Topic: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Today was my first CT after two cycles of Gemcitabine and Cisplatin.  Prior to the treatment, I had a large liver tumor, some lymph node involvement, and some nodules in and around the head of my pancreas.  The only hope that I'd been given was to pray that the chemotherapy controlled the spread, do chemoembolization to beat up the liver tumor, and then do massive, risky surgery including a liver resection and whipple.

Well, my surgeon was shocked by the progress that I'd made in two cycles.  He said that the pancreatic disease was controlled; there was no further spread; and the liver tumor shrank substantially.  The docs couldn't give me a percentage reduction in size, but said that it was, "conclusive and exceptional."  They also said that if the tumor continued to shrink, the surgery would be much less risky. 

I'll have another cycle of this, please!  The docs agreed that we'd stay the course on the gem/cis for now and reevaluate regarding chemoembolization after another cycle.  They also told me that they weren't planning to do any surgery before the New Year.  Unless something drastically changes, it will be a great holiday in my household!

This is the first real, positive news that I've had since I was diagnosed back in July.  I realize that I've got a long road ahead, but am celebrating this victory!

-Z

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

That is such great news!! We got a good report today also.  Keep up the good work. No matter how long the road or how small the step it certainly is reason to celebrate.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Woot woot. I am so happy for you. This is wait we all hope and pray for ourselves and each other. You are going to have such a wonderful holiday season! This year when that turkey is roasting in the oven, your family will know what Thanksgiving is really about.

And on a very personal note, thank you for sharing. I have been very pessimistic recently about if this chemo regime is actually working for me. You have given me hope. Thank you.

Kris

Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

36 year old patient with buckets of hope

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Fabulous! FABULOUS! We are all sooooooooo happy for you!

A big hug from

Kristin

Peace, hope, and healing to all!

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

That is just terrific news! Awesome!

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Superb news indeed Zupton!! Here's hoping for more of the same for you! My dads due to meet his onc on Monday for the first time and I'm sure that this is the chemo regime that was mentiond previously for him.

Best wishes

Gavin

Any advice or comments I give are based on personal experiences and knowledge and are my opinions only, they are not to be substituted for professional medical advice. Please seek professional advice from a qualified doctor or medical professional.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Z....I also would like to chime in and am sending my big "thumbs up".
I am wishing for continued success coming your way,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Wow, Zack - that's FABULOUS news!!  My sis is due to start Gem/Cis next week & your news has absolutely made my day!!

See - your flashing sword has carved another flaming "Z" through this wretched disease big_smile

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

9 (edited by zupton Sat, 24 Oct 2009 22:24:47)

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

I love this board!!!  There is so much support here, whether I have good news or bad.  I just wanted to stop by to say thanks to you all.

I'm really feeling the Zorro thing.  Carving a Z in the disease is a cool image.  My surgeon says that he's had people ask him to write all kinds of things on their livers during surgery.  I told him that I just want a chunk of tumor to stomp on.  He actually agreed!  It will be a fun day once these wretched things come out of my body.

I'm just hoping that I'll have the stamina on Halloween to participate.  I've got a chemo treatment on the day before, so I'll probably be pretty wiped out on Halloween....

One day at a time.

-Z (Zach)

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Z...We are hoping you are just fine for Halloween. We are going to my daughter as she goes all out for Halloween, her favorite holiday. Decorates the WHOLE house inside and out. Howling witches from the windows fun all around. We are not participating this year, will just sit and watch all the kiddies come over for treats. I know! You can go as Zorro who has just come home from another adventure and you need to rest before starting out on your next journey!

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Zach, Fabulous news!!!

Katie

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Wonderful news! And very inspiring!

Isn't it great to get good news finally. My mom recently had her first good CT scan and it was elating to us all.

My best wishes to you in continued success in your battle.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

I am so happy!!!!!! Happy Halloween to you and your family!!!!

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Z-
Good for you. I am glad you got some good news. Who would have thought we'd be so happy to hear we should get more chemotherapy? Who would have theought we'd want it?!? It is strange how life changes.  About your surgery, if you are thinking whipple, I have read the best thing you can do, to make sure your surgery statistics are good, is to go to a hospital that does a high volume of them. (A surgeon who does one a week or more)
I have no idea what you have locally but places who have a pancreatic cancer program are places that do many whipples. - just a thought since you were kind enough to share..I thought I would too. keep up the good work!
Beth O

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Thanks Beth!  I appreciate the advice.

As an update, I had new scans in late November.  They showed continued progress!  I've done a fourth cycle of the same regimen and will get the first dose of the fifth cycle tomorrow.  After that, they're going to cut of the chemo for six weeks prior to surgery. 

The surgery will be a tough one.  They plan to take up to the maximum of 75% of my liver AND do the whipple.  I have a huge list of questions for the surgeon before I sign up to this, but he thinks that it is the way to go if I want to have a chance at long term survival.  After the surgery, I understand that they want to keep me at the National Institutes for Health for a full month to make sure that I recover smoothly and that my liver regenerates correctly.

This is a lot to look forward to in 2010.  Happy New Year to everyone!

-Z

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

I am so happy for you. Best of luck with the surgery.

KRis

Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

36 year old patient with buckets of hope

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Hi there Z and Congratulations on winning the surgical lottery. My husband had a Whipple 4 years ago and is now 77. While it is a huge surgery, it is NOT life threatening. I can see where you would be in the hospital a month. Just for the Whipple he was in over 2 weeks. I want you to know that he was sitting up the second day and getting out of bed the 3rd day. You will be starting out 2010 with a BANG! Great news.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Hi Zupton,

Great news and I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you with your surgery. I hope it all goes well for you.

