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Getting Back on the Horse

November 13th, 2012 Comments off

In life we all have times when certain life events can through us off the back of the proverbial “horse”. It can be embarrassing to be tossed from the horse because as humans we always want to portray that we are in control no matter what life throws at us. The truth is life has a way of unseating us seeming at will. It is not a matter of whether you will every get bucked from life, but when.

In the book of Proverbs there is a verse that says:

For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16

In my own life I have fallen several times, sometimes by my own hand, but other times through no fault of my own. Either way, the majority of times I get back on the horse quickly and try not to get into the same situation again.

How did I fall?

This time around my “fall” as I would put it was my cancer diagnosis. As far as the doctors tell me I did not cause this to happen to me but I have been doing everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The good news is that I have been cancer free for 2 1/2 years now. Praise God! The not as good news is that I am not fully recovered from the extensive treatment that I went through to help me to be cancer free. 3 years later, I am still dealing with side effects of treatment and am only about at 60% of my old self that I was before I got sick.

While that would seem like the “fall” that is the major thing in my life, for me, there is another fall that I am still struggling with. This fall is the testimony that I have been given. For the 1-1 1/2 years of my battle I was avidly blogging about my experience. People would come to my site for encouragement and I would also be encouraged by them.

Along the way the road got hard. I was no longer battling cancer, I was battling recovery. I thought I was going to have some treatment, recover for a couple of months, and then go back to work. Now, I have no set time on when that will happen. I am still believing that I will return to a “normal life” someday but I don’t know when that will be.

This is where my true fall has taken place. for the past year I have not shared about what God has been doing in my life. I have stopped talking to people. I have stopped sharing and being a part of my local church. I died socially. Part of that was because I didn’t have an answer anymore. When I spoke with folks I didn’t have an update as to my status. “Have you gone back to work?” someone would ask, I would reply “no, not yet”. “Are you going back?” they would continue, “the doctor says someday, but they don’t know when”. “Oh” they would reply and the conversation was over. It was awkward and it got old. After 6 months of the say Q & A session I just didn’t want to play anymore so I withdrew.

What do I do now?

This has been the question on my mind for the last year. What do I do now. I am not laid up in the hospital but I am not well enough to return to work either. What do I do? I tried helping out at church but it was too much for me physically and I fizzled out after a couple of months. I graduated from physical therapy which was great but quit the YMCA after 1 week because it was too much for me. The question slowly changed from “what do I do now” to “what CAN I do now?”. That’s the scary question.

This has been the question that I have ben hiding from all this time. I haven’t wanted to talk about it and I have done a pretty good job of eliminating everyone around me that would ask anything close to that. I stopped pushing and challenging myself. I had been knocked off the horse and decided that the ground was a good spot to say. After all, I couldn’t ride the horse – right?

Where I’ve been and where I’m going

So that is where I have been, for a while now. While I didn’t die from cancer, I gave up on life. I gave up on it because I didn’t want to think about being limited in this life. I didn’t want to talk about it and honestly I really still do not want to.

The reason that I am writing this though is that I have to talk about it. I cannot stay where I am. It is not fair to all of those who helped me to make it through cancer only to check out on life because it got hard. I know life is hard without cancer and all those things. To be honest though, life is harder when you are trying to be a husband, father, son, grandson, friend, business man, and all the rest and you are recovering from cancer.

See, I did not know about this recovery thing. I guess the doctors really didn’t talk about it because they weren’t sure that I was going to make it to this point. Well I did. Now I have to fight hard like I did when I was battling for my physical life, only this is more mental, and spiritual.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 23:7

and

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

I believe that these truths have not been as much of a focus in my mind as they were when I was battling cancer. After I got victory over it I relaxed but that was not the time to do that, the next battle was just around the corner (it always it).

So what changed?

What changed for me was the death of my grandfather who was 101 years old. I spent time with my father celebrating his life and saw what God was doing in their lives – He was blessing them. I realized that the same blessing that they were experiencing was also waiting for me.

I don’t want to have been saved from cancer only to die spiritually. God turned the thing that satan intended for evil into a glorious testimony. God used faith, prayers, doctors, medicine, surgeries, and a whole host of other things to heal me so i could be here today.

Yes, life is different and harder then I thought it was going to be. This has taken me by surprise but it did not surprise God. He knew that there would be this chapter in my life and His plan is to bring me through this to the next chapter. Everything that I need is available through him. He did not bring me this far to leave me here.

I also know that he has given me a story to tell so that it can give other people hope. Yes, God can heal you from cancer. Yes, God can provide for you even if you haven’t worked for 3 years. Yes, you can fully recover from extensive cancer treatment (this is the one I am working on).

