Hey everybody. This is my first post on wordpress and first post on any kind of blog. I know, it is 2012 and I am a little behind the eight ball on these sorts of things. Do not ask, I refuse to tweet.
In an effort to keep all of our family and friends ” in the loop” on my life, I thought that this would be the best way to communicate. I am often overwhelmed by emails not related to work. I am pretty sure that I have responded to every single one of the emails though!
First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for all of the positive vibes, prayers, and words of kindness that you have sent me and our family over the past 53 days. I do not know where I would be without each and every one of you!
A lot of you have been inquiring about my diagnosis and treatment process…so here you go:
Around the middle of March, I visited my primary care doctor with minor symptoms of shortness of breath and some difficulty swallowing certain foods. He suggested that I had Acid Reflux and to take the prescribed Nexium for two weeks. After taking the prescribed meds I did not see any improvement in my symptoms. My primary care doctor then referred me to a Gastroenterologist soon thereafter. On Thursday, April 12th, I had my initial visit with said specialist and his reaction was that I was having an allergic reaction to something in my environment (allergies)or that I had severe acid reflux. He ordered a routine endoscopy for me the next day to see exactly what was going on in my esophagus. On Friday the 13th (yes, not kidding), I had Parker take me in for the procedure that would forever change my life. I must admit I was a little bit nervous going into the procedure because I had never had anesthesia before. Growing up as competitive twin boy, and between contact sports and motorcycles, I had stitches multiple times but never have had the need for anesthesia. Either way, the procedure was simple and only lasted about 15 minutes. When I awoke from the anesthesia I found myself in the patient recovery room laying in a bed and immediately started cracking jokes with Parker. We were talking for about five minutes before the doctor came in to tell me what was seen through the endoscope. I am not sure if I was still somewhat sedated or if the words were actually that hard to comprehend when they came out of his mouth. He stated that I had a large mass at the base of my esophagus and at the top of my stomach. My initial reaction was that I said something along the lines of ” ok, well what antibiotic can you give me. Its not a big deal”. The doctor then let me know that the mass was “highly suspicious and looked to be that of cancer”. Wow, now that changed my attitude pretty quickly. At this point, I was in shock and I did know what to think. Obviously, I was upset and just wanted the confirmation that it was not cancer via the biopsy they took during the endoscopy. Unfortunately, I had to wait until Monday (4/16) to get the results!
Insert long weekend of anxiety…
On Monday @ 1:16pm the gastro specialist called and said that the biopsy results came back positive when tested for Adenocarcinoma (cancer).
I went to Emory on Wednesday 4/18/12 for my diagnosis and first consultation with an oncologist who specializes in gastric cancer and a surgical oncologist. They suggested that I start chemotherapy treatments ASAP and also confirmed that my primary tumor was located at the base of my esophagus/top of my stomach. I had a few lesions on my liver but they are not concerned with it at the moment. Reason being, they can perform radiation or remove a large amount of the liver via somewhat routine surgery. Prior to chemo treatments, I had to have a port installed which occurred on Friday 4/20/12…for those of you who dont know what a port is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_(medical)
Treatment plan: Per my surgical and regular oncologist, the game plan is to reduce or eradicate the large primary tumor through chemo therapy treatments. As of now, the doctors do not have a long term idea of when this will happen. Chemo therapy treatments affect different people in different ways. Since I am younger and am in good physical shape, the chemo should be more effective. As I have learned quickly, I really do not focus on the 4-6 months or any long time frame…all I can focus on is ONE DAY AT A TIME! Now having said that, I do have personal goals that I will achieve. The typical treatment day consists of me arriving at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute at around 8:30am for my blood work. From there I see my oncologist to discuss my blood work and or any of the chemo side effects (there are plenty but I will tackle that another day). Then finally, I start my least favorite kind of cocktail: the chemo cocktail. The chemo cocktail is a combination of the different chemo therapy medicines that will be injected into my bloodstream via my portacath. This libation is served around 11am and usually lasts about five to six hours. During this time, I usually pester Parker or Shelly and do things to make the time pass.
After I am done with my infusions while at Emory I have another chemo medication (5-FU) that I get to take home with me. How is that possible? Rewind to 1984…does a fanny pack come to mind!? The 5-FU needs to be injected at a slow rate over a prolonged period of time. So with the meds and a small pump in my sweet fanny pack, I get to look like a … for the next 46 hrs. All joking aside, that chemo is going to save my life! So if I need to wear one every single day, bring it on.
First treatment completed: 4/26/12
Second treatment completed: 5/10/12
Third treatment completed: 5/24/12
Fourth Treatment scheduled 6/8/12
Reassessment/Cat Scan to evaluate tumor: 6/14/12
**Results from 6/14/12 scan likely to be discussed the morning of my next treatment on 6/21/12
Ok, that is enough for my first post. I actually need to get some work done! Once again, I cannot thank you all enough for the support and love that you have shown our family! We could not be any more fortunate to have such special people in our lives.
Until next time…