For once, some good news!
My oncologist called me and told me that nearly all of my mets had shrunk and were looking better! Even the brain mets, which means that the Keytruda is working on them already, since the radiation won’t show effects until two months out. Only one of the mets in my kidney looked slightly more active, which is honestly NBD compared to the bad news I’m used to getting.
My onc was so funny because even with this, the best news I’ve gotten in a year, probably, even with this he qualified the news with “It’s not 100% better.” SOOOO funny! I mean, I would have been over the freaking moon if all of a sudden all of the mets disappeared. But this news is still fantastic because it means we are moving in the right direction for once! It also means I get to keep taking the Keytruda, which is fabulous.
I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my body and how flabbergastingly amazing these past few months have been. I feel better today than I have in a year, probably (well, except for the multi-hour naps I still need every day). I still have mets all over, but my blood work and functioning seem practically normal. I have been hearing snippets from friends and family about the time when I was in the hospital and when I was in hospice and just how awful I looked. My nurse told me that she had so many reservations about how long I might be for this world–something I’ve heard from others as well. And now… I just can’t even believe it! My nurse visits are super short because I have so few issues these days, and I feel so much better than I used to.
I am so, so deeply grateful that if I had to get melanoma, it was now and not even a few years ago. Keytruda was only FDA approved in September of last year, less than a year ago. Prior to that, I would have had very limited options, if any. Without this drug, my melanoma would be running unchecked, with the metastases growing ever larger. My lifespan would be so much shorter without it. With it, I at least have a chance for more months, maybe years if I am VERY lucky. From what I can see in the research, it will eventually stop working (like all the drugs), but it could keep working to give me a lot more time than could have ever been dreamed even 2 years ago.
I also have to give credit to the hundreds of people out there praying for me and sending good thoughts. My mom is convinced that a large part of my turnaround from death’s door was having so many people come visit me in hospice where I could see and feel the love (sadly, I do not remember most of this). There was no medical reason for me to get better. I was bleeding internally, likely from multiple sources. They couldn’t find the source of the bleeding, so couldn’t stop it surgically, and the drugs they gave me only had a side effect of somewhat stopping bleeding, and they were not expected to “cure” or “fix” me. The best things I had going for me were my will to live and the love, prayers and thoughts of countless friends and strangers. Once I stabilized, I was able to start the Keytruda, and here we are today!
So, thanks to a combo of science, prayer, love, and a whole lot of luck, I am here today and for at least a little while longer, according to this wonderful PET scan!