It ain’t over til it’s over

One of the ways that oncologists keep track of cancer in the bodies of their patients is with tumor markers. In my case, there are two types of tumor markers that have been used to watch the progress of chemotherapy — Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), and Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

Before I had surgery, blood was drawn to test for these two markers, and both were extremely elevated. Following surgery, I have been tested several times, and each successive test showed a marked decrease in levels. But when Dawn and I sat down with Dr. Arbaje today, one of the first things he said in his Dominican Republic accent was, “Well, I am concerned.” The cause of his concern was the marker AFP, which had apparently plateaued at a level still above the normal amount found in healthy people without cancer in their bodies. Though it had decreased through chemotherapy significantly, the last two times it was checked, it remained at the same number, and no one is quite sure why.

So, what does this mean? Well, for me it means more tests, and lots of unanswered (for now unanswerable) questions. Next up: another PET scan (remember the radioactive sugar routine?), more blood work, and in a few weeks another consultation with Dr. Arbaje. There is a possibility of further chemotherapy treatments — using different drugs that may be able to rid my body of potentially resistant cancer cells. There are lots of other possibilities too ranging from doing nothing and monitoring me closely to a bone marrow transplant, but for now it is another waiting game.

I’ll keep you posted.


4 Responses to “It ain’t over til it’s over”

  1. Well, of course, its not what we wanted to hear. On the other hand, if there’s something else that needs to be addressed, it very good that they have such precise tests to pinpoint the problem. I was devastated at first; now I’m hopeful again. Love you.

  2. Michael, thanks for the update, frightening as it may be. It is nerve wracking to have the events in your life hinging on the outcome of a short office visit.
    I used to walk out of my ongoing dr’s appts feeling like the whole world had changed but all that had happened was that I was given information. The conditions had been there before I walked in the door, but all of a sudden, I felt different.

    I don’t know if that made any sense, but I care, whatever you are feeling.

    love ya!


  3. Hello Mike. I’ve been without a connection, vacation, etc. so I haven’t visited in a bit. I’m saying a special thought for you right““““`now. I actually thought I’d pop in to see how you are doing.

    I had a great chat with our local Children’s Theatre today about their trouping show we always have at our Library. They are doing Harriet the Spy for us in the Spring. You can see their info and great pics at:
    Just fun folks!

    I actually can’t wait to see you get the eco-theater blog going again. Look forward, onward and up.

    My thoughts, and good vibes are sent. If you have round two, then come out swinging.

    P.S. Your book is now being catalogued into our system. Keep writing! Shannon

  4. Mike, I just wanted say again that we are with you and with Dawn. But you know that already.
    I also wanted to thank you for this blog. The simplicity and honesty of your writing I will not forget. Many of us will walk at one time or another on a similar road so we will remember your way to tackle the path and it will be a great help.
    Thank you.
    With a lot of love.

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