It is my job to tell the story of where God brought me from and also where He is taking me. I cannot shy away from it, that is a disservice to Him and everyone else that put their faith out there for me too. It may be hard to put myself out there and not everyone may receive my message, but that is alright. As long as I know that I am doing what God wants me to I will be alright.

So what happens now?

My intention is to finish the book that I started on this website. I had more then one of my family members tell me that I should write a book about my experience. Yes, I should. I also want to write here more. This site helps me to be accountable to the message that God has placed in side of me. I cannot say when and how often that will happen but I will make a concentrated effort to post here more.

So if you have made it this far congratulations and hopefully you have been inspired by my writing. I am not a perfect person but I do love God and am thankful for what He has done in my life. I believe that I can truly demonstrate my thankfulness by letting others know of the hope that I found in Him and His Son. I hope that is what you see when you read what I have written here.

Until next time…

Latest Test = 2 1/2 Years Being Free From Cancer

October 27th, 2012 Comments off

I got the results from my latest CT scan and I am still cancer free. The doctor also remarked at full my face looked compared to when he had seen me 6 months ago. I have now been pushed to a 9 month test cycle as opposed to the 6 month cycle I had ben on.If looking up all the dates and everything it has now been 2 1/2 years since any know cancer was in my body. My oncologist was quick to add that at 5 years I would be considered “Cured” from cancer. A tear comes to my eye as I write that since their were some many points along the way that I didn’t think I was going to make it at all.

Cancer can be beat.

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

What Am I Up To These Days?

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Boy, that’s an interesting question. I am kind of trying to figure that out.

I am no longer going through treatment for cancer and am now in recovery mode. In all honesty it wasn’t the actual cancer treatment that got to me, it was the “persistent stricture” as a result of surgery that almost did me in. I have since got that fixed but it left my plumbing (digestive system) a little difficult to deal with.

Due to the extensive treatment that I went through and the side effects of treatment I am currently disabled. This has mostly to do with my energy level, pain, and other ailments that saving my life caused. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I would much rather deal with the things that slow me down now as opposed what possibly could have happened. But on the flip side, what I went through was a big deal, and my body bears the scares to prove it. 

How I Spend My Days

meMy days are mostly spent doing some form of physical activity, going to the doctor, and tinkering around the house. Only recently have I started cleaning the dust off of my websites and started messing with them. I still have a fair amount of doctors appointments so they keep me pretty busy as well.

My biggest challenge right now is my energy. I probably have the energy of someone twice my age (which is not a good thing). I get tired really easy and am trying to learn what my limits are so I don’t over do it. I haven’t ventured into the garage too much yet due to the heat. The heat outside kicks my butt right now.

Exercise. Diet. Yeah…

I just finished up physical therapy and am starting an after-cancer exercise program that is sponsored by LIVESTRONG at the YMCA (Village People cue…). I don’t like exercise anymore then the next guy but I need it, without it I probably wouldn’t make it out of my bedroom each day.

starbucks-frappuccinoI am also beginning to work with a nutritionist. I have Celiac disease and no stomach so it can be a little tricky finding foods that I can eat. I am not a big fan of smoothies but I do love Starbucks Frappuccinos. I can get 460 calories out of a medium one of those babies. Yes, I am a calorie counter but in the opposite way. I count calories in order to get as many of them as I can out of every meal or snack. Now before you wish to be me I will inform you that gaining weight is as difficult, if not more, then losing weight. It’s hard to gain the weight and to keep it on (yes, I live in opposite world).

My God, Why Are You Writing All Of This?

If you have made it this far you may be asking yourself this question. The reason is that there are a lot of people that go through similar situations and they want to see if anyone ever makes it through. I just received a comment on one of my other websites earlier today from a person that is facing terminal cancer. The said that my posts were helpful and thanked me for writing them. I didn’t really write for that reason but am glad that something I love to do can be helpful to someone else.

I am also writing this because I need to see where I am and where I have been.

I often will go back through my old posts and read about the things that I was going through at that time. It was also a good way to keep friends and family up-to-date with how I was doing without having to make a million phone calls.

What Are You Going To Do From Now On?

I have no idea. It really just depends on what I am physically capable of doing. It also depends on what I can handle mentally too. When your body is screaming out in pain your mind is a difficult thing to focus. I am trying to spend some time updating my websites with new designs and content. Other then that I am non-committal on anything else for the time being. I will continue to exercise my mind and body as much as possible and look to the future to see what it holds.

