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.
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.