The Results

Today was the big day – it had become monumental in our lives and finally, finally it is over.

Yesterday my husband had his CT scan to see if the chemo he is presently on was an effective treatment.  He ended up having a full body, including head, CT scan.  He had to drink two large glasses of a mixture of apple juice, water and some type of dye prior to the scan.  The scan itself was uneventful.  The CT technician at the hospital was personable and friendly – nice guy, he’s done all of my hubby’s scans so far.  About four hours after the scan my husband’s troubles began.  He started to feel nauseous and ended up vomiting sporadically throughout the evening, overnight and into this morning.  As a result, and out of desperation, I called our GP.  It seemed cruel to take a guy who was feeling so awful to an appointment that involved driving a half hour and waiting two hours for blood work to be processed with the potential outcome of receiving bad news.  I asked the GP if I should put him through that, he’s such a nice man and deserves kindness.  Her answer was “he needs to go to this appointment.”  Okay, so be it.

My husband, me  and his nephew – who thankfully drove – set off for the hospital.   My husband did the blood work thing and then waited.  It was quite busy and we had to wait a little bit before seeing his Oncologist.  It was worth the wait.  The Oncologist did a review of the CT scan findings with us – with what we perceived to be an incredible outcome.  The nodules in his lungs appeared to have gone – this finding is qualified by the development of some pleural effusion which obscured some areas of the lung – so there could still be some cancerous nodules behind the pleural patches.  The tumor that had been identified as the primary was not visible in this CT scan.  The bony lesions appeared to be healing.  It was not all sunshine and lollipops – there are some concerns with the pleural effusion as well as the purpura and petechiae on his leg.  We left with a prescription to try and clear these up.  His chemo session for tomorrow was cancelled.  The Oncologist rescheduled us for next week when we will meet with him after he has done some consultation with his peers to develop a plan for the next stage of my husband’s treatment.

Simply put, as the Oncologist stated, “it is a very good outcome.”   Not out of the woods yet but significantly closer.  My husband will always be a cancer patient, we know that, but for right now he appears to have gained some quality time.  Thank you to the collective universe and all those sending positive thoughts his way.

My sister-in-law did well too.  The tumor they removed was larger than they anticipated.  Still her surgeon was pleased overall with how the surgery went.  She had a bit of a tough night last night due to pain, so hopefully the pain medication has been modified to address this.  In her case, there are some requirements physically before she can be released from the hospital – which is a good thing.  I suspect she will be in the hospital until Thursday at least.

Whew, this is one rollercoaster ride that has too many highs and lows.  I know that there remain a lot of unknowns and that next week may bring new information, but for now we are going to relax just a little bit.

Monday Looms

Sometimes it takes a while to stop even with the brakes on.

Sometimes it takes a while to stop even with the brakes on.

We have been remarkably preoccupied this week and the stress is beginning to show.  Monday of next week has taken on enormous proportions because it is a big day for us.  On Monday we have two separate events that will influence, impact, shape, change, and a dozen more verbs, the future of this family.

On Monday my sister-in-law, my husband’s only sibling, will be in our local hospital undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous growth.  Also on Monday, my husband will be at the same hospital having a CT Scan to determine how he is responding to his chemotherapy treatments.  Together these two events have become the sole focus of our energy.  The days can’t go fast enough until we are on the other side, until the surgery is over, the scan completed and the results are in.  Regardless of the outcome, I am sure that more chemotherapy is in the future – which is a whole lot more palatable for my husband if it is working versus not.  For my sister-in-law the indication is that chemotherapy will be a prescribed treatment – let’s hope that the surgery is successful and the chemo required is minimal.

Even though worrying accomplishes nothing I find that all I do is wonder about what Monday will bring.  For my husband the CT Scan will have one of four outcomes: 1) the cancer has shrunk; 2) the cancer has stopped growing; 3) the cancer is still growing but has slowed its growth; and 4) the cancer is still aggressively growing.  I spoke with our GP today and she wanted me to recognize that 1, 2 and 3 were all wins.  Number 3 she likened to a car putting on the brakes, so she wanted me to see it for what it was – a good outcome.  Whatever the outcome is, we will deal with it.