Now watch this video of a cute kitten:

Categories: From the Network, Health, Web Site News Tags:

I Didn’t Die, I’m Still Around

April 11th, 2012 Comments off

It is interesting on how quick time can go by.

I knew that I had not posted to this site in some time but I did not realize that it had been 1 1/2 years. Whew! I realize that with the length of time it has been since I posted and the subject matter I had been writing on that one could easily assume that I did not make it past November 2010. The truth is that I am still here and kicking.

Where Have I Been?

In treatment. Fortunately not cancer treatment – I am going on 2 years since the known cancer in my body was removed. Unfortunately since that time I have had several serious ailments that been as bad if not worse then the cancer. I am not going into details here but if you are interested you can check out my personal site on my health issues -

Dan Masters health

In the last 2 years I wish I could say that I have been full of faith and have continually had the devil under my feet. I do have victory over the devil (I am still here) but it really has been a battle, the hardest of my life. I all that time I don’t feel that I ever turned my back on God but I definitely have not been “active”. Active to me means daily interaction with regular church attendance. I have not had that.

What God Has Done

What I have had is a God who has been my father and has remained faithful no matter what my prospective of my righteousness is in my eyes. He is faithful, He is loving, He is kind, and I have no doubt of His ability to give me strength when I am weak and feel like I cannot go any further.

I am so humbled by what He has done for me that I feel like I could never pay Him back. I didn’t deserve to survive. But I did through His power. I am still weak and do not know what my life will be like now. Irregardless I have something on the inside of me that wants to do whatever I can in order to let people know God as I know Him. He is not just the savior of my soul but of my body and spirit as well.

He is real and he saved me in so many ways. 

He can do the same for you too.

 

Categories: From the Network, Health Tags:

Hopefully the First and Last Health Update of 2012

January 2nd, 2012 Comments off

As mentioned in my last post I was to have a Supercharged Jejunum Esophagectomy in November. I did have the surgery and it went just fine. I was in the the hospital for about 2 weeks afterward and it has been about 5 weeks since I was released from the hospital. I’ve been back to the doctor for follow ups and according to them I am recovering just fine.

As a part of my overall health management I had my regularly scheduled CT scan last week and it came back clean – no cancer to be seen. As you can imagine this is welcome news. Officially I have now been cancer free for 1 year since it has been that long since my last treatment. I will have another scan in 3-6 months as apart of my overall follow up plan. It is sure nice to be cancer free :-) .

The New Year

I think the nicest thing about going into the new year is that I do not have any procedures scheduled. I don’t have any tests scheduled. I don’t have anything wrong with me that leaves that little bit of uncertainty in the back of your mind. It is nice to be in this place after 2 1/2 years.

I do have my ailments and am on medications to help with those. But if I am given the opportunity to recover and heal like I need to then those should dissipate as time goes on. From here on out the posts about my health should be few and far in between.

Thank you to everyone that supported me during this time. All of your prayers and positive thoughts really helped me make it through. I look forward to returning to as much of a normal life that is possible.

Sunrise photo courtesy of Hassan9 via deviantart.com

 

Categories: From the Network, Health Tags:

Health Update – The Short and the Long of It

November 9th, 2011 Comments off

The Short

I am having esophageal reconstruction surgery on November 16, 2011.

This surgery is similar to the one I had in June of 2010 except that it is going to be in Houston with a different surgeon. The reason that I am having this second surgery is that there were a couple of areas that were brought together during the first surgery that never had the tissue and/or blood vessels connect. This is what has been causing the scar tissue to grow all this time. With this new surgery I will also have a plastic surgeon who will concentrate on these connections to try and ensure that this does not happen again.

The Long

The journey leading up to this second surgery has been one filled with tens of procedures, tests, and unfortunately emergency hospital stays. The funny thing is that all the procedures that I have endured for the last year+ were to try and save me from having the surgery that I am about to have. Unfortunately all the procedures that I endured ended up becoming more dangerous then the surgery itself, go figure.

This is the tally of procedures, tests, and hospital stays that I have had since my last post in March:

  • Stents: 1
  • Dilations: 3
  • Laser ablations: 10
  • Emergency Room visits: 5
  • Tests (CT, swallow, etc): 5
  • Days in Hospital: 22 days
  • Units of blood transfused: 14-16
  • Ambulance rides to emergency room: 1
  • Helicopter rides to trauma center: 1

On average I was having a procedure, emergency, or test every 2-3 weeks for the last 6-7 months. That’s one reason why I was not posting here on my site. There was just too much going on in such a small time frame that it was impossible to keep up with it here.

