Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another scan bites the dust

With the unexpected funeral trip this coming weekend, there was some last minute travel and medical appointments to juggle. Originally, there was just an infusion scheduled for Wednesday. (We found out last week there was one more scan before switching to 12 week intervals.) But, to give myself a little more recovery time, it became one busy morning here at Holy Cross – scans early, followed by the oncologist checkup, and then dose #15.

Another scan bites the dust

TJ at Holy Cross during scan and infusion dose No. 15.
TJ at Holy Cross during scan and infusion dose No. 15.

With the unexpected funeral trip this coming weekend, there was some last minute travel and medical appointments to juggle. Originally, there was just an infusion scheduled for Wednesday. (We found out last week there was one more scan before switching to 12 week intervals.) But, to give myself a little more recovery time, it became one busy morning here at Holy Cross – scans early, followed by the oncologist checkup, and then dose #15. 

The scans were great, outside of the barium – no results yet, just to be clear! I was in and out in an hour, which is a new Holy Cross record. Maybe the radiology team heard I was coming and didn’t want to catch hell again for delays? Either way, we breezed through the CT scan and oncologist appointment and were at the infusion center early for the first time ever.  

Of course, Quest didn’t get the bloodwork done from the day before, so we had to wait for the labs to come back. It gave Jen and I a little time to discuss fun stuff in the cancer center, like where to send Josie to school or what Plan C would look like if it were needed. We get a lot of planning done there, which is good, if not exactly romantic. They even had a lady coming around giving neck massages, which I found out only happens on Tuesday and may alter the infusion day going forward. I try not to play the cancer thing up very often, but if it will get my back or neck rubbed, here’s my “C Card.”

We asked about getting the scan results as our oncologist is a stickler for giving results in person, and all the persuasion I have tried hasn’t changed that. I am hoping we have something to share in a blog post by Thursday and with our family on Saturday. I don’t think Dr. Patterson fully appreciates the sheer volume of inquiries that accompany delays in scan results. Besides, what better thing to bring to an Irish wake than positive results? (Although I am guessing some of you are appending “…and Jameson” to that.)

 All indications are positive now – bloodwork looks great, vital signs are around pre-cancer levels, and strength is returning.  I even put enough weight back on to get out of the “I don’t have to worry about counting calories anytime soon” zone (aka #8 on the Silver Linings of Cancer List).

So this marks the last of the six-week scans and my second dose of PD-1 this year – only sixteen more to go before New Year’s Eve! Now that we’re switching to 12-week scans, they’ll feel much more distant; the next one won’t be until the week after Easter, which feels like forever away, and then not again until after July 4th.

Doubling the time between scans might cause a little more anxiety as each scan approaches, although I am still very confident in my treatment. With murmurs and rumors of PD-1 potentially getting FDA approval by the end of the year, it is hard to predict what will happen beyond 1/1/2015. The nice thing is, we can talk months and even years into the future now with the cautious optimism I will be here, happy and healthy, to enjoy that time.


T.J. Sharpe shares his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma in the Patient #1 blog. Read more »

T.J. Sharpe
About this blog
T.J. Sharpe is sharing his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma. A South Jersey native and Bishop Eustace graduate, he currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his wife Jennifer and children Josie and Tommy. He was Patient #1 in a clinical trial at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa as the first person worldwide to use this sequence of treatments to fight melanoma, and is currently in a second clinical trial at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale receiving Merck’s anti-PD-1 drug Lambrolizumab

The Patient #1 blog will update the progress of T.J.'s fight against cancer, and also touch on many cancer-related topics.

Follow T.J. on Twitter and Facebook. Reach T.J. at Patient1@tjsharpe.com.

T.J. Sharpe
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