After a year on Xeloda plus Avastin, my CEA has reached the normal range and stayed there for a month. I took a week off from chemotherapy to share a vacation with my family (mother, three sisters, two brothers-in-law, one niece, three nephews, and my girlfriend) in Florida.
By the end of the week I felt something surprising: normalcy. My energy level is good, my appetite is solid, my skin condition is closer to normal. My previously tumor-ravaged hip joint didn't give me any trouble in miles of walking per day. My mental capacities are slowly improving enough so that I started a fresh batch of computer simulations for work, something I haven't done since declaring my cancer returned in June 2006. I don't feel like I have cancer anymore.
We are continuing with chemotherapy and that alone will be enough to make me feel sick for the coming months. But we have quietly reached the milestone where it's worthwhile to reevaluate the state of my body and look for a basis of hope that good health can last beyond a few weeks or months.
There will be a flood of information coming and it will keep me busy running medical errands. I will receive genetic test results from Johns Hopkins University next week. The following day I will get a radioactive injection for a full body bone scan. I will return to the National Institutes of Health for CT and PET scans. And we'll continue to watch my CEA and see whether it rebounds or stays low.
I'm starting to think about what to do with myself if we declare my cancer in remission and stop treatment. The first time I reached remission we thought I might be cured and treated it as a cause for celebration. This time I'm reluctant to hope for being cured. But for all the unexpected tragedies in life, isn't it possible to sometimes find an unexpected miracle?