The event that stands out most to me during this period was an emergency hospitalization that happened in early September. It included the helicopter ride, 10-12 units of blood, and hospitalization for 7 days in which 2 were in ICU. It was this event that caused my wife and I to reevaluate everything and decide on having surgery. I will spare everyone the details but I believe this is the closest I have ever come to losing my life. I didn’t see the white light or anything but for all intents and purposes most people don’t live through what I went through in early September.

Surgery Details

My wife and I talked with 3 different surgeons before deciding to go with the one in Houston. She is a specialist in the type of surgery that I need and considered one of the best in the country. Her patients and the staff that she works with speak very highly of her. I have already been under her care for a test and a couple days in the hospital and am convicted that she is the best choice for this important event.

If everything goes as it should in the surgery I should be out of the hospital within 2 weeks. I also should not need any follow up procedures and should be able to sleep lying flat again (Yah!). Acid reflux should no longer be and issue either.

I am really looking forward to getting this surgery done, recovering, and getting on with my new life. I am not sure what that entails but I am looking forward to finding out.

I don’t expect to give blow-by-blow updates of the surgery or my recovery afterward but I will update here and there to let folks know how I’m doing. I will probably update more often on Facebook so if we are friends there you’ll be privy to more info. If we are not Facebook friends yet and we do know each other make a request and I’ll approve it. Here is my page – Dan Masters on Facebook

God’s Continued Faithfulness

July 19th, 2011 Comments off

It has been nearly 8 months since I have posted on this site. Like many Christians I was going really well for a while proclaiming God’s greatness and faithfulness but when things got tough I stopped.

I guess that is the what the emnemy wanted.

For some reason I got it in my mind that if I was going through difficult times then I must not be in right standing with God. After taking a step back I realize that is not true. In fact the opposite seems to be reality. If you are truly being effective for God then the enemy is not going to leave you alone.

The bible says:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19 NKJV)

The Last 8 Months

I think I have had more affections in the last 8 months then I did in the previous 8 months. That is saying a lot since I battled cancer twice during that time. For me the last 8 months have been filled with tens of medical procedures, ER visits, and hospital stays. In fact as I write this, I have been in the hospital for 3 days after a very scary medical emergency that landed me in the ER, which resulted me being admitted into the hospital.

I won’t go into details because that is not whist this post is about. This post is about God’s faithfulness.

See, even though I have been through so many things in the last 8 months God has delivered me out of each and every one of them. He has done that regardless of how much time I have spent in prayer or read my bible. His faithfulness to me has been consistent regardless of my inconsistency to Him.

Seeing His faithfulness it makes me so grateful to have Him in my life.

Yes, I have been through a lot of trials and tribulation in the last 8 months. But in the same time I have seen God do amazing and wonderful things. I look forward to what the next 8 months have to bring!

One Year of Being Free of Cancer

June 1st, 2011 Comments off

20110601-115559.jpgYes, that is right, it has been a year since I had the surgery in which they got “all the known” cancer out. They must have been right because as of today I am still cancer free. That’s pretty cool. There were several points along that way where I wasn’t sure that I would make it this far.

Thank you doctors and God!

I am still going through some procedures in order to clean up some of the side effects of the chemotherapy and radiation but those are nothing compared to actually going through chemotherapy/radiation. I will be done with them soon so I will just concentrate on getting my strength and endurance back.

Thank you to everyone that has sent their prayers and positive thoughts my way. They definitely made a difference over this past year!

The “Long Term” Stent Ended Up Being the Shortest of Them All

March 23rd, 2011 Comments off

Yep, I am without a stent once again. It was not planned this way but with what my doctor saw in my semi-emergency EGD yesterday he thought it was the best thing.

What he saw was that the area of irritation that was there 2 weeks ago was more irritated. When he biopsied it 2 weeks ago it was cancer free and he still thinks it is. His reasoning for why it is there and getting bigger is that the stents are rubbing in that area.

How This All Came About

To rewind a little bit, this all came about because I called my GI doc on Monday to tell him that food had been getting stuck, and whether this was normal for the new stent that was placed 2 weeks ago? He said no, this was not normal and got me in for a chest x-ray the same day. He wanted to see if the stent had migrated down into my stomach.

The results of the test were negative. No, the stent looked like it was in the same spot.

I told him that when the food was getting stuck it was different then in times past as it seemed deeper, like it was at the bottom end of the stent. He said we should go take a look and scheduled me the next morning for an EGD.

I had the EGD and he saw that the inflammation was indeed larger and that it was almost a complete blockage at the bottom of the stent. I had called yet another time. He took several larger pieces of the inflammation to biopsy. He still does not think it is cancerous but we need to check none the less.

