I had to answer a bunch of questions at church this morning about Erin and her health. She looks great and for most people seeing = believing. They see that she looks healthy, so they want to believe she is healthy (whole, cured, recovered. . .you pick the word). They don't say it, but some of them don't understand why she is still on the prayer list. I struggle to explain.
Does she still have measurable cancer?
Yes. She has two suspicious areas that show up on her CT scan (both small, but definitely there. Remember the Goldfish and the Cheerio?).
What're those two tumors doing?
Nothing much. They've been sitting there looking the same (I always use the word stable) for a pretty long time (maybe four or five scans in a row--at least since late last fall).
Do you know for sure they're tumors?
Not really. They could be scar tissue, dead tumor, or latent tumor just biding its time for later.
Why doesn't the doctor just take them out, look at them, biopsy them, whatever and find out. Then Erin would be cancer free.
The doctor won't remove them for three reasons: 1. Relapsed neuroblastoma is incredibly tricky. It would almost certainly come back even after resection, so surgery doesn't buy you much. 2. In fact, removing the tumor might put the doctor into a moral conundrum about treatment. We would probably have to stop treating Erin (which we believe is why she has stayed stable all of these months) if there was nothing measurable to treat. 3. By leaving the bits there, the doctor has a point of comparison from scan to scan (like a marker) that indicates what's happening inside.
How long will this go on?
We hope for a long time. That will mean that Erin is feeling well and the tumor is behaving. In the meantime we're going to take advantage of our good fortune.
Speaking of which. If you have a free moment Tuesday morning around 9:00, you might want to come down to the Brazos County Courthouse (ask for the room where the county commissioners meet). The County Commissioners are declaring September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Brazos County. Erin will receive the proclamation on behalf of local pediatric cancer patients (in treatment, off treatment, and angels). We would love to see a large crowd there raising awareness for Childhood Cancer.