Phase 2 starts Friday

Already we are moving toward phase 2-the Chemo. treatments.  It has been just short of two weeks now since the surgery.  I am actually doing pretty well.  My appetite has come back and I am actually sleeping more at night.  Physically I still do have some pain, but it is becoming minimal and manageable.  I doubt my bowels will ever be the same.  So far on this great weight loss program I have lost another 5 lbs.  That means I am 18 lb.s lighter than I was on March 1st.

Yesterday my Dad and I met with the Oncologist, Dr. Duane.  He started off our session by reviewing the pathology reports from the colon surgery.  Here are the findings of note:

  • the tumor was 3.1cm long, 2.2 cm wide and 1.3 cm high
  • the “T” score (for you cancer buffs) was 3
  • the tumor is a “Low-Grade” tumor, meaning its is slow growing, not aggressive (although it had a 10 year head start on us before we knew it existed).
  • he removed 28.5 cm of colon
  • he removed 18 lymph nodes
  • the cancer had already penetrated 8 of the 18 lymph nodes
  • no other lesions were found in the colon
  • “There was…an obvious metastatic implant on the left lateral segment of the liver.  This measured 1.5 cm in size.   The dome of the right lobe and the remaining liver that we could see showed no evidence of any metastatic implants.  Again, the peritoneal surfaces and omentum showed no evidence of any metastatic implants.”  (to summarize:  he only found one obvious malignant tumor on the liver-in my CT there showed 12.  It could mean the other spots were just that small, or that he couldn’t see him from his vantage point-his incision is below my belly button, the liver is up closer to your sternum).

All in all I was impressed that I got to read the surgeons notes and take them home with me.  Also, it seems that when you get through all the data there is some bits and pieces of good news within it.  As Dr. Duane said, “we will put some of those in the good column for us”.  Dr. Duane doesn’t seem to get too high or too low-probably a skill needed when dealing with us cancer patients.

Phase 2:

Step 1   I will have a small semi-permanent port placed into my chest this Friday (again at Methodist).  This port is similar to IV tubing in which one end enters my chest under the skin and the other end minimally sticks out of my chest.  Basically I will have a small tube sticking out of my upper chest that is not easily seen when a shirt is worn over it.  This is an outpatient surgery that takes about 5 hours but is mainly filled with blood work, pre-op, post-up and recovery time.  Mr. Banick gets Baty Baby sitting duty for the day.

Step 2   The Chemo treatments start next Wed. the 20th( again at Methodist-I am getting to know this place all to well).   The treatments are every 14 days.  The treatments last 5 hours in the hospital and then I go home with a mini-pack of chemo attached to me for an additional 48 hours.  After my mini-pack shuts off I return to the hospital again where they disconnect the chemo and clean and prep the lines in my chest for the next treatment.

Step 3    After the 4th treatment I will have another CT scan again to find out if these drugs made an impact.  The goal is to chemo. all the spots on the liver away.  The plan is then to keep doing this same type of treatments and evaluations until they either decide it is working great or having little impact.

Step 4    Liver Resection or Ablation.  If the spots are reduced to say one or two that can be easily removed, I will have liver surgery to cut the tumors off.  If they can’t get that number down to a point where they can do surgery, they then will stick needles into the tumors and microwave them away.  Long story short, it sounds like I will get to sample the food and hospitality of Abbot Northwestern some time in the future.

If I had to take a guess this whole thing will take a minimum of 6 months or maybe closer to a year.  There could obviously be delays or set backs depending on how I react to the drugs.  Chemo. kills both good an bad cells in your body, so you are not as able to fight off colds, flu and viruses.  Did I mention Brenden enters Kindergarten this year?  One other note interesting note from yesterday.  I asked the Dr. if there was anything nutritionally I should do to support myself through the Chemo. treatments.  He said my job was to just rest and tolerate the treatments to the best of my ability.  When my Dad pressed further and asked if there is supplements or vitamins I should be taking, he said not to worry I would get all I need through the foods I did eat.  We found that very strange.  If anyone has another opinion or knowledge to the contrary, please let me know.

Thanks for all your love, support and prayers!


P.S.  I was asked if people could link my blog to theirs-feel free.  If anyone can use this for education, inspiration or just a good laugh-feel free to link me.