Side Note – Biopsies themselves aren’t nearly as bad as waiting for the results.

At this point he is consulting his mentor who trained him to see what the best course of action is. We will probably put another stent in soon to buffer until a final decision can be made. Unfortunately my esophagus can only go a week or two before it closes enough to where I cannot eat.

That kind of picks up where we left off.

So What Are My Options?

Unfortunately they are few and not well established.

See the problem is that most people who have had the type of cancer that I’ve had with treatment and surgery that I’ve had, don’t live this long. I’m the exception. So I have all these doctors standing around scratching their heads trying to figure out how to fix this so I can live life.

So here are the options that I know of as of today:

  1. Put in shorter stents every 4-6 weeks (what we have been doing) And still try to figure out a long term solution
  2. Try the new non-invasive surgery that is done like an EGD through my mouth into my throat
  3. Do the big surgery that goes through the ribs where they cut the esophagus and put it back together again

I am not too fond of option #1 and everyone, especially me, do not want to do option 3. Number 2 is a pretty new procedure and there is no guarantee it will work. In fact there is no guarantee with any of these that they will work.

In terms of risk #3 is the worst. It is a major surgery and I have already had it once. I would really have to be talked into this one. #1 isn’t really a solution but I am putting myself at risk every 4-6 weeks which really opens me up to having something bad happen. If that bad thing happens then we are talking an emergency helicopter ride and basically surgery #3. Not good. I am not familiar with #2 enough to know the exact risks but I believe they are similar to the risks of a standard EGD. But that risk would be once as opposed to many times like #1.

Wrap Up

So there it is, the last major medical thing that I am facing is demanding that it be resolved. That in itself is not such a bad thing. Better sooner then later I suppose. I just wish the options were a little more attractive.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes, I would rather be facing this then anything like what I had to face with cancer. Cancer sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

OK. I will stop my whining/rant now knowing that there are a lot of people out there that have it much worse then I do. This is Dan signing off for now. Asta!

5th Stent Out and the 6th “Long Term” Stent is In

March 11th, 2011 Comments off

I had my latest procedure to swap out stents on Tuesday and everything went great. It was the best procedure so far from both the doctor’s and my prospective. I was eating that night and have literally had no pain.

This new stent is slated to be left in for 4-6 months as opposed to the 6 months of the previous stents. I will get a checkup in 6-8 weeks just to make sure everything is looking alright. If everything does look good we will leave it in for a couple of more months. We are still looking into the non-invasive surgery that may eliminate my need for stents. It would be really nice to have that and be done with all of this. Also, I got the results back from my biopsies and everything looks good which is just more good news.

I am really thankful that everything went so smooth this time around.

Clean Tests, But A Lot of Pain

February 1st, 2011 Comments off

As mentioned before I had my stent in my esophagus replaced last Wednesday. Aa a part of every EGD to replace the stent my GI doctor does biopsies to make sure the cancer has not come back. He also checks my small intestine to see how the villi are doing from me having celiac disease.

In both cases everything looks good – no sign of cancer and my villi have all grown back so their is no sign of celiac disease. That does not mean I can now eat gluten but does mean that my body has healed itself and is absorbing nutrients like it is supposed to now.  This is good because it means that I get more out of the food that I eat then ever before.

Throat Pain

Unfortunately with all that good news I am not feeling all that great. When my GI doc removed the old stent I bled – a lot. Then, when placing the new stent he put it in a little different position (on purpose) and therefore my throat is not used to having something there and so it hurts.

I was OK in the hospital when they had me on morphine for two days but for the last 3 days I have been on vicodin and it is not cutting it. I went to a pain management appointment yesterday morning and they gave me something different that is supposed to be in between vicodin and morphine and should last longer. I took it last night and it does help without making me feel out of it like the morphine and the vicodin do.

I was a little concerned with the amount of pain I have been in the last few days but my wife reminded me that when my first stent was put in that it was a very similar experience. Funny, that was less then 6 months ago but I had forgotten. If this time is similar then it may be a few weeks before all of the pain goes away. I made it through the first time though and will make it through this time as well.

Thanks

Thanks again to everyone for their prayers and good wishes. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

4th Stent Out, 5th Stent In

January 28th, 2011 Comments off

I am out of the hospital after having my 4th stent taken out and my 5th stent placed in my throat. The hospital stay was not planned on but I was not feeling that great after the procedure so I decided to play it safe and stay for pain management and observation. I think both my throat and I are getting a little tired of getting tugged on every 6 weeks. The last few days flew by, thanks to God, and morphine. I am on a vicodin regime for a couple days as my throat adjusts to it new plastic friend.

I Really Need a Permanent Solution

My GI doc is starting to think that pulling these things out and putting in a new one every 6 weeks for the next couple of years probably isn’t the best plan. The problem is that nobody knows a better plan at the moment. My GI doc is starting to talk about reaching out across the country to find a better and permanent solution. If anyone that they can refer me to I would appreciate it.

A Recap of My Diagnosis

I have a Benign Esophageal Stricture as a result of having an Ivor Lewis Esophagectomy. The surgery was in June 2010 in response to reoccurring esophageal cancer that showed up after chemo and radiation. The result of the surgery was that approximately 1/2 of my stomach and 1/2 of my esophagus where removed. According to the surgeon all of the known cancer was removed from my body and I have been cancer free as of the time that I am writing this.

Since the surgery I have had 4 dilations and have had 5 stents placed in my esophagus. I have only been without a stent since the surgery for about 10 weeks – 6 weeks right after the surgery and 4 weeks between the 3rd and 4th stent. The two times I have been without the stent the first time it completely closed off and the second time it was down to 5 millimeters. The stent that I currently have placed is 18mm and I am scheduled to have it replaced in another 6 weeks.

My throat does not like the stent as the last 2 times I had the stents removed the muscle started growing over the stent. This has caused it to be more difficult to remove and cause more damage to my throat each time. Due to the difficulty in removing the stent it is more painful each time and has increased my recovery time from the procedure.

Possible Solutions

The only real solution that has been discussed at this time has been another surgery. The issue with this is that surgery is what caused this in he first place. Also, I don’t really have that much esophagus and/or stomach to spare so it would be kind of a big deal like the first surgery was.

Is a pemenant stent possible? Can we have a minor surgery that only gets rid of the scare tissue? These and many more questions are the ones that I hope to answer in the near future.

Again, if you know anyone who has gone through something like this before or happens to be a kick-ass Cardiothoracic surgeon please shoot me their info.

I Am Done with Chemo!

November 11th, 2010 Comments off

finish-lineThat’s right, yesterday was my last dose of chemo!

I am very happy to be all done and am actually feeling pretty well, actually I feel the best I ever have after a dose.

From here I have a couple of follow up appointments for the side effects from this last dose and then I have a CAT scan in about 3 weeks. After that I won’t have a CAT scan for another 6 months and I don’t see my oncologist until then as well. Basically they don’t want to see me any more, which I don’t mind Smile with tongue out .

I really am looking to get my energy back and trying to get back to work to keep myself busy.

Thank you for everyone’s prayers and support during this time. I could not have done it without you!

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

I Got My Stent Out of My Throat

November 4th, 2010 Comments off

My GI doctor has successfully removed the stent from my throat. He said he had to tug on it a little to get it out but other then that the procedure went smooth. My throat is a little scratchy but that is to be expected.

The hope is that my throat will remain open to where I won’t need any more dilations or another stent. We will just have to monitor it and see how things work out. I am expecting that everything will be just fine :-) .

Related posts:

  1. 4th Stent Out, 5th Stent In
  2. 5th Stent Out and the 6th “Long Term” Stent is In
  3. Stent and Chemo Status – 4 Weeks Later

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

I Am Postponing My Next Dose of Chemo

October 19th, 2010 Comments off

After discussing it with my wife I have decided to postpone my next dose of chemo.

The reason for this is that the cumulative effects of the last 4 doses of chemo are really beginning to take their toll on me. Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since my last dose yet I feel like I am at the 3-4th day since my last dose. I am nauseated more then I have ever been and I have neuropathy (numbness and sensitivity to cold) in my body, especially in my figer tips to where I freezing cold most of the time. Last night I had to sit on my hands for almost 45 minutes to get them to warm up.

The neuropathy is of concern because I am told that once it shows up that it does not go away for a long while.

There was already talk of reducing my dose of chemo that I was supposed to get tomorrow but after the week that I have had I cannot imagine taking another dose and making myself feel worse. My hope is that I can take the next 3 weeks off from chemo, get back on my feet, and then finish up my last two doses from there if appropriate. I don’t want to drag it out any longer but I really need to give my body a chance to catch up.

I would appreciate everyone’s happy thoughts and prayers over the next couple of weeks so my body can recover to the point that I can get this finished up.

Related posts:

  1. I Am Done with Chemo and Radiation!
  2. Stent and Chemo Status – 4 Weeks Later
  3. I Am Done with Chemo!

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

Third Round of Chemo

September 9th, 2010 Comments off

I had my 3rd round of chemo today. I am doing very well so far. I hope the next few days are the same. That means that I am half way done and only have 3 more to go.

