Scan results: It’s complicated


Got the results today from my abdominal MRI and chest CT.

Not what we were hoping for.

The single metastasis in my liver has increased in size, from 1.5 cm to 2.1. I’m only 12 weeks into my new treatment, immunotherapy drugs, so it’s hard to say whether the therapy is working or not. Here are some possibilities:

  1. This is real-deal progression and the immunotherapy isn’t doing the job. Oh shit. 
  2. The tumor continued to grow a little bit until the drugs kicked in, and now they are working. Better. 
  3. The size increase is actually due to “psuedoprogression,” which is inflammation at the tumor site caused by my killer immune cells attacking the cancer. If this is the case, the next scan hopefully will show stability or regression. Again, better.

But here is the shittiest part of today. When I scanned in August, before I started immunotherapy, the radiologist pointed out what he called “post-operative collections” in my abdomen. The idea was that these were benign collections of fluid that built up after my liver surgery in May, and they would clear up. Sounded fine at the time.

Unfortunately, those were not fluid collections. Looks like they’re other tumors. There are two sizable ones near my stomach, as well as several tiny ones around the border of my diaphragm. The largest was 4.1 cm in August, and now measures 4.7 cm. Again, we can’t be sure if the immunotherapy is working or not.

This means that Sarah and I learned today that my cancer has spread inside my peritoneum (the membrane that encases all the abdominal organs). This news has hit us hard. Lots of fear, anxiety, and tears.

We are strong in our beliefs, and we hold onto realistic hope. We hope the immunotherapy is just on the verge of turning this thing around and wiping out my disease. My CEA, which is a measure of tumor activity and has been very reliable this whole time, continues to trend DOWN. It was 11.7 before I started immunotherapy, 6.4 at the six-week mark, and 4.2 yesterday. Also, my eosinophils, which are white blood cells that fight disease, are off the charts. These are good indicators that my immune system is fighting hard, and my tumor activity is dropping. We need for those trends to continue. 

Thank you so much for your support through all of this. It means the world to us. It is so hard on Sarah and the girls, and I ask that you think of them, and hold them up in your hearts. I will continue to write and share my feelings about facing this awful disease. 

With love,

Trevor

Published by Trevor Maxwell

Trevor Maxwell writes about life as stage IV colon cancer patient, and about overcoming challenges. A former newspaper journalist, Trevor is passionate about the power of words. Follow at www.trevormaxwell.com

12 thoughts on “Scan results: It’s complicated

  1. Oh, Trevor…I’m so sorry. I hate that horrid uncertainty. So very sorry for your sweet little family. It’’s all such a balancing act. Or unbalancing. Please be so very very kind to yourselves. I am in tears, guys. Can’t help it.

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  2. You are a badass MOFO Trevor. Lots of love an optimism. Your body and spirit is fighting! The world can be magic and I am so thankful you are vocalizing what you are going through. I think reaching out and feeling the support and love even via interwebz can help immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sam! The connections help me to heal, and hopefully others as well. I’m so proud of everything you are accomplishing in your life. You are a badass in your own right. xoxo

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  3. Oh no…more dire uncertainty. And your mind roves from one scenario to back again until exhaustion sets in. Every day, the image of your family comes into my mind. Sending you guys patience and candles of hope

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  4. I just found your blog through colontown. Your words reflect my feelings too as I deal with this scary disease.
    My prayers and hope for a strong and healthy outcome are with you and your beautiful family.
    I’m at the beginning of this, just completed surgery 6 weeks ago and facing chemo. I also have a rare form of colon cancer (signet ring cell) and need to be strong and hopeful about treatment and healing.
    Thank you for writing your story. I feel for you with each step you take…the uncertainty, the despair, the hope that exists as well, seeing the body respond favorably to immunotherapy…and trust…and fear. Your healing is in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your message, Leslye! I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this crap. I remember how overwhelmed I was at the beginning, with my initial colon surgery and chemo. It was all coming at me so fast, tons of information to digest, decisions to make. Plus it was scary as hell. That was nearly two years ago, so things have somewhat settled into a “new normal.” I’m thankful for all the information I get on Colontown. I hope you are getting answers there to some of your questions. I hold you in my thoughts, my friend! You are never alone.

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  5. Thank you Trevor for directing Meal Train friends to this blog. I have been wondering and praying for you and your family. You are a true inspiration. All my love, strength, support, and healing energybtonyouvand your family.

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