Some Basic Info

I was first diagnosed with malignant brain tumors on 11-20-08 and I finished treatment for those on 4-13-09. I was recently diagnosed with a recurrence on 12-08-09. I set up this blog so people could follow along with my progress and keep up with what is going on in my treatment. I also wanted to put up information from my first go round so people could learn a little bit about what happened to me before.
The blog is set up with the newest posts first. Sometimes I will post stories from my first experience, in which casse it will be slightly out of order, but the titles will let you know. If you want to look at older posts, which may provide a better idea of the whole picture, use the "Blog Archive" tool on the right side of the page to browse them. The titles of the posts should be pretty self-explanatory. If you don't really know that much about me, or what happened, you should check out these two posts first: this one about what's happening now, and this one about my first experience.
Feel free to leave comments, it should be open to everyone now. Thanks for visiting, I hope this little blurb clears up some confusion, and I hope you like the blog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tumor Markers

I know I haven't posted in a while, but that's a good thing in a lot of ways. I haven't posted recently because medically there hasn't really been that many new developments, which I see a a really good thing. I'm tired of all the "excitement" that comes along with cancer.
Today I did receive some news that does require sharing. It requires a little set-up first though.
One of the characteristics of the type of cancer that I had is that the tumor cells create chemical compounds called tumor markers when they are active. The two compounds that they create are Beta-HCG and Alpha-fetoprotein which can show up in the bloodstream and the cerebrospinal fluid (if the tumor is on the brain or spine) for a total of 4 measurable tumor markers. Just before and during my treatment, the levels of these compounds were well above the normal levels for humans, but they slowly decreased with each stage of treatment. After the stem cell rescue procedure, all but one of the tumor markers, Beta-HCG in the spinal fluid, were down to normal levels. The tumor marker was only slightly elevated, but it was enough to cause suspicion that there might still be active tumor cells. Because of this my radiation dose was increased to the maximum limit, in the hopes of reducing the tumor marker to a normal level. Also, as part of the stem cell rescue clinical trial I was involved in, I needed to start taking Isotretinoin in the hopes that it could halt any remaining tumor cells from growing. The past few times I had had my tumor marker levels measured, the Beta-HCG in the spinal fluid had still been just slightly elevated. The level had stayed at pretty much the same place since the end of my stem cell transplant.
The news that I received today was that my latest blood and spinal fluid draws showed all the tumor markers to be in the normal range! I'm incredibly happy with this news. Before, even though the tumor markers were constant and did not rise, there was always the ambiguity of the fact that one was slightly elevated. There was always the chance that at some point in the future it could rise, the horrible thought of the possibility of a second recurrence. Now, the fact that all the tumor markers are normal is a huge relief. I'm still going to continue taking the isotretinoin just because in this situation I would much rather be safe then sorry, but hopefully when that's over I'll be done with this whole extravaganza and it'll just become a memory and I'll be able to continue with my life.


Anonymous said...

Well you were so used to being above average it took you awhile to get into "normal range." Congrats that's some awesome news, looking forward to seeing you soon! Love, Martha

Aunt Margaret said...

It's great to catch up on your blog, especially with the news that you are finally normal! (Yeah, right.) Wish I was still working in high school - my students would NEVER believe you hung out with Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco!!! (It's wasted news on my geezer buddies...) As for that great PICC line removal video, I watched every second of it. Somehow it reminds me of the little "snake" I used last night to try to unclog my kitchen drain... Looking forward to our next visit! XXXOOOs

Mrs. Weiss said...

Hi Miles-
That is such great news! We are very happy that your levels are down, and your treatment is working. I hope you continue to improve and are able to enjoy life more and more. Say hi to all your family for me.

Anonymous said...

MILES!!!! OMG!!! I can't believe what I just read!!! I am so so so happy for you! I have been thinking about you all summer, and just came across this blog while I was trying to find you on facebook. I read your August post, and was totally holding my breath til you gave the tumor marker results!!!! YEAH!!!! Such great fantastic wonderful news. And the Kanye thing wasn't too shabby either. Hope you don't forget about Make a Wish! Tell your mom I said hi!!