From time to time I share my cancer story for those who are new to the blog. In the last 6-7 months, I have learned that my cancer story actually began in the summer of 2007 not this past summer.
In the spring of 2007 I began having a number of abdomen issues in my right side. I had more tests than I’d care to recall. One of those tests at the age of 53 was my first colonoscopy. The doctor found a polyp that was too large to be removed … a polyp whose biopsy at the time revealed it was precancerous. I was scheduled for a sigmoid colectomy a month later in August where the surgeon would basically remove a section of the colon. When they did the biopsy on the removed section of colon and the polyp, in 30 short days it had become cancerous. The surgeon proclaimed that the cancer was contained to the colon wall and the polyp he removed and they got it all … colon cancer.
I didn’t realize it then but my doctor recently informed me that at that time in August 2007 was when I became a cancer survivor.
At this point you begin doing things so if it returns you will detect it early. The earlier cancer is detected the better your odds of beating it back … or so the medical logic goes.
My family physician began doing CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) test every six months. This test measures the amount of a certain protein that may appear in the blood of some people who have certain kinds of cancers, especially large intestine (colon and rectal) cancer. For four years, my counts were always low (and safe).
Also had a colonoscopy in late 2008, that came back clean with no polyps whatsoever. Two and half years later in April 2011, I had another colonoscopy … no polyps. But the surgeon saw an irritated place he was concerned with and scheduled a follow-up four months later.
In August 2011, I had the follow-up colonoscopy … still no polyps … but the surgeon could not get the scope past that irritated section and scheduled my second sigmoid colectomy the same week. While he had no evidence it was cancer, he was certain. As a pre-surgery precaution, he scheduled me for a CT scan that revealed an unknown mass.
Colon polyps typically start to grow from the lining of the colon towards the inside of the colon. This polyp took root in the lining of the colon and grew towards the outside of the colon … the CEA tests, the colonoscopies weren’t geared to deal with such an abnomality …
My surgery lasted 7-8 hours … there was indeed a cancer mass. The doctor removed as much of it as he could … but he couldn’t get it all. The cancer had made such a mess of my colon that he couldn’t complete the sigmoid colectomy … and instead finished me off with a colostomy. I’m now a bag man.
In that last CT scan, they also discovered some spots of concern on my lung. So within a month I was back in the hospital so they could do a lung nodule needle biopsy … to determine if the colon cancer had spread to the lung. The test confirmed that it had indeed spread to the lung.
My diagnosis: I have incurable Stage IV Metastatic Colon Cancer.
Then in September back to the hospital one more time … this time to have the port-catheter surgically inserted that would be used for chemotherapy treatments.
Once every two weeks, I go through my chemotherapy treatments. It starts on Wednesday with about 4 hours of chemotherapy infusions at the oncologist office. This is followed by 46 hours of at home treatment as I wear an infusion pump that is constantly pumping 5FU into me. Then I return to the oncologist on Friday to have the pump disconnected from my port-catheter.
Next week will mark chemotherapy treatment #10.
I’m a cancer survivor for four and half years and counting …
And that is my cancer story.
Thank you Lord!