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Scanxiety Strikes Again

It's been over six weeks since Dad started chemotherapy treatment, which means it's time for his next CT scan (scheduled for tomorrow). The black abyss of uncertainty has been looming ever nearer over the past few weeks, and we now find ourselves standing at the precipice, afraid to look down into the unknown. So far, all scan results have been a disappointment, and it seems somewhat naive to think that this time could be any different. Amidst all the doubt and uncertainty, however, is a glimmer of hope; the data. Oh beautiful data, so unflinching, so dispassionate. Numbers don't lie, and Dad's numbers are looking brilliant, there's no denying it. Just look at the plots below.

The first plot shows the evolution of GCT (gamma-glutamyl transferase) since just before Dad started immunotherapy treatment. GCT is an enzyme found throughout the body, but is concentrated in the liver. Liver damage can cause GCT to leak into the bloodstream, thus high levels of GCT in the blood can be an indicator of liver disease or damage to the bile ducts. The plot shows a sharp rise in GCT correlating with commencement of immunotherapy, followed by a plateau, then a drop. At its peak, GCT was over ten times the upper limit of the normal range for a healthy person. Not good!

The second plot shows a similar picture with another enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALK). This enzyme is also found throughout the body, and the blood tests measure the level of ALK coming from the liver and bones, thus high levels can be another indicator of damage to liver tissue. The normal range for ALK is 40-120.

The liver enzyme data is showing good results, with both enzymes dropping to much less dangerously high levels, which is hugely reassuring. Whether this can be attributed to chemotherapy or to immunotherapy finally reigning the cancer in, or a combination of the two, is unclear, but if something is working, we'll take it! Whatever the case, we have reason to be optimistic about the next scan results. Dad is hoping that if things keep going the way they are, he may be able to swap out the uninspiring alcohol-free beer for a pint of proper Hazy! Just in time for summer...

We'll post another update once we have the scan results, which should be by the end of the week. We are hugely thankful for all your prayers, thoughts, and words of kindness and support!



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