Since it has happened in the past, we were all hoping the lab had made a mistake in processing Sherryl's blood and that the tumor marker of 168 was wrong. Nancy had the lab re-check their processing, and it was confirmed the tumor marker is correct.
Sherryl had responded well to the current treatment plan, so there was no reason to schedule a PET scan since the previous one was done last October. Given the spike in the tumor marker, Sherryl will have another PET scan on Thursday, March 5, and she will probably learn the results the following day. Then Sherryl's medical team will determine the next course of treatment, which will include a change in chemotherapy medication since she has stopped responding to the one currently administered.
The spike in the tumor marker feels like a major setback. The only pain Sherryl feels is very low in her back, but the pain is not constant. And she is so good about getting as much sleep as her body tells her she needs. The new tumor marker comes as a blow and Sherryl has not felt this disappointed in a long time. She said, "This is the best I've felt. It's so disappointing to find out this chemo isn't working any more."
She went on to say that it feels like a roller coaster, driven by the tumor marker highs and lows. Each time the tumor marker spikes, a new plan is needed. Her body response well, the tumor marker drops and all is well, then her body stops responding and another change is needed. One step forward, two steps back. Nancy has reassured Sherryl that there are many, many options available relative to chemotherapy medications and treatment plans.
Through this entire journey, there is one thing that Sherryl says she's learned to do that brings her great pride. She has a new way of crying, and she's really excited about it. She's able to cry without her face contorting. What Oprah calls "the ugly cry," Sherryl calls "contorted face cry." In the two years she's had cancer, Sherryl has learned to relax the muscles in her face and now just lets the tears roll down her cheeks. No facial contortion. At all. She doesn't cry often, but when there are setbacks like this one and tears well in her eyes, this new way of crying is great progress.
The "new way of crying" story doesn't translate well without Sherryl's voice. She explains it in a way that has her audience in hysterics. And ultimately, she's once again found the proverbial silver lining in the looming cloud. Even with a spiked tumor marker, pending PET scan results, and a to-be-determined treatment plan, RaRa is laughing. But we've seen this attitude surface in the past. Lesson: Never underestimate RaRa's resilience.