Best wishes and a happy new year to you.

Gavin

Any advice or comments I give are based on personal experiences and knowledge and are my opinions only, they are not to be substituted for professional medical advice. Please seek professional advice from a qualified doctor or medical professional.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Hi, I just saw your message and have some questions.   This was in Sept. 09, have you had any tests since?   Are you still on Gemzar/Cisplatin?   What were the side effects of this combination?   I am seeing my onc this Wed. 1/6 and was thinking about nexavar.    Anxiously awaiting your response.

Thank you,
Jane638

zupton wrote:

Today was my first CT after two cycles of Gemcitabine and Cisplatin.  Prior to the treatment, I had a large liver tumor, some lymph node involvement, and some nodules in and around the head of my pancreas.  The only hope that I'd been given was to pray that the chemotherapy controlled the spread, do chemoembolization to beat up the liver tumor, and then do massive, risky surgery including a liver resection and whipple.

Well, my surgeon was shocked by the progress that I'd made in two cycles.  He said that the pancreatic disease was controlled; there was no further spread; and the liver tumor shrank substantially.  The docs couldn't give me a percentage reduction in size, but said that it was, "conclusive and exceptional."  They also said that if the tumor continued to shrink, the surgery would be much less risky. 

I'll have another cycle of this, please!  The docs agreed that we'd stay the course on the gem/cis for now and reevaluate regarding chemoembolization after another cycle.  They also told me that they weren't planning to do any surgery before the New Year.  Unless something drastically changes, it will be a great holiday in my household!

This is the first real, positive news that I've had since I was diagnosed back in July.  I realize that I've got a long road ahead, but am celebrating this victory!

-Z

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Has anyone been on nexavar.  If so, was it successful in shrinking the tumors?   I am starting a new regimine this Wed. 1/6 after 2 Therasphere treatments.   That did kill off the existing tumors, but 3 new appeared within 1 mo. of the last treatment, which was 11/16/09.   I was afraid of the gemzar/cisplatin combo because of the side affects.   Natually I don't want to lose my hair and I hate the needles.   At this time I do not have a port and don't want one.   I was on Gemzar for 3 - 4 mos. but it lost it's effect.

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Jane,

There is a post down the line, I think on December 30, 2009 or something like that where I describe my progress.  The bottom line is that I've been very lucky.  The Gemcitabine (Gemzar) and Cisplatin combo have been very effective with my tumors.  According to the docs the tumor in my liver is "dramatically" smaller. 

Early on, the side effects that I felt with this cocktail were minimal.  It was just a couple of days of tough fatigue.  I shaved my head preemptively, but it turned out to be unnecessary.  I've had a full beard the entire time.  Now that I've had 4 1/2 cycles of this, the side effects are somewhat more pronounced.  I've had no nausea, but I do have a great deal of bone pain.  The docs think that this is a side effect of the Neulasta shots that I give myself after chemo and not the chemo itself, but who knows?  The other side effects that I've had include increased tumor pain, longer-term fatigue, and some "chemo-brain."  My aunt, a breast cancer survivor, describes chemo-brain as a lot of short term memory loss.....I'm definitely there. ;-)

From what I understand, I'm lucky in both my response to the drugs and my overall lack of side effects.  Don't get me wrong, this hasn't been a picnic for me or my family, but the results have been worthwhile.

Best of luck to you.  I don't know anything about your new treatment but would love to hear about the results.

Keep strong,

-Z

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Good luck, Good luck, Good luck, Zach!!  I'm rooting for you!!!

BTW - I love your "signature post" - that's another slogan I'd like to adopt wink

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Can anyone tell me how they decide when to take scans after chemo.  My brother has completed 3 cycles of gem/ox and the oncologist is not planning to do a CT scan for at least 2-3 more cycles.  Also, have they done both CT with PET?  Thanks

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

Judy....my husband also had his scan after 6 treatments.  In our case, a Pet Scan had never been done only, a CT.
Best,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: First Scans on Gemcis - Great News

I've got a brand new treatment plan.  I think that it is much better than the single option that I had before, but I am anxious about the future.

Based on my response to the Gemcitabine and  Cisplatin; the condition of my liver; and fear about doing a liver resection and whipple at the same time (from both the surgeon and me); my surgeon, my wife and I have agreed on a new treatment plan:

First, I will have Transarterial Chemoembolization on my liver.  The hope is that this will further shrink the liver tumors.  We'll do three of these "procedures" over the next three months.  I had a set of scans last week that indicated a new lesion on my left lobe.  This was the healthy part of my liver.....

Assuming that the TACE works, we'll take a few weeks off and then do the whipple procedure to remove the disease that is outside my liver.  While he's got me opened up, the surgeon plans to burn my liver tumors with microwave ablation.

Assuming that works, I'll recover from surgery and then have a few more months of Gem/Cis.

Assuming nothing new and awful crops up, we'll get ready for liver resection.

I'm not sure what to think about this plan.  I'm optimistic, but there are a lot of "assumes" in there.  It's certainly better then flipping a coin with my life (they gave me a 50/50 shot at surviving the other surgery).  One day at a time.........   

So, my first TACE treatment is tomorrow.  I'm nervous about the procedure itself and pain and nausea that I'll have in the 12-24 hours following the procedure.  Wish me luck!

-Z

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill