We traveled to Houston for MD Anderson Cancer Center appointments on 3/19/19. It was a long day but the appointment times made it so we were able to drive there and back in the same day. We headed out at 6:15 am and arrived back home about 8:00 pm. Harvey IV and Braxton went with us this time.
The first appointment was for an MRI of the head. At the second appointment they had the MRI results and we went over them. The prior bleeding around the brain tumor site has cleared up well. They were able to get a good look at the tumor this time. The radiation specialist doctor said everything looks good. The tumor is showing signs of dying off and she expects it is now under control.
We tried to clarify if she expects that it is gone for good and couldn't get a real straight answer on that. From best I could decipher the radiation did a good job and they don't expect it to grow anymore.
We also discussed the numbness and tingling in the right leg and foot. Erica's leg has regained most of the feeling but her foot remains pretty numb. The doctor said she expects the numbness to continue to go away as her brain continues to heal,
Ever since the previous MRI showed blood around the radiated area she has been taking double the dose of hydrocortisone totaling 60mg a day. The increase in the steroid medication was meant to help the brain eliminate the residual blood and heal faster. She is now going to reduce that back down to 30mg a day. You have to lower the dose very slowly so that there are no side effects. It will take a few weeks of slowly lowering the dose by 5mg each time.
The response to treatment since last April with the stage 4 diagnosis has been amazing. At the moment everything is very stable and we are set to return to MD Anderson in about a month for a full checkup. They are doing a PET CT scan of the chest and abdomen next trip. Then we will see the medical oncologist. Looking forward to a positive visit!
Erica has been at work full time this school year. She has had a few days where she Just needed to stay home and rest. On the day that she goes for the nivolumab infusion in Fort Worth, every four weeks, she leaves work about 2:00 and that has been on a Thursday each time.
I truly don't know how she does it, she is so strong willed and almost dare I say relentless. I am amazed by her and she is so amazing! The stomach pain persists on most days and she just carries on, able to act like nothing is wrong most of the time. The stomach pain is something we don't have a clear understanding of, but it is more than likely a side effect of the immunotherapy.
That's all I have for now. We'll update after next appointment in April. Thanks again for all of the loving thoughts and prayers!
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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.