Rene is free of disease! Remission is an ugly word for such a wonderful thing.
Rene's doctor met with us today (and our beloved head nurse made sure she was there, too. She opened the door to the exam room and came in saying, "I want to be here too.") The doctor had only good news to give us. She said, "Rene is in the best possible position to be in right now." She said that his status is "Complete Remission." She's used to being a rock in an emotional setting and delivered the message in a normal tone. Our nurse teased her saying something like, "You'd better smile, otherwise I'll get a call later from Julia saying she's worried because the look on your face didn't match the message." So, she cracked a shy smile and said, "I'm absolutely thrilled."
The scans that Rene did this week came back negative. That means that after they injected MIBG into a vein in his arm -- a substance that active Neuroblastoma cells absorb -- and put him into a machine that detects MIBG, they didn't see any. THAT means that any neuroblastoma cells that remain in his body are no longer actively dividing; no longer cancerous.
The CT scan taken on Wednesday does show what is left of the tumour after resection (removal), but the fact that it didn't absorb the MIBG, means the radiation killed it. It will just stay there and as his body gets bigger, it will remain the same size.
The bone marrow biopsy on Monday showed 5% Neurblastoma cells, but they appear to be matured. The doctor says that they look at the samples taken from the biopsy under a microscope and visually identify and count them. Those they could see appear to be matured, but because they are visually identifying them, they don't use the bone marrow biopsy to confirm that they are matured. The MIBG coming back negative, does that.
The echo cardiogram showed that his heart is in good condition.
The Kidney test confirms that his kidneys are fine.
Hearing loss is to be expected and we can already observe it, but he will be evaluated for that
As you can tell from the list of tests above, Rene had a very busy week. He was an absolute angel. He handles all of this with skill and grace! He even dealt with an injection of MIBG and saline rinse into the crook of his arm that takes 5-minutes to administer!
The cis-retinoic acid and the chimeric antibody that we will begin in January will help to ensure that all remaining cells mature and therefore won't divide.
It really does feel better to know that there are no cancerous cells in his body. I felt a sense of lightness as we left the hospital today. We'll be back and we have people here who have become a part of our lives, so the cancer journey continues. Also I'm a bit concerned about the discomfort of the upcoming antibody treatment, but it's nothing like the poisonous chemotherapy that destroys healthy cells.
It's even easier to enjoy Rene's silliness and energy. He sure is a cutey.
He was playing hide-and-seek with a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House this evening and he hid behind the Christmas tree in the quiet room every time. He'd come in, climb over the end of the couch and slip down under the tree by the wall. "Mom," he'd say in a loud theatrical whisper, "Don't tell him I'm back here."
"OK dear. I won't tell him why the tree is shaking and all of the ornaments are swaying."