April 25, 2016
We are in Seattle for a few days and today Michelle was seen by a pancreas specialist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the top cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and among the top five in the nation. The oncologist was very clear that she does not believe Michelle's illness to be pancreatic cancer.
This is surprising in that it is shocking to hear so firmly, but also not entirely surprising since Michelle's illness has not been consistent with most pancreatic cancers. In recent weeks, even before the last scan, we've felt increasingly unsure of the working diagnosis.
We were recommended to continue treatment at OHSU back home, but as soon as possible for cancer of unknown primary (CUP) while we await the biopsy genetic testing for a possible more targeted therapy. Ironically, this is what our original oncologist at Providence felt in December, not sure enough to make a more concrete diagnosis. The fact that Michelle had no holding steady or positive response to both previous chemo regimens is also an indicator of this. Such things happen in medicine—cancer is highly personal and vastly complicated. We are just glad that we have some more eyes on the problem and have options ahead of us, as well as much better odds. Pancreatic cancer is pretty much the worst cancer, so all news otherwise is good news compared to what we've been living with these past few months.
We are still dealing with a very advanced and very aggressive cancer, and in the past week or so Michelle has felt more full, more weak, and more uncomfortable. We have the highest hopes that a CUP-focused chemo will help her feel better in the short term while we dig into the biopsy results in detail. We did also find that Michelle has no known inherited genetic mutations, which further points to a high unlikelihood that she would develop pancreas cancer sporadically.
We continue to work on complementary treatment alongside everything else—acupuncture, guided imagery and positive thinking, high CBD cannabis oil, proper nutrition, and more. We see today's news as good news—the first good news we've ever gotten in this grueling journey.