Today I got to see images from my most recent (and third) MRI brain scan and with it, the first not-great news to date. While my second MRI showed extraordinary promise with a near 50% reduction in tumor size, and over the past few months I've experienced a return in many of my hormone levels, the results today weren't great. My most recent scan showed negligible change in tumor size (we were hoping for continued reduction) but worse than that, the scan showed two different densities in the tumor, with most of the tumor looking to be quite dense. It could be caused by a variety of things, but the most likely result is the tumor will not likely be getting much smaller. We'll try higher doses of medication and keep repeating these brain scans every 6 months going forward. While the tumor didn't change in size, if it does start to grow again it will be time for surgery to remove as much as we can.
So far I've been lucky in getting good progress reports every month or so as we've done oodles of testing so today's results were the first time it really dawned on me that this is a serious ailment and not likely to go away anytime soon. I know this all started with a pretty big health scare for my friends and family, but to be honest over the past 8 months since it happened I felt like my friends were taking it harder than I was. Everywhere I went since it happened, people corner me to ask how I'm doing and I've often felt a little guilty as their concern for my health seemed to be greater than my own. I was making extraordinary progress this whole time and I guess I figured I was still relatively young and invincible and this minor problem could be easily licked, so today was the day it actually dawned on me that this is serious.
This may never go away completely. This may very well require drilling holes in my skull to try and fix with no guarantee it will be a permanent fix.
Lastly, I found out that even if we can hold everything steady, the medications I'm on have side effects from prolonged use. One shows increased mortality over long periods of use. Another can affect my heart valves over time and leave me with some pretty serious heart disease. I went to the doctor today hoping for not-bad news (I didn't want to hear about a larger tumor) but 12 hours later as I write this, I'm kind of surprised how my not-bad-but-not-good news is really the first time this whole thing started to feel real.