• Karen


Updated: Aug 29, 2019

An historic building at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona

That's what Dr. Brooks reported when he called last night at 9 p.m. to discuss the CT scan David had yesterday. (It was so nice of him to not wait until Monday to call us with the results.) He said the tumor sizes were basically the same as when the previous CT scan was done two months ago.

He stressed that the tumors are not growing and said he is happy with the results. Because he's seen hundreds, if not thousands, of similar cases, David and I suspect he considers this to be typical or even more positive than usual for stage 4 stomach cancer seven months after diagnosis.

Of course, we were hoping for news much more dramatic and positive than that, especially since David's tumor markers are now in the normal range and weight is no longer dropping off him the way it was a couple of months ago. So we were disappointed to say the least.

Dr. Brooks said he'd keep tracking David's tumor markers to keep tabs on things; if they start going up, we'll know the cancer is no longer stable but is instead growing and we'd change the treatment (a reference to the Keytruda immunotherapy David's gene test indicated he is a candidate for). Dr. Brooks also said the tumors likely won't get smaller, so we'll continue the current regime of Herceptin-only IV chemo every three weeks and daily Xeloda chemo pills every other week—another disappointment to us.

After the call, David and I discussed our reactions, which were all over the map, as you can imagine. We are thankful things are stable and recalled that all three of the oncologists we consulted after the initial diagnosis said that without treatment, David would likely die within six months. So the treatment has obviously gotten us past that grim milestone. But we also recalled they all said that even with treatment, the typical prognosis is one-to-two years, and we are really hoping we can beat that.

It is still so tempting to think this whole thing is some sort of hoax or bizarre dream from which we will eventually awaken. Everyone who sees David says he looks great. No one would ever suspect he has stage 4 cancer just by looking at him. He continues to do most pre-diagnosis activities including riding his bike, although not as vigorously or as often as before, but that's mainly due to not feeling well from the chemotherapy. So it's difficult to reconcile the fact that an invisible yet deadly condition exists beneath his skin.

In spite of all this, David has such a positive attitude and plans to soldier on with the chemo therapy. He says there's nothing to be gained by being pessimistic. I'm reminded of several articles I've read that said cancer used to be a death sentence, but now sometimes it can be held in check so it's more of a chronic disease that can be managed. And who knows: If David can continue long enough, a cure might eventually become available.