Thursday, 8 September 2011

Six months

It's six months since diagnosis.  H has got neuropathic pain in her left arm, like bad pins and needles, occasional stabbing back pain when she runs, a sore toenail, and assorted cuts and bruises that heal slowly.  And she's recovering from a cold.

On Monday she had a PET scan.  There was good news: the tumours in her vertebrae are showing no activity: apparently the radiotherapy has stopped them for the time being.  So the fear that she will be paralysed by spinal cord compression has receded.  She has one active tumour in her lung, and two on her scalp - one very obvious one on top of her head, and a smaller lump on the side of her head.

It should be possible to stop these lumps growing too with some sort of radiotherapy: H is considering the technological options.  Treating the lung tumour will cause some collateral lung damage, and treating the scalp tumour will leave bald patches.  We're looking into ways to conceal them.

If all the significant tumours can be stopped, H can go on less frequent chemotherapy, allowing her general health to improve.  She had chemotherapy today, and will have more in 3 and 6 weeks if her platelet and neutrophil counts hold up.  Then we'll think again.

Regarding the symptoms I mentioned at the start.  The neuropathic pain can plausibly be attributed to some combination of radiation myelopathy, which should improve with time, and a bulging cervical disc unrelated to the cancer.  H may have a nerve injection to reduce the discomfort.   The stabbing pain in her back may be caused by a bare rib-end where the bone has been eaten away.  And she may take her somewhat ingrowing toe-nail to her GP.  So it's all minor, albeit unpleasant to live with.

Overall, things now look much better than we expected they would.  There's no prospect of a cure, but there is some time.

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