Alas, here we are again... four years out from the first roller coaster ride and I am back in line for another. It turns out that the elevated CEA levels from last week's blood test reflected two liver metastases from the colon tumor that we exorcised in early 2007. Too bad those rotten little cancer cells were resistant to the FOLFOX cocktail, eh?
So, tons of oncological fun on the near horizon. Tomorrow we have a full body bone scan to check for bone mets. For the uninitiated, "mets" is the lingo for metastases, or cancer that has spread from one organ to another place. It is possible that I have developed bone mets because, in the blood test that demonstrated an elevated CEA level, I got the bonus news that there was an elevated (barely within the upper band of normal) level of calcium in my blood. Calcium in one's blood can result from many things (including vitamins, though this is not the case for me), but we are checking to see if bone mets are the culprit for the elevated calcium. We are hoping beyond hope that this is not the case, since otherwise the metastatic colon cancer is going wild in my system and the liver tumors are the least of my problems.
If the bone scan is negative, then the next order of business is reducing the size of the liver mets. FOLFIRI is our new cocktail friend, possibly supplemented by cetuximab, a biological agent. FOLFIRI is fluorouracil (5-FU), Leucovorin (aka folic acid), and Irinotecan, and it is delivered intravenously. I will need to get another port-a-cath installed, so that they can deliver the FOLFIRI directly to my bloodstream near my heart. This cocktail will be administered every other week until the liver tumors shrink to a manageable size (as detected by CT scans). TOO MUCH FUN!
Surgical resection would happen next, followed by some more chemo to be sure there are no additional tumor-wannabes waiting around, probably with 5-FU, Leucovorin and Avastin. Maybe 2011 will end with an all-clear. Let's hope so.
In the meantime, everyone should relax, enjoy their lives, and hug their loved ones. Really, what else is there to do?