For my sister-in-law the surgeon needs to get in there and remove the tumor.  Once they operate they can better assess what is going on.  Optimally they are able to remove the tumor and there are no surprises in the depth of it (which is the unknown variable).  During surgery the doctor will also be able to assess the proximate lymph nodes to ensure they are healthy and robust.  So the results and findings of the surgery will determine the treatment path she is assigned.

For me – I am a little distracted and worried – just like the rest of the family.  Monday looms large and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it.

What Did We Do Wrong?

I always felt that my side of the family carried more risk of cancer than his.  My mother and father had cancer, I had two aunts on my mom’s side die of cancer, (one at 38, one at 55), one of my cousins died of cancer at 42.  Due to this extensive history of cancer, my sisters and I are regularly screened for breast cancer and my family doctor is aware of the family history.

With my husband, his cancer seemed to come out of the blue.  But not really.  His father died at age 61 and I am sure that cancer was listed as the cause of death.  He didn’t know how old his paternal grandfather was when he died, but we just discovered that he was in his early 60’s as well – and we hope to find out what caused his death.  My husband is 61 years of age.  He has lung and bone cancer.  Lung is the primary.  He was not a heavy smoker, he cycles to work in good weather, plays tennis in the summer, plays squash in the winter.  He is a type 2 diabetic, but he saw the doctor and dietician regularly (every three months) to keep it under control.  He carried extra weight for sure, but he was active and able and on top of his game when he got his diagnosis.  He had a back ache which would not go away.  Then he started to get a pain in his chest, and it was that pain that sent us to Emergency at the end of June and started us on this journey.

This family has been through a considerable amount of stress long before my husband developed cancer.  We’ve had our fair share of sorrow and loss and the hits just keep coming.  Thursday we got the news that his sister, his only sibling, who is really and truly one of the closest members of our family – we see her every day, we live minutes from her and whom we love dearly – has a cancerous tumor. She’s already scheduled for surgery, but it can’t come soon enough. And the stress and the strain for the family will not likely lessen any until we get the all clear.

#7 – Cryosurgery for Cancer

It is so frustrating having a diagnosis without a solution.  To be told you have a terminal cancer, that the only thing that can be done is to strive for comfort.  These kind of statements push me to the extreme, and result in things like this sundry list of topics I have looked into with respect to battling cancer.  So in my search of different approaches for inoperable tumors or cancers, I stumbled across cryosurgery. This one seems quite viable, in fact, it is practiced in both the United States and the United Kingdom.  Even the World Health Organization has a section dedicated to cryosurgery – it’s not that new.  It has quite a few sites dedicated to it on the internet.  There’s also interesting stuff on cryoablation for inoperable liver cancer.

The initial reading I did suggested that this type of approach was used for pre-cancerous or early cancer, however, as I carried on searching more sites I discovered that this type of surgery has been done on lungs, prostate, breast, liver – a multitude of different types of cancer and at a variety of stages – including stage 4.  The National Cancer institute provides this information:  “Cryosurgery is used to treat external tumors, such as those on the skin. For external tumors, liquid nitrogen is applied directly to the cancer cells with a cotton swab or spraying device.  Cryosurgery is also used to treat tumors inside the body (internal tumors and tumors in the bone). For internal tumors, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is circulated through a hollow instrument called a cryoprobe, which is placed in contact with the tumor.”  (Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/cryosurgery extracted August 5, 2014).  

I found this a week ago and sent it to a friend at the Cancer Care Clinic we go to, asking if this is something that is available in my area, what the criteria is, who does it, etc.  Much like any good business, the CCCs know that they need to offer the most cutting edge products/services to bring in the patients and the funding.  All I want at this point is more information from my local CCC to determine what our future options are.

(I have to include a disclaimer here – I am not a medical professional, I am a caregiver looking for solutions.  The topics and posts that I make are based on my limited research and my own opinions.  I am always looking for other “solutions” people have heard of.  I’m not the best researcher but if you have something that you have heard of – send it my way.  I’ll see what I can dig up too.)