February 25, 2023. February 22 was a big day for me. It was the first time I would get CT scans of my chest since starting this clinical trial. The last scan in late December showed that all my suspicious lung nodules had continued to increase in size. These new scans would reveal if the encouraging results I’ve enjoyed regarding the shrinking size of the tumor near my collarbone, would hold true for my lungs. I was experiencing a bit of anxiety that, for me, is genuinely out of the norm.
My emotions were heightened even more because February 22 would have been Mom’s 89th birthday. It was the first time in my 70+ years to not hear her voice on the 22nd. My brother was born on her birthday. I was feeling emotional for him, too. It was the first time in his life not sharing the day celebrating with Mom.
So, Steve and I drove to San Francisco that morning. It was crazy windy in the City and cold. We arrived at UCSF China Basin radiology for the CTs. Once done, we drove to UCSF Mission Bay for my blood draw, followed by a visit and exam with NP Jessica. All my bloodwork was beautiful, and my tumor had shrunk to the point it wasn’t even measurable. Jessica tried to get a preliminary report of the CT results but was unsuccessful. She said she would call me or message me as soon as she learned anything. That said, I also knew the preliminary summary would post to MyChart allowing me to see it right away.
My infusion appointment was at 3:00p. While we were waiting to be called in, I got a notification that there was a new test result in MyChart. I know my heart was racing, and I was a bit shaky when I touched the app icon on my phone. This is what I read: LUNGS: Decreased size of multiple pulmonary nodules. “Decreased size of multiple nodules! Oh my gawd.” The amount of joy I felt in that moment is indescribable. The clinical trial appears to be working on my lungs as well. This is the best news I could expect after only five treatments.
Minutes later, my name was called to go into the infusion center. One of the oncology nurses was walking me to the chair I would occupy and told me that I would be in the corner room. Each room has numbers in the upper corner of the doorway. They identify each infusion chair in that room. This one contained chairs 21 and 22. I felt my breath catch, and I asked her, “Am I in number 22?” She said yes, that I was. I told her today, February 22, would have been my mom’s birthday, and that she had passed away in June. I was so overwhelmed, I began crying. It just felt like something was happening that was eerily intentional. Serendipitous. The tears continued to flow uncontrollably. The sweet nurse asked if I’d rather sit in chair 21. I told her no. That sitting in chair 22 would feel like Mom was hugging me, and that was a good thing.
Because I was only getting Magrolimab (immunotherapy drug), we anticipated being on our way home by 6:00p. The Magrolimab takes an hour for the pharmacy to formulate once I’m checked in. I also am required to take a Benadryl half-an-hour before the infusion. Shelley, my oncology nurse for the day accessed my port, gave me the Benadryl and waited for the drug to be delivered from the pharmacy. After nearly an hour Shelley returned to let me know she had bad news. The pharmacy had broken one of the vials or the bag (I’m not sure which). They would have to remake it. Another hour lost. By the time the Magrolimab was being infused it was clear we would not be heading home until closer to 8:00p. What can I say? Sh*t happens.
But wait. There is more good news. The last tumor marker (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) from February 8 had a value of 16.5. The February 22 value was 15. That is a significant, smile-worthy, drop.
I’m honestly not accustomed to getting good news when it comes to me and cancer. Having been at this since 2018, I realize things can change on a dime. What I’m experiencing now is a bit surreal, and I still have my guard up. However, I do know it is something I could get used to.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful. —Mae West