We got some good news from my recent CT scan: the targeted chemotherapy drug sacituzumab govitecan hziy, otherwise known as Sasquatch, is working! The scan shows that the involved lymph nodes have shrunk significantly, 80 percent by my oncologist’s estimation. Some of them appear to be almost gone.
I have something called “stranding” and some swelling in my upper left chest and shoulder. The “stranding” is a kind of ropy tissue that they think is scar tissue from where Sasquatch killed cancer cells, radiation-induced fibrosis (RIF), or some combination of both. The same with the swelling–they think it is inflammation associated with the healing process, and/or lymphedema associated with fibrosis. As long as it doesn’t get worse, they aren’t concerned about it, especially since the adjacent lymph nodes have shrunk. It may be taking the drug a bit longer to work on some of the tumor growth in my skin, since both cancer and prior radiation have negatively impacted blood flow and the lymphatics there. Hopefully ongoing work with my lymphedema therapist will improve the stranding over time.
It is such a relief to get good news! I’m grateful every day that Sasquatch received expedited FDA approval when it did. For now, I’ll stay on the drug and continue with the same dosage schedule. My medical oncologist will get some more information about research into the efficacy of alternative dosing schedules when he (virtually) attends a medical conference on breast cancer in mid-December. After that, we’ll know more about whether and how we might change my regimen going forward.
It was literally this same week last year when I had a punch-biopsy of my skin and then had to wait on the results. I was days away from a big 50th birthday celebration, and finding out the cancer was back for a third round was devastating. There won’t be a big party this year–just Steve and me at home, a small cake from my favorite local bakery, and a couple of Zoom calls with family and friends. But we’ll be celebrating this much better news, and that’s the best gift I could have hoped for!
Those of you who followed my CaringBridge blog (or are on my personal Facebook page) know that when I was diagnosed a second time, I started wearing #sillysocksforstrength to encourage myself and others who were fighting battles unseen. I still wear my silly socks, and these are the ones I chose for my appointment yesterday:
This third time around, I upped the game a little by adding a pair of combat boots. I still have mixed feelings about all the language of fighting and battles we use when we talk about cancer (you can read more about that here if you’re interested in my thoughts on the subject), but the various talismans of joy, silliness, and strength I’ve adopted buoy my spirits. So here’s to vintage hats, silly socks, and kick-ass boots–and good news and good medicine!