Today's update isn't what I hoped it was going to be. I was fully expecting to hear some wonderful news this week that the second round of treatments had "done the trick" and I would get a clean bill of health and then just go into a monitoring program over the long run. Well there are some new bumps in my road to recovery.
This week Annette and I made two trips up to Duke. On Monday we went for a series of screenings, a CT/PET scan and also an endoscopy. The results would be delivered to us yesterday by our doctors. We met with the medical oncologist first and, unfortunately, the news wasn't what we had hoped for. I have new tumors forming in several locations. I have one large tumor located very near where the original tumor was found in the lower esophagus, some additional spots in my upper stomach, and finally, 4 small spots on the liver. Some other smaller tumors were found but when biopsied were found to be benign. The disturbing aspect of all this is that these are all new and have grown just in the past 3 months since my last screenings.
When I asked my doctor how this happened as I previously understood these were slow gr0wing type tumors she said "that's cancer, it is unpredictable, ever changing and can go from slow growing to agressive without warning." She was surprised by it all. The two rounds of treatments I went through early were effective from a "reactive" standpoint and addressed what I had. However, the earlier chemos apparently weren't "pro-active" in preventing new growth.
As a result, and since I can no longer have any more radiation treatments in this area, or surgery, my only option now is more chemo. She immediately ordered two new, very powerful, chemo drugs to be done via infusion (IV) mode once a week for two weeks then a week off and this goes on for 3 cycles or over the next 9 weeks. I had my first treatment already yesterday afternoon. They take about 4 hours to administer. Side effects can be worse than before: nausea, severe diarehha, possible partial hearing loss, and hair loss (no big deal for me). They started me on a regimen of anti-nauseau, anti-anxiety, and pain pills. So far so good.
While this hit us rather hard yesterday, and we had our weeping moments, by the time we got called for our first round of treatment (about a 3 hour wait) we had digested the situation, considered the options, and got our "game faces back on" to re-enter the fight. I think the mental challege is going to be a little tougher on me this time as the unfortunate reality is that these may be the last bullets I have to fire. If this doesn't work there isn't much more to try except for prayer, prayer and more prayer. This is where you come in as my family and friends. I am pleading with you to keep me in your prayers and extend your postive energy and thoughts my way. I love you all for different reasons and I am asking for your love in return.
Annette is amazing in her support as my non-medical attendant (what the insurance company calls her) and my loving wife. My girls are taking the news hard but also trying hard to be positive in their support. I will keep you posted as things move along. I am doing my best to stay upbeat and positive, but, honestly, it is a little tougher this time around. All I can say is Cancer is a bitch!
Note from Annette: Each of you has heard the old adage about "life handing you a lemon" and the lemonade thing. We have chosen lemonade! It is more meaningful than I can express to have you share our lemonade.