Started my "meds" on Monday 8/6. I take Gleevec once a day. It's my new desert after dinner. From Wiki:
Gleevec received FDA approval in May 2001. On the same month it made the cover of TIME magazine as the "magic bullet" to cure cancer. Imatinib (branded as Gleevec) is the first of a new class of drugs that act by specifically inhibiting a certain enzyme – a receptor tyrosine kinase – that is characteristic of a particular cancer cell, rather than non-specifically inhibiting and killing all rapidly dividing cells.
I met with a surgical oncologist on Thursday 8/9. He was recommended by my oncologist. While my oncologist thought we would soon proceed with surgery, the surgical guy's not in such a hurry. In fact he suggests we wait for 3 to 6 months, maybe longer, before any cutting.
One, he's aware of the effectiveness of Gleevec, and he'd like to see it knock the tumors down a few pegs. That way any surgery is less invasive.
Two, we looked at my CT scan. Believe it or not, I've never looked at any of the CT scan images of my previous scans. Doc says "come on, follow me" and we leave the exam room for one of the nursing stations that had an Apple computer with a really big monitor.
After logging on to a password protected website, Doc is able to find my scan. That by itself was amazing to me (as his office is not affiliated with the imaging office who did the scan). So he pulls up the scan and we view my GI tract one layer at a time.
Bummer. While I had read the results of the CT scan, and my oncologist had spent time deciphering it for us, the pictures make it a lot more real. There's a lot of funny business going on down there. And the lessions look bigger in an image versus a description. Of particular concern is my liver.
Though he never used the term, I would have to describe it as inoperable - meaning there's no sense in touching it. If a tumor were isolated to just one area of the liver, surgery could be useful. When there are spots all over the organ, you really can't do anything - except let the drug do it's deal to reduce or at least stabilize the tumors.
Good news is that my liver is still working like a champ, but I really don't know what the long term solution will be. The surgical guy thought that some targeted chemo and/or radiation may be an option later - but I'm of the understanding is that GIST doesn't respond well to that.
So we'll need to put some other eyes on the situation. While both of my oncologists have been terrific, neither have a lot of experience with this rare cancer. Thankfully we have some time to go shopping.
Please pray that the Gleevec will kick the snot out of the tumors and that God will lead us to an expert.