Nearly five months after her lung cancer diagnosis, 39-year-old Molly Golbon is used to getting poked, prodded and scanned. But waiting for the results doesn't get any easier. As difficult as it is, she takes it all in stride, when coming in for her latest CT scan to see if the cancer in her lungs has shrunk, stayed the same, or grown.
NBC Bay Area first met Molly back in April as she shared her story of living with with lung cancer.
Her treatment is far from over, and the mother of two young daughters agreed to let NBC Bay Area follow her through her successes and struggles. It's Molly's goal to change the stigma associated with lung cancer patients.
Similar to about 20 percent of lung cancer patients, Molly is not a smoker. She tested positive for a gene mutation called EGFR, which doctors say is a driving force behind her lung cancer. This gene mutation means Molly does not get treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, at least not yet. Instead, she takes one pill a day, called Tarceva. So far it's working.
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After getting an IV, Molly walked into the CT Scan room. The technician gave her a few instructions and after just a few minutes, the scan was complete. Now, she and her husband, Arash Golbon, had to wait a couple of hours before meeting with Molly's oncologist, Dr. Heather Wakelee.
Dr. Wakelee is a nationally renowned thoracic oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center and can immediately put her patients at ease with a smile and easy to understand language. She first pulled up Molly's original scans on a computer, and then pulled up the latest one.
"So you can see that mass is much smaller than it had been, so it's not completely gone, but it's much smaller in size," Dr. Wakelee told Molly and her husband.
That's the news they were waiting to hear, and you could see the obvious joy in both their faces when they got the results.
Even more important, according to Dr. Wakelee, was seeing smaller cancer cells shrinking.
"Some of those hazy changes around it are also smaller. You're not seeing those tiny nodules around it and that is actually what you were feeling more with the breathing and cough, not the main mass, so that's substantially better."
As good as all this is, there are still side effects from taking Tarceva, namely a rash that covers much of Molly's body.
"I'm feeling the side effect of Tarceva," Molly said. "I feel like I shouldn't complain."
Part of Dr. Wakelee's job of managing Molly's lung cancer is managing the treatment. At this appointment, Dr. Wakelee talked to Molly about lowering the dosage of Tarceva from 150 mg to 100 mg.
"I don't know if will make all the symptoms go away, but it will help the rash for sure," Dr. Wakelee said.
Changing the dosage is a difficult decision for Molly and her husband because they know the cancer cells can figure out a way to bypass the Tarceva, but ultimately they agree to try the lower dosage.
NBC Bay Area will continue to check in with Molly in the coming weeks and months to see how she responds to the ongoing treatment.
You can follow her journey here on nbcbayarea.com.