Monday, August 26, 2013

Oncologist Visit

I’m a little slow with this update, but as my Mom used to say:  better late than never.  Yes, I think of my parents a fair bit these days, perhaps because I look forward to joining them someday, and lately that “someday” seems just a little closer.  J

I did have my oncologist meeting on Friday.  The meeting went well, and we learned two important things:  1) I am a surgery candidate (as we’d already suspected, but this was confirmation – and good news :-), assuming a scan after the first three months of chemo still suggest it’s worth it, and 2) my outlook is not as simple (and perhaps not quite as bleak) as my earlier email suggested.  I thought I had heard that I had a 20% chance of making it beyond five years.  However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.  The oncologist reiterated that with no treatment the median life expectancy is one year, and with only chemo it’s two years.  However, with surgery, the more accurate picture is that in 80% of cases the cancer returns within five years.  If/when it does, the clock kinda resets and they may still be able to attack it further with more chemo and/or surgery.  In fact, the doctor said that in “men as young as I am”, they can sometimes cherry-pick the liver for a while.  I’m not sure exactly what “cherry-pick” means in this case, but I assume he meant cut off cancerous stuff as it appears (i.e. multiple surgeries).  It sounds like each round would be decreasingly effective, but still might add a bit of time to the clock.  Oh and yes, he referred to me as young.  J  I’ve generally felt young and healthy for my entire life, but I admit I’ve been feeling significantly older with all this going on (and with how slowly/gingerly I move these days due to my multiple wounds)!  So, generally that was all good news.

Additionally, he was pleased with the way my surgery was healing up, and with the way the port was healing.  The port news wasn’t quite as positive, though.  I guess they won’t be using it for everything as I’d understood.  It is used only for the chemo drugs, not for blood work.  That means that when they draw blood every two weeks, they still poke me.  Those of you that know my problems with needles (both that I don’t enjoy them and that medical people often have trouble finding my veins) will understand that was a bit of a disappointment, but really pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.  It did, however, give me a little pause just because the port has caused me almost as much pain and discomfort as the surgery did!  Well, that’s not accurate since the surgery was a lot more painful initially, but the port pain and discomfort just seems to be sticking around longer than I expected.  I wondered at one point whether the port will be worth it in the end, given the pain and discomfort, but I’m sure it still will be.

One other thing I learned is that the liver surgery is likely to be roughly as invasive as the colon surgery, so that won’t be fun.  Still, I’ll take things as they come, one day at a time.

Anyway, I want to leave you with another passage of scripture, possibly slightly out of context, but still very relevant:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
I really encourage you to take a look at what follows that in chapter 5, but if I started pasting that in here, I’d have trouble knowing where to stop!

Tomorrow (well having looked at the clock, I guess “today”, but after a sleep :-) it’s off to chemo.  That appointment is at 2:15 PM.  They say I should expect to be there 2.5-3 hours, and that I’ll be going home with a bottle attached to my port that they remove two days later.  The big bummer is it will force me to miss one of Brodie’s hockey tryouts, but oh, well, perhaps it will keep me alive to watch even more hockey in the future!


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