Hi everyone, it's Harvey here. There's not a lot to share at the moment, but we traveled to Houston for appointments on April 16th and 17th so I want to go ahead and post a quick update.
Erica had a CT scan of the chest and pelvis at this appointment. The results were very good showing no new disease and everything previously noted as being stable. There wasn't an MRI of the brain this trip since there was one done just over a month prior at the follow up with the Gamma Knife specialist (the treated brain tumor was reported to be controlled and likely killed off after viewing that MRI).
The CT scan and blood work did indicate that her pancreas was inflamed, referred to as pancreatitis. Because of that the Medical Oncologists (Dr. Hwu) decided to discontinue the treatment of Nivolumab infusions (that were being administered once monthly up until now). He said the pancreas inflammation was likely due to the treatment. He expects the pancreas will calm down on its own after discontinuing the Nivolumab. They are going to monitor the pancreas with blood work periodically to ensure it returns to normal.
Dr. Hwu didn't seemed too concerned with stopping the Nivolumab treatment. Erica has been receiving it for just shy of a year and he thinks it was probably enough time period that her immune system has learned to recognize the malignant cells on its own. We asked if he might choose to resume the Nivolumab at some point and he said possibly.
We asked for clarification about the language used in scan reports saying that areas of disease are stable. He explained that the locations where there was tumor growth can still be seen in the scans, but there is no growth. He said that the locations with prior disease have tissue damage and they can't be sure if there are living malignant cells that are just staying small or if all of the malignant cells are dead and it is just scarring. The only way to determine that would be through biopsy and they don't like to do something that evasive just to check.
April 17th, 2019 was one year since the day we received the news in the emergency room that there were too many tumors to count on Erica's liver. A decade ago this was a reality for basically none of the patients that had the same diagnosis, they would have had just weeks remaining. We are so fortunate and the world remains a better place with this wife, mom, daughter, sister, teacher, friend, honey, babe in it!
We will return to MD Anderson in Houston in mid July for another CT scan and MRI. Lets keep this roll going!
- Joy & Happiness
Harvey & Erica Braden
Journal of our journey with a Metastatic Melanoma Diagnosis. Erica was diagnosed Stage 3 in January 2010 and then Stage 4 in April 2018.