The other good news is that this is the first week that I GAINED weight instead of loosing it since I started chemo. I only gained 2 1/2lbs but I’ll take what I can get, I’m too skinny now!

Thank you for everyone’s prayers. I can feel them and they do make a difference :-) .

Related posts:

  1. I Am Postponing My Next Dose of Chemo
  2. Stent and Chemo Status – 4 Weeks Later
  3. I Am Done with Chemo and Radiation!

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

St. David’s Urgent Care in Round Rock, TX

September 6th, 2010 Comments off

Unfortunately I had a pretty bad sinus infection this past weekend and need to see a doctor. I had been to St. David’s Urgent Care in Round Rock that is by HEB before so I wanted to go to the same place. I Googled them to find the phone number to see if they were open but unfortunately the didn’t come up in Google at all. The only location that did was the main St.David’s hospital on 620.

Anyway, I thought I would post their information here so that if someone else is looking for their address and/or phone number they would have an easier time then I did. So here it is:

St. David’s Urgent Care – Round Rock
1700 Palm Valley
Suite 370
Round Rock, TX 78665

Phone: (512)341-6000

Hours: 8am-8pm 7 days a week

As mentioned, I hope this helps someone find them a little quicker then I did.

Related posts:

  1. iPhone 3G Reception in the Austin & Round Rock Areas
  2. Austin Community College Coming to Round Rock
  3. Third Round of Chemo

Categories: From the Network, Health Tags:

Stent and Chemo Status – 4 Weeks Later

August 24th, 2010 Comments off

It has been 4 weeks ago today that I had the stent put in my throat. As of today I am doing great and actually had Chipotle for lunch. Yah! Unfortunately the weeks leading to this week weren’t all that great. I am thankful to have them behind me.

I had the stent put in 4 weeks ago today which was exactly one day after my first dose of chemo – which was not a good idea. Unfortunately the stent did not initially go where they wanted it to and I spent a couple of days in the hospital on a heavy dose of morphine and anti nausea medication. Eventually the stent did work it’s way to the right place and I was sent home.

At home I had to deal with the side effects of the chemo and the stent. With the chemo it was a lot of nausea and fatigue. With the stent it was the sensation of something always being stuck in your throat and the gag reflexes that come with that. By the time I started to get over the side effects of both of those it was time to have another dose of chemo. Bah!

I had my second dose of chemo a week ago today. It was not as bad as the first dose but there was still some nausea, lack of appetite, and fatigue. As of this past weekend I started to feel better and yesterday and today have actually been quite good. I have a little bit of a metal taste in my mouth from time to time but the nausea is gone and so is the fatigue. I am starting to get my appetite back as well which is nice. Chipotle never tasted so good.

Going Forward

From here I still have 4 doses of chemo. My expectation is that I should be able to manage the side effects a little better then these two past times so it should not be as bad. I may get a little more fatigued overall but I am felling pretty good right now so I am not to concerned about that. I am also having my current stent taken out and having another put in. This is scheduled to happen next week.

I am honestly not looking forward to this because of what happened last time. It should go much better though because my esophagus is at 18mm now and it being narrow was the major reason I had issues last time. I will be happy if I don’t need to stay in the hospital :-) .

The plan is that we will leave this new stent in for another 5-6 weeks and then take it out. We will not put another one in. The hope is that my esophagus will have stay open on it’s own. If anything I might just need to have it dilated a time or two in the months afterward.

What About Cancer?

Well, all signs point to there still not being any. My narrow esophagus was a result of the surgery that I had, not cancer, so it looks like we are still in good shape. My Oncologist scheduled a CAT scan a day or two after my next dose of chemo just to make sure. This is not standard but with as quick as it came back last time we are just going to make sure things look good. Also, last time I was in there all the side effects were hitting me pretty hard and I was pretty down. I think he wants me to see the test results to keep me going. I am better now but I could always use more good news.

Conclusion

Overall I am doing great. It has almost been a year since I was diagnosed and I am actually in better shape today then back then. A year ago a could not go up the stairs in my house without getting winded and feeling like I was going to pass out. Yesterday I did 5 flights of stairs with ease. That right there makes me feel great.

Related posts:

  1. I Am Postponing My Next Dose of Chemo
  2. I Got My Stent Out of My Throat
  3. I Am Done with Chemo!

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

Swallowing, ER Visits, and a Plan

July 20th, 2010 Comments off

So this past Monday was 6 weeks since I had my esophagectomy. The first 4 weeks went exceptionally well. The 5th and 6th week – not so good. In the end of the 4th week I was eating half of a burrito bowl at Chipotle in one sitting. For the last 2 weeks I can get water down my throat if I am lucky.

