February update: Review
Monday 13 of Feb saw us hit the city for the first time for 2017. Bren had to have an MRI on his residual leg to find out why it’s too painful to wear his prosthetic. The results would be ready to present at his review with the medical team on Friday. (Of course our worst fears were – reoccurrence of disease in his stump) Trip two for 2017 would be down Thursday and Friday for the review, and to be completely honest I was feeling rattled and I think Brendan probably was too.
Brendan’s stump has been painful since before Christmas, he has a tingling in his calf and some intermittent pain in his jaw again, and in the last few days has had so much pain in his back (wrapping around both sides of his chest,) that he is finding it hard to breathe or talk with any comfort.
I think we had both prepared ourselves to hear the worst – it was a tough week or more in the lead up to this review.
Thankfully it wasn’t the worst. The first thing we were told was there was nothing relating to cancer found in Brendan’s stump, so it is an amputee issue not a cancer issue, which can be addressed once the cancer is under control. The relief in hearing this brought some tears.
There was also nothing showing up in the calf, more relief, and now the mood was starting to change as the review continued. There were even a few jokes thrown around. We were so relieved that neither of us thought to ask about the jaw and it wasn’t mentioned in the PET results. There was no information given on the other known tumour sites, so I would say there’s no negative change in any of those either.
The back and chest pain are an issue, new lesions have shown up in some ribs which explains the severe pain Bren has been in the last few days. Dr Bhadri (oncologist) explained that it would be feeling very much like broken ribs, Brendan agreed with that. A pain management regime has been put in place to deal with the pain.
So, again, the chemo tablet is slowing the disease down but isn’t stopping it – it is time to look at the next line of defence. It’s a little scary that Bren will now stop taking the chemo tablets over the next two weeks, in preparation for the new trial, as all chemo medicine has to be out of his system before it starts.
What new trial?
Well, the original trial results, without boring you with the details, have shown through analysing the genetic makeup of Bren’s tumour, that immunotherapy may bring about good results for his disease. Viv has referred him to the team at Garvan Institute/Kinghorn Cancer Centre and we are waiting to hear when he is scheduled for scans and medical checks, to see if he can be accepted into the immunotherapy trial.
The adventure continues with a new team, however as we left the clinic Viv reminded Brendan that they’re only loaning him to the new team, “they can’t have you,” he said as he shook Bren’s hand and we said goodbye.
- There is no sign of new cancer cells in the stump.
- There is nothing showing up in the calf.
- There are still signs of slow progression of disease due to new legions in some ribs.
- A new immunotherapy trial is on offer.
- Viv made sure we knew that there is every reason to be hopeful. Of course we understand that the new therapy may not help Brendan, but they have to explain that. I heard it but I didn’t necessarily listen.
- The only choice here is to get on the immunotherapy trial train! There is absolutely nothing to lose.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Chris OBrien Lifehouse team, especially Dr Bhadri, Dr Stalley, Kristyn, Sue and Tanya. They have taken care of Brendan since June 2014 – with grace, compassion, excellence and good humour, making sure he got to stick around and pursue the possibilities and opportunities that are now being offered to him.
Thanks in no small part to this team life’s good and hope continues to be limitless for #teambrendanm!
Featured Image: Dr Vivek Bhadri and Brendan, 2014