de·crease [v. dih-krees; n. dee-krees, dih-krees]
verb: to diminish or lessen in extent, quantity, strength or power
This is what my latest CT scan shows - "decreasing size and conspicuity of lymph nodes within the right neck, left supraclavicular region, right superior hilum, retroperitoneum, and pelvis..." There is also "improvement" in my lungs and "stability" in my mediastinum.
The word decrease is used six times in the report.
This is not a word I have read often in my files.
While the scan still showed a slightly mixed response, our assumptions (and expectations) were correct - overall, the Bendamustine is having a positive effect.
Of course, this is a relief. What is even more reassuring, however, is that my mind knows what my body is doing. I would have felt a huge sense of disconnection and bewilderment otherwise.
Now the goal is to strrrreeetch the use of the Bendamustine for as long as we can. It does suppress my counts (which are still holding up remarkably well) and there is a maximum toxicity level which cannot be exceeded, so it is not something that can be used indefinitely. Six cycles is usually the maximum.
Heading into cycle three next week, I am encouraged, and hoping that I can again avoid the side effects of the first round. So, on we go then, living with cancer as a "chronic" disease - a surreal existence for certain.
What it is all for, or means, I have no idea.
What I do know is that grace visited me three times today in the form of friendship and generosity, and that this is bigger and more important than cancer ever will be.