After six months of treatment and seven rounds of chemotherapy, Emily had a PET scan on December 31st. A PET scan examines the entire body (eyes to thighs) for “activity” uptake on a scale of 1-10, and thereby highlights the location of cancer in the body. Emily’s last PET scan was in July prior to any treatment. The test revealed a lung that “lit up like a Christmas tree.” Emily’s tumor measured in at an 11 (one of the few times extra credit is not a good thing). Meanwhile, her lymph nodes and pleural lining both had levels of 7.5.
After Emily’s most recent meeting with her oncologist, a new PET scan was ordered in order to examine the possibility of surgery. The test would need to show cancer only in the tumor though, with no signs of activity in the pleural lining or lymph nodes.
On January 2nd, during Emily’s daily four mile walk (which she has been doing in preparation for potential surgery) we received a phone call from City of Hope. The results were in – Emily’s pleural lining and lymph nodes both had activity levels of 0. The tumor now had a level of just 1.9.
What this means:
First, Emily is a complete badass. She is a real life superhero. Second, the cancer in the pleural lining and the lymph nodes has been wiped out. Surgery is now a possibility. Third, the tumor shows barely any activity; cancer levels are generally above 3.6. There is great reason to believe that the tumor inside Emily is merely a dead mass of scar tissue. However, we are trying (although difficult) to maintain a conservative approach and assume there is more cancer to defeat.
In any case, determining the correct next step in treatment is crucial. Emily will meet with City of Hope’s lung surgeon – Dr. Kim – this Thursday (January 10th). Following the meeting, Emily’s case will be presented to the thoracic tumor board, made up of City of Hope’s lung oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons. She is very excited about the interdisciplinary approach, and is anxious to hear the game plan. Regardless of the next step (surgery, radiation, etc.), and due to the fact that this type of cancer is particularly aggressive and has a high rate of recurrence, Emily will most likely continue to receive maintenance chemo every third week for the foreseeable future. Although not ideal, Emily fails to see it as a restriction, but as a means to freedom from this cancer.
Emily took time to celebrate this wonderful news with friends and family at Bruhaus – the same location where we held her chemo kick-off party back in July. It was an amazing night, and we could not believe how much she has been able to accomplish in these past six months.
Emily and I feel we have nearly climbed to the top of the mountain. Although there is more to go and there will be a long climb back down, we feel extremely fortunate to be so close to the peak.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. We truly believe you all are making a difference and have been an integral part in Emily’s battle.
Much love. Live in the moment.
Emily & Miles