The Pill

This turn of events from eating to not eating all started with a pill. I had been doing so well eating that I got cleared to take pain medication via a pill as opposed to liquid. I decided to start small and try a Tylenol gel cap. As soon as it cleared to back of my throat I felt it stick.

I waited out the night but it still felt like it was stuck so I went to the ER. They did an emergency EGD on me and while the pill was no longer there the are of the surgery was extremely irritated. I was sent home and told to do liquids for 48hrs which I did. On the third day I was back at Chipotle. By the second bite I felt like something might be stuck again. As the day went on the sensation went away but things were slow in going down. The next day it was worse. The day after that I could not get water down my throat.

Another trip to the ER

This time they did find something stuck and removed it. They also saw that the diameter of my esophagus was even smaller. It was now about the diameter of a pen or pencil. I was placed on clear liquids only and sent home. I stuck to the restriction of clear liquids but by Monday the following week getting water down was again an issue.

That same day I had a visit to discuss the plan to get me back to normal with my GI doctor. He had scheduled me for another EGD the following day (today as a matter of fact) to do another dilation. Unfortunately he didn’t (and couldn’t) have much of a plan because he needed to see how my esophagus. We discussed more dilations, maybe a stent, and maybe another surgery. We would just have to see.

The EGD Results

The result of today’s EGD is that my esophagus was 4mm in diameter and he dilated me to 8mm. A normal person’s esophagus is 18mm so mine with the dilation is less then half of most people. I am on liquids only which is fine with me since I could not get anything down before today.

With what my doctor has seen with today’s procedure he has decided that a stent is the best course of action. The reason for this is that my esophagus is just not responding well to dilation and so doing several more of those isn’t going to help. They have already contacted the stent company and are hoping to have it placed within the next week.

The stent is not a permanent solution as it comes with it’s own set of restrictions. It will however allow me to eat and prevent things from getting stuck. I see a lot of soups in my future :-) .

My Take

While this has been a rough 2 weeks I am glad that we are making progress. I should have this portion of the journey behind me in time for my start of chemo in week. Wish me luck in that journey.

Thanks again to everyone’s help, support, and prayers during this time. It helps more then you know.

Clarification

After reading through all of this I just wanted to clarify that the reason for the narrowing of my esophagus is a direct result of the surgery that I had and not because there is cancer there.

I was a little concerned about this but my GI doc takes biopsies each time he is down there and they each come back negative. So we are not fighting cancer here, we are just experiencing some unfortunate side effects from the surgery that I had. The expectation of everyone is that over time my esophagus will return to a normal diameter and that this will no longer be a issue. I just have to been patient until then.

Related posts:

  1. My Official Treatment Plan and Start Date
  2. Stent and Chemo Status – 4 Weeks Later
  3. Unfortunately I Still Have Cancer

Categories: Cancer, From the Network, Health Tags:

Learning to Live in the Moment

July 15th, 2010 Comments off

It has been a while since I posted here. The reason for that is that so much has happened in my life in the last few months. Literally my life was going one direction and from one moment to the next it went another direction.

What happened was that I found out that the cancer I thought I had beat had come back. Finding out that news caused my wife and I to make some pretty big decisions in a pretty short time. One of those decisions was to have surgery to remove the parts of my stomach and esophagus that had been cancerous.

I ended up having the surgery two weeks later. The surgery went well and the doctor got all the known cancer out. During the weeks following the surgery I would have my good days and not so good days. I learned to understand that this was apart of recovery. Overall though the first few weeks of my recovery went well.

Unfortunately in the 4th and 5th weeks of recovery I ended up in the emergency room 3 times for various things related to the surgery. None of the items ended up being to serious and I thank God for that. Unfortunately during that time it was hard for me to deal with these medical conditions from day to day.

It was during this time that I began to realize that I needed to learn how to live moment to moment as opposed to day to day.

The reason for this is that I would have good things and not so good things all happen in the same day. It would seem at one moment I was on top of the world and the next I was in the lowest pit. As I started having more and more of these days I realized that I needed to cherish the good moments and not dwell on the bad when they came. By doing this it made the not so good moments more bearable.

Paul said it like this:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:11-12 NIV

I think that is what I am learning through all of this. I am learning to not let the bad out-shadow the good. Everyday we have on this earth is going to be filled with good and bad. It is up to us what we choose to look at and dwell on. We cannot control the bad news that comes our way but we can control how we react to it.