A post just as I promised, to let our sympathisers know Sam’s recent MRI scan result: it basically showed little change from the last one in March 2011. There is no shrinkage, but equally the main mass remains dormant – in Dr Griffin’s words, ‘bland’ – a low grade 1 or 2. There are some new nodules ‘lighting up’ with the contrast medium they inject that may indicate the beginnings of some grade 3 growth, so they will organise another scan in 6 months time and we’ll go through all this again. Ah – it never goes away, the miracle we long for doesn’t magic all our fears away – the persevering journey just continues for another phase.
Meanwhile today we are all dealing with our emotional reactions to this – along with trying to recover physically! Yes it is good news that it hasn’t grown – we didn’t expect that at all anyway in the absence of any symptoms – but it is not what the medical cannabis lobby were hoping for. The fact the tumour is still there – like a ‘pancake in his brain’ as Sam dubbed it – is a painful reality check, a reminder to all of us of the hidden enemy we are facing.
So the war of attrition continues using whatever weapons there may be available to stop its advance, proven or not. The option of conventional chemotherapy remains in the arsenal – and to our surprise Sam said he would be willing to try that if it came to it… yuk. But until such time as there is evidence of acceleration, we carry on as we are. The vigilance continues, the shunt continues to do its work so that thankfully there are no raised pressure symptoms, Sam carries on with the things he is putting his faith in and we continue to pray for healing, grace and strength; meanwhile what will happen and when stays just below our horizon. Those nodules are not certainly not welcome – Sam’s father pounced on them straight away – but we must try not to dwell on them… the consultant didn’t.
Sam certainly coped with his return to the clinic really well – better than Becca and I did, as we sat side by side with our shoulders touching, watching the doctor’s words come out of his mouth, glancing at us sympathetically throughout. Sam declined a chair, standing up like a lawyer to make his case, ticking off the various alternative approaches – acupuncture, flaxseed oil, anti-epileptic medication, the hemp oil regime… declaring that his next crazy plan, if things become acute, would be to raise enough money to go to an alternative clinic in Texas which the rest of us absolutely disagree would do any good at all except to make us all poor.
We have no way of knowing if any of the things he’s trying are doing any good at all: it is likely any treatment against cancer cells works in the same way as radio and chemotherapy, ie disrupts them when they are rapidly dividing. His ‘pancake’ has been growing there so long that apart from its space-occupying nature, its effect on his brain function and its propensity to accelerate into deadly, fast-growing stage 3 and 4, it is not in itself a threat… ha. If and when it does transform, that’s when the sparks begin to fly; in the meantime it hangs over all our lives like Damocles sword – and being human we will fight it to the end. Everyone does that, of course – death is not welcome – but Sam in particular, because he is so young and all his hopes for the future are at stake.
I commented on the way home that this tumour in his head has made him who he is. He won’t accept that, of course – it is an alien invader to him – but he does know that the fight against it has made him the man he has become.