We got back from Houston around 8pm last night. These past three days have been long and tiring, but we survived. We met an amazing man...Dr. Amato. He has been working with RCC patients since the 80's. He has been and still is involved in many trials and production of different drugs for RCC. He is a great guy and very much down to earth. He spent alot of time talking to Alan and I. We are extremely happy that he will be handling Alan's plan. Probably for at least the next year or so Alan will be in the care of Dr. Amato. Alan will be in Houston for appts. every 5-6 weeks for the first 6 months. Each one of these appts. will include scans and blood work.
Let's start with the bad news.
While we were in Houston, Alan had actually 2 CT scans done. The first one was not done to Dr. Amato's liking (long story), so we did another one Wednesday morning. The second scan did confirm that there are two nodules in Alan's lower left lung where the cancer has spread. This is not lung cancer. It is the RCC that has spread to the lungs. It is not uncommon for it to spread to the lungs since it is a vascular cancer. It can also spread to the brain and this is why Alan will have MRI's of his brain too. We have questioned these areas from the beginning, but some of the Dr. in LR felt like it was probably nothing, but Dr. Amato says they have grown since the PET scan. This was a big blow. It was basically like hearing it all over again that Alan has cancer. These areas are small, but there are actually a total of 5 areas on the lungs that will have to be monitored. Two that are obvious, but the other 3 are about freckle size. We just take a deep breath and again keep praying.
The Good News!
The area on the outer left side of Alan's abdominal wall that was questionable, Dr. Amato feels pretty certain that is nothing to be concerned about. He does not see a mass in that area and thinks that it is just scar tissue and post op. The second area of concern was deep inside of Alan right around where the renal vien was (left side). This area had the appearance of tumor, but after looking at the scans we had done in Houston, Dr. Amato also felt like that was just inflammation or post op surgery tissue. He started to order a biopsy of this area, but it was just too risky. There is a blood vessel right beside it and if they hit it, then there is no was for them to make it stop bleeding. This questionable area also had staples all in it, so it is just hard to imagine that the surgeon put staples all in a tumor like that. These spots will still be monitored, but we feel alot better about these areas.
Dr. Amato showed Alan and I all of the scans, including the PET scan which we had not seen. Again, he was great and showed us everything and explained everything as we went through the scans. It defiantly helped to understand more after seeing them.
For Alan's treatment plan, he will start the Sutent Monday. Dr. Amato wants to start him on this first and if it does not do what it should, there are back up drugs. Surgery is also an option for the lungs, but we hope it does not come to that. There are side effects to the Sutent. Basically the same type of side effects that chemo would have. The drug works in cycles. Alan will take the pill daily for 4 weeks and then off for 2 weeks. During these 2 weeks off, hopefully Alan's side effects will diminish and he will be back up for the next round of pills. That is why they give patients the 2 weeks off. At the moment, Alan will be on this drug indefinitely.
I know there is more to type about, but I'm off work today to try and catch up around this house and just take a breath, but I'm also about to take Carson back to the Dr. This little man just can't seem to get well. I'm going to post some pictures later of the Medical Center in Houston. Have any of you ever been to this? It was crazy. I had to take pictures. Really an amazing place that is actually growing. Hopefully I'll post those tonight.
Just remember us in your prayers. I know everyone is. Just when we think things are looking up, then something else comes along. We'll get through this and Alan will live a healthy life again soon.