"A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body." -- National Cancer Institute
"Alex, you are going in the right direction!" is all basically I heard during my follow-up oncology appointment Friday.
With a smile on this face, Dr. Sekwon Jang, a melanoma specialist, indicated the results from my recent Brain MRI and PET/CT scan (conducted on Wednesday this week) showed no impressions of any cancer activity.
This was definitely great news!
When I started my chemo/immunotherapy treatment back in July 2016 (to fight another round against cancer), I was able to complete three infusions out of four scheduled, before the treatment damaged my pituitary gland – moderately enlarging and negatively impacting my endocrine system (the medical term is Ipilimumab-Induced Lymphocytic Hypophysis). Despite the damage to my pituitary gland and endocrine system, I was more worried that the treatment was not sufficient enough to prevent cancer from metastasizing to other areas in my body. However, the positive news indicates that the treatment is indeed working.
And what is more significant about this news…
The results from my previous Brain MRI and PET/CT scan (conducted about four months ago, in September 2016) indicated some metabolic activity near the end of my lower intestine (see the left side of picture). But, as you can see on the right side of the photo…the black mass is no longer there! If it was, in fact, a metastasis of cancer, I conjecture the plausibility that my immune system, along with the help from the chemo/immunotherapy treatment, is eradicating the cancer cells in my body. Conversely, if there was still evidence of metabolic activity within the black mass, my oncologist would have had to order another biopsy to determine if it was benign or not. Either way…I am very relieved that the black mass is gone!
The Brain MRI also indicated that my pituitary gland reverted back to normal size as well. Hopefully, after a follow up with my endocrinologist on Monday, he may cease the medicated treatment to determine my endocrine system’s functional baseline to assess if it’s back to normal.
What does all this mean?
I would like to believe I’m in remission at this time, which possibly means the unlikelihood of another reoccurrence in the near future. So, I am going to enjoy these next six months of freedom until my next Brain MRI and PET/CT scan in July 2017.
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Interesting fact (at least to me): since November 2013 I have undergone eight Brain MRIs and eight PET scans.
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