Monday, November 16, 2020

The One Percent (November 2020 Scan Results)

 In mid-October, Anne-Marie started to lose feeling in her legs.  Numbness and pain was radiating up one leg and then the other off and on, progressively getting worse.  By the time November arrived, she was having trouble walking.  We believed it was a neurological side effect caused by the whole-brain radiation.

Anne-Marie didn't have a bone scan during the August series of scans, so we scheduled that for the last week of October.  Because the scan was performed during the chemo "off week", we didn't get results for a week.  On November 4, Anne-Marie had the consult with Dr. Solti who told her that a new tumor had been discovered in the the L4 vertebrae of Anne-Marie's spine.  Unless around the same time, Anne-Marie herniated a disc in this same area of her back, the doctors believed this was the cause of the mobility issues, not the whole-brain radiation.  It was a 99% certainty.  We scheduled an MRI to be sure.

The MRI was performed on Thursday, November 12 and results were revealed the next day.  The doctors were wrong.  The cancer that showed up on the bone scan was not a tumor in the L4 vertebrae; the MRI revealed that it really was several tumors that were in the lower part of the spinal cord.

The dozen tumors that were in Anne-Marie's brain have spread into the spinal cord and formed six to eight more tumors in the lower back area. These tumors are inside the spinal cord itself and are pressing against the nerves and axons in the lower spine that control lower body function.

Spine MRI with tumors circled

Dr. Solti has informed us that this is a much more serious and complicated situation than it would be if the cancer was located in the bone.  The implications of the mobility and brain function threat is enough to make anyone completely freak out. 

Currently, Anne-Marie is having extreme difficulty walking (not enough to keep her from doing basic things around our home) and needs a wheelchair any time she leaves the house.  Because of the urgency of the situation, we are being rushed into radiation treatment starting today.  Dr. Siddiqui, the radiologist, believes the treatments could offer relief as soon as the end of this week.

This does not, however, impact the long-term situation.  We need options for chemo treatment that will help Anne-Marie's brain.  We are scheduled for a consult with Dr. Modha, the neurosurgeon, to discuss solutions this Thursday, November 19.

We've been on the right side of the percentages before and know what it's like to celebrate those victories.  We would never fault ourselves for the celebrating. 

This time of wrong percentages is one for weeping.  There is no shame in that.

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