Friday, July 14, 2017

The latest news

It’s not the best news, but not terrible either.

In June Teresa and I spent two busy and enjoyable weeks in England and South Africa, mostly doing research for my biography of the South African lawyer and judge Arthur Chaskalson. We got back from South Africa and the next day, June 23, I had a CT scan. It showed that there had been no spread outside my liver (which is very good), but it also showed two or three new, small growths in my liver. The problem was that the appearance of these growths was “atypical” for tumors, so it wasn’t clear what they were. As a result, Sloan Kettering ordered an MRI to get another view.

This was a total ordeal, because the place it was done, East River Medical Imaging, wasted vast amounts of our time and didn’t produce prompt results. So although the MRI was originally supposed to get done on June 28, it was only done on June 30, and we were told not to expect results before Monday, July 3.

But we didn’t get results that day either, because our oncologist decided that the scans should be presented to the MSK doctors’ regular conference for their assessment. That took place on Thursday, July 6. Even after that we didn’t get the results until after the oncologist had consulted with another doctor -- the reason for this being that our oncologist is leaving Sloan Kettering (for what sounded like an irresistible opportunity elsewhere) and this other doctor is the person our oncologist chose to take over my case. Anyway, the two doctors spoke on Friday, July 7, and were in complete agreement, and here are the conclusions:

First, even though the MRI found the same thing as the CT – new growths of atypical appearance – they’ve concluded that these are new tumors. That means that the chemotherapy I’ve been on since February or so has stopped working, so it’s time to change gears.

So, second, the new plan is to return me to chemotherapy via the pump that’s been sitting in my abdomen all year not really doing anything. I’ll be getting a combination of a drug I had previously, called FUDR, and one I haven’t had yet, called mitomycin. This has in fact already begun, three days ago (July 11). Hopefully it will stop these new tumors.

Meanwhile, I feel fine – except that I’m still getting over my second round of bad cold/bronchitis in a month. Teresa and I had both been completely healthy since I was diagnosed with cancer (that is, aside from the cancer), and now we’ve both had these two bad colds. Boo. 


  1. Hoping the pump approach works well. And that the summer colds disappear quickly. Lenni

  2. Steve: Your blog is amazingly well written. Only hard core master debaters from ETHS can use the vast amounts of waiting and "down time" in chemotherapy to produce insightful compelling commentary. Liza and I are in France right now and we are thinking of you. Same from Scott and Nancy who I lunched with before I left. Rocko, pow, socko to your cancer!!! All the very best, Howard