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7 responses to “Phase 2 starts Friday

  1. Julia

    Hi Chris, Strat’s teammate here.
    I was with my Mom thru her breast cancer rx/chemo/radiation and there were some foods that even the smell she couldnt handle. She said it was like being pregnant. ( Ok i know dont know what that is like:)…but some foods were really good for her and so she just ate ALOT of those. She also loved to raid the food that they had on hand for her while she had her chemo!
    So point being you will find what works for you, and what offends you. Keep up the positive thinking…
    We are pulling for you and your family.

  2. SuzyWelch

    Wow! Quite the information. How did you remember all this? I am truly inspired by your courage and attitude. I have so many friends and family that are praying for you. May God give you the strength to get through the Chemo. We will continue to pray for you and your family.


  3. Steve Lish

    Chris, thanks for all the information. There seems to be quite a bit of good news in there! I never thought a cancer blog could be so interesting.

  4. Aunt Val & Uncle Eli

    Hi Chris and Family,

    Thanks for the update! Good luck on Friday, Eli still has his port in, but sounds like his is a little different. He does not have a tube sticking out of his chest. Says it works great for blood work and chemo. About the nutrition, he never took any vitamins or food supplements, just ate as he has always eaten. Be sure to get lots of rest, it helps the chemo work and your body heal. I admire you! You are staying on top of everything and learning as much as you can.
    You are in our thoughts and prayers!!
    Keep up the good sense of humor!!
    God Loves You and so do we.

  5. Theresa Connelly

    You are TRULY an inspiration Chris — a wonderful and generous person, a strong and courageous fighter, and a very informative and humorous writer as well! Your positive attitude, combined with all the massive love and support surrounding you, will pull you through this with flying colors. I’m so glad you’re home with family and getting the rest and relaxation you need right now. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family daily and I pray this next phase of treatment goes smoothly for you Chris. We all miss your smiley face and positive energy around the office.
    Stay strong, Theresa

  6. Hey Chris, I’m so glad you’re back home with your family! I know this may be a bit of a stretch, but out dog, Attley, had bone cancer and the animal nutritionist we saw afterwards said that cancer thrives on sugar. So we were advised to really cut down on simple carbs (like corn fillers in dog food) that convert to sugar easily (and obviously sugar itself). I’m not sure if this translates to humans or not but I would guess it would. That’s all I have. But I would say, whatever sounds good during chemo is what you should have!!! We’re praying for you daily – sounds like it’s working!

  7. Angie Vasquez

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a friend of Pete and Sarah’s, and they’ve been keeping me updated on your progress. I just thought I’d share my opinion about vitamin and mineral supplements. I generally agree with your doctor in that you can get most if not all vitamins and minerals from food. The supplement industry isn’t well regulated, and in the case of vitamins and minerals, more isn’t always better. Most vitamins and minerals are better absorbed from foods (there are a couple exceptions to this). With that said, disease can cause a need for higher nutrient concentrations, and there is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that high concentrations of certain vitamins and minerals can be helpful with cancer. The scientific evidence isn’t generally very conclusive though. So in other words, there’s no simple answer to your question; there are numerous different opinions. It’s next to impossible to consume a toxic level of vitamins from food alone, so my suggestion would be to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates. Current USDA daily recommendations for men are 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, so I would recommend at least that much, but more if you can tolerate it. I would agree with the previous poster about sugar. In general, sugar, alcohol, saturated and trans fats are hard on one’s body. If you do take supplements, a multi-vitamin, B-complex, Vit C and/or zinc are all things that might be good. They are water soluble, so you’d have to take a lot for them to be toxic. Zinc competes with copper though, so you don’t want to over do that one. Make sure not to take too much of A, D, E or K because they’re fat soluble and therefore toxic at high levels. With that said, vitamin D has been suggested to help with cancer prevention (not sure if it’s been studied as a treatment) and is a common deficiency, particularly if you don’t get a lot of sunshine or fortified milk. In my opinion, physicians vary a lot with regard to their knowledge about nutrition as it relates to disease. I think they only get a few weeks of education on this in med school?? Talking to a dietician or a physician who specializes in this might be beneficial. Either way, I would keep your physician in the loop about any supplements or vitamins you’re taking to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with the efficacy of the chemotherapy. It sounds like you have an incredible attitude and a great support network. I hope the procedure today goes well. Take care.

    Angie Vasquez

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