Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shocked & Scared...the latest with Austin

We are on a roller coaster for sure. We went in yesterday for a PET scan for Austin so they could evaluate his liver growth before we started the radiation. We were totally caught off guard when Dr Czito (who I really really like by the way) came in to tell us that there was a paratrachea lymph node that was slightly enlarged and "glowing" on his scan. The lymph node is up high, in between his lungs, near his trachea (throat). When things "glow" on PET scans that is usually an indication of metastasis or inflammation. He told us not to freak out yet (easier said than done) and that we will biopsy the node to see if there is any malignancy or not. 

I just got off the phone and the biopsy is scheduled for this Friday at 10:30am. They will put him to sleep and pass a tube down his throat to biopsy the node. This should be less painful than his previous biopsy since they aren't having to cut him. I am hoping so at least. I of course just wish he didn't have to go through all this. 

So, now we wait and see. Dr. Czito said this would be a total "game changer" if it comes back malignant. Because we would no longer be looking at localized cancer, we would be looking at a malignant systemic cancer. Please, please, please God don't let that be our fate. I really don't believe it is but at the same time, I never believed his liver tumor would come back as cancer either. 

If the biopsy comes back as normal healthy lymph node tissue, showing no malignancy, then the plan is back on with what we originally thought. We will do localized radiation therapy to his liver edge where the tumor was removed. The therapy will be 5-6 weeks everyday, Monday - Friday and then he will be finished. While he receives the radiation he will also receive a chemotherapy drug to help aid the radiation, essentially to help it work more effectively. The chemotherapy drug is a "radiation sensitizer" and is called Xeloda. We will have more discussion of this before we start treatment but that's the brief details. 

If the lymph node comes back with a malignancy then radiation will no longer be in the plan. Radiation is for localized treatment (you can't radiate your whole body) so since Austin's cancer is no longer localized he would no longer be a candidate. We would most likely look into a longer chemotherapy regimen and possibly surgical removal of the lymph node. Dr. Czito said these nodes aren't typically removed, but given that he isn't a surgeon, I don't' really know if I believe that. A pulmonologist will be doing the biopsy and I feel as though he can better tell us if this node can be removed or not. Anyway, no need to go there until we find out what is going on with this lymph node. 

On a better note, we didn't talk much about his liver growth since this came up but he did briefly say that his liver looked good. All of his labs that were drawn yesterday looked wonderful and his liver function remains perfect. Also, the lymph nodes that were enlarged originally, near his liver, are no longer enlarged. Praise God! I was really worried about those and almost felt as if they were overlooked. They were enlarged as a reaction to the tumor but are now back to normal size. That did make us feel really good. 

God is really testing our faith right now. He has been so faithful to us so far and we have no reason to believe he won't continue to do so. It's hard, not letting your emotions take over and thinking about the worst, but that just shows my lack of faith. I am trying my hardest to believe and have faith in God. I have surrendered myself to Him and Austin and I are learning every day more and more that we are not in control of this life we live. 

Whoever reading this, I don't know who you are, but I do know there are a lot of you. My blog tells me there are hundreds of people reading these posts and I love that. Please pray for us, please pray for our strength and peace, and our faith. I pray for stronger faith every day and I pray Austin stays mentally strong as we fight this fight. It is a battle for sure, and our lives have forever been changed. 

Monday, July 16, 2012


Feeling kind of anxious today. Tomorrow we go for Austin's PET scan. The radiation oncologist has ordered the scan so we can evaluate Austin's liver size and see how well it has regenerated (grown back) since his surgery. Before they start any radiation therapy we have to make sure his liver is large and well enough to handle the treatment. They can also see any areas of metatasis and I guess that is what I am anxious about. They have told us the cancer was contained to the liver, the CT and MRI showed no evidence of mets but I guess with the different imaging - the PET scan - I worry about something crazy showing up. I'm sure not, but I am getting a little anxious regardless.

I hope we find out great news, and for that I am excited! I hope we hear that they don't see anything and his liver has grown back really well and we can start radiation. Austin has labs first and then the scan is scheduled for 11:30. We have an appointment at 3:00 with Dr. Czito where we will discuss the scan results and figure out the definitive plan. Please pray for our strength tomorrow and for good results! And also please pray Austin is strong while he lays in the scanner...for 30 minutes or's a long time to lay alone and think. Love you so much, Aus.