If you are reading this for the first time and want to hear the whole story, look under "BLOG ARCHIVE" on the right. Read the oldest blog first, starting with "The Diagnosis" in January 2009 (click on it) and continuing down. The blog you see below is the most recent and you want to read it last.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I've Made A Lot Of Pancakes

Most of the blog and list server posts related to esophageal cancer that I read are written by someone other than the patient. It’s usually a spouse. Mine is one of the very few I’m familiar with that is written by the patient. So I think it’s important to occasionally offer some insight of what goes on inside the head of someone in this situation. It’s not always pretty. But remember, this is a blog about cancer so sometimes it’s not pretty. And you can skip this post if you want. Back in March I wrote down my final wishes. I didn’t post them at the time because I though it might be too morbid. But I think about death often and when I do I fear I might die without anyone being aware of what I would want. So I’m posting my final wishes now. Don’t be concerned. As far as I know my death is not imminent. But it’s coming sooner or later, by cancer or something else and when it does I may not have a chance to let them be known. There is a link to them under “Things Of Importance To Me” to the right. You don’t have to read them now. Just know they are there when the time comes. Not too long ago I received an email from Marny whose husband Dale died of esophageal cancer. Marny continues to offer help and advise to people fighting this battle. She provides support, insight and wisdom to many people. Marny’s email told the story of a young boy who got up early one morning to make breakfast for his parents. He was very young and really didn’t know what he was doing but his heart was in the right place and he wanted to do this for them. He took out some pancake mix and because he couldn’t quite reach the counter top he spilled the flour-like substance on the floor as he tried to poor it into the bowl. He poured some milk into the bowl, but it was far too much. When he put the hand held blender in it and turned it on high power the liquidy batter splattered all over the walls. Somewhere along the way he dropped an egg on the floor and stepped in it. This created sticky pancake mix footprints all over the floor. At this point the boy’s father came down the stairs and into the kitchen. Upon seeing the mess he picked up his son, told him what a good job he had done, and gave him a great big hug. Despite the fact that his son had completely failed and made a mess of everything, the father knew that his intentions were good and he had tried. I’ve made a lot of pancakes in my life. As I look back on my life, which I do often, I see a lot of mistakes. And although I know that my intentions were always good, no one else seemed to know that. Nobody told me “good job”. I’m hoping that when my time comes I’ll meet up with my heavenly father, or maybe even my mortal father, and they’ll tell me I did OK. ____________________________________

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prayers Are Needed

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I wrote about John and Tracy Hawker. They really need your prayers right now. John is having a hard time getting through a very difficult period with his disease. There is a link to Tracy's blog in my October 28th post. Please pray for them. Thank you. -------------------------------------

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lots To Report

On Monday I went in for my 23rd chemo treatment. I discussed the hernia with Dr. George. She said she would rather avoid surgery because it would interfere with treatments because it is not a good idea to have chemo with an open wound. She suggested a hernia truss or belt which is similar to a girdle. But remember, she is the Chemo Kaiser and loves to keep pumping that stuff into me. The following day I researched the belts and saw that WebMD (my primary physician) recommends against using them. So I think what I’ll do is wait for a while. I think I will need some time off from chemo soon anyway because of worsening neuropathy and I’ll try to coordinate that time off with surgery. Something to look forward to. Dr. George also told me that she wanted to add Herceptin to my treatment. You may recall that Herceptin is a drug (actually an antibody) that has been successful in treating breast cancer in patients whose tumors test positive for an over expression of the HER2 gene. Lately they have been finding it useful in treating gastrointestinal cancers when there is an over expression of the HER2 gene. I tested positive for the over expression back in June. Before using Herceptin Dr. George wanted me to have a MUGA test so she got it scheduled for Tuesday. Now I must say that I was somewhat disappointed when I got to the hospital. I was expecting a MUGA test to be a test in which I sit in front of a camera and make funny faces. But it turned out to be another nuclear injection test that measures heart output. On Wednesday Dr. George had the test results. My heart was OK so I received the first dose of Herceptin. Interesting that within 48 hours the MUGA test was approved by my insurance company, scheduled by the hospital and results sent back to the doctor. I then received a fairly new type of treatment. I think that speaks well of our health care system and makes me worry about what might happen when they start tinkering with it. And I should point out that my health insurance is far from a “Cadillac” plan. It’s more like the mini-van I drive. So now I’m walking around with a large dose of a breast cancer drug in me. I keep putting my hands to my chest. I’m afraid I may soon need a bra. Oh well. It’ll go good with the girdle. The blood test taken Monday showed that my liver function still seems to be within normal ranges although it looks like the numbers are starting to creep up. Maybe the Herceptin will help. Today I went to a special Mass at our church. It was a Mass for sick people. As I’ve said before I don’t feel it’s appropriate to pray for myself so I offered the Mass up for all of the EC patients whose stories I follow. However I really got a lot from it for myself as well. Although I have faith, I’m really not a very religious person. But the ceremony was incredible. There were 4 priests assisted by 4 deacons. Mid-way through the Mass a priest and a deacon went to each participant and prayed over him/her. Then a priest and a deacon went to each participant individually again and administered the anointing of the sick. I could literally feel God’s blessing as I received it. It was very powerful and I felt better the rest of the day. The timing of this treatment worked out well. Thanksgiving will fall in the final week of the cycle so it will be the best time for eating. Carry on. ----------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Thought I Was Exempt

Don’t you think that cancer patients should be exempt from ordinary day to day medical problems? I don’t want to travel down the self pity path but we do put up with more than average inconveniences and difficulties as it is. Shouldn’t we be spared some of the little things? I thought that’s how it worked. Apparently not. I think I have a hernia, self diagnosed of course. I’ve had it for about two months and have been trying to live with it but it seems to be popping out more and more. When it does I feel a kind of cramping nausea. I can feel a bulge in my groin. The nausea makes me think my small intestine is being partially strangled when it pops out (more self-diagnosis). When it happens I have to lie down for an hour or so until it pops back in. Today I started to pick up leaves but after a short time the hernia made itself known and I had to stop. It made me realize that I have to do something about it or my activities will be limited even more than what the chemo does to me. So after I get through next week’s treatment I’ll go see a doctor and probably end up in surgery for a repair. Maybe I’ll be exempt from something else. Carry on. ____________________________________________

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh Well

I heard back from the assistant to the radiologist who was making the determination of whether or not I am a candidate for SIR spheres. It appears I am not at this time. Although the radiologist wants to talk to Dr. George, my oncologist, he feels that since the chemo is working for now there’s no reason to try something else. SIR spheres are more of a “last resort” procedure. But he will discuss it with Dr. George before making a final decision. Of course we know what the Chemo Kaiser will say. But Dr. George has served me very well and I trust her judgment. Donna, the radiologist’s assistant, also told me that the CT scan showed fluid in my lungs and fluid in my abdomen. There is a possibility the fluid is malignant. If we were going to proceed with the SIR spheres the fluid would have to be drained and tested first. My last blood test showed that my CEA level, a tumor marker, had increased slightly. So between that and the fluid I’m concerned. We’ll see. --------------------------------------------------------------------