Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 1

It Begins

Starting chemo and radiation therapy today for the next 5-6 weeks. The goal is to shrink the tumor to increase the chances for a successful operation.

The good news is that the chemo will be sort of like an IV drip throughout the week so if you see me in church or around the office with a fanny pack, it's not some new fangled iDevice; it's just the chemo.

The bad news is that while the radiation therapy involves gamma rays, there's apparently zero chance that I'll turn into something like the Hulk which would've made life ... interesting.

On days like today, I'm reminded that Joy is a choice, not an outcome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It Is Well With My Soul

First Oncologist Visit

Good evening everyone!

No chemo today. Mostly spent time consulting with the medical oncologist (for chemo) and the radiology oncologist (for radiation). Blood taken to see if my levels have gone down sufficiently to start chemo. On Wednesday, I go in for CT scan to map my abdomen area for the radiation therapy. Radiation is the main gun and pinpoints the tumor to kill it; chemo helps radiation do its thing. Interestingly, I'll be getting my first tattoos! The tattoos will be small dots in three areas on my abdomen that the radiation uses for alignment to ensure they hit the same target each treatment. Tattoos are permanent.

Radiation + chemo therapy will probably start next Monday depending on blood work results and insurance.

This morning, as Gail and I read through our devotion and prayed, we were reminded of Horatio Spafford's story behind It Is Well With My Soul. It brought us to tears as we read the lyrics of a hymn we know so well. It really is well with my soul.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's Localized

More Scans and a Procedure

They did a PET scan today to determine how far the cancer has spread and, thankfully, the tumor is localized just on my pancreas. It was an answer to prayer. Currently, the tumor is too large and has covered a vein running through the pancreas; surgery is not possible ... yet. They want the tumor to shrink and, if it shrinks enough, surgery to remove the tumor can happen. Tomorrow, they'll put in a mediport which will allow them to draw blood and make chemotherapy much easier.

The good news are that I'm in very good shape and young enough to endure all the therapies that are coming up, the tumor is localized. The reality is that this is not a good cancer; it's aggressive and most do not survive. I'm really in His hands.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

In the Hospital

It's not a gallstone

As many of you already know, I was scheduled for a sonogram of my liver on Saturday morning. After the sonogram was and the doctor consulted with the technician, I was instructed to go for a CT scan right away at Medical Center of Plano, so Gail and I went and did that. Based on the results of both tests, I was admitted into the emergency room. We originally thought I had gallstones, and that a stone has escaped the gall bladder and lodged itself in the bile duct which is why I'm yellow and have no appetite.

On April 8, I had a procedure called ERCP to remove the blockage, and the next morning the plan was to remove the gall bladder (as there are more stones), thereby preventing this from happening again.

On April 9, they performed an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and found that the mass blocking the bile duct is a tumor and it's cancerous. The tumor is on the head of the pancreas and is putting enough pressure on the bile duct to cause jaundice. A plastic stent was placed in the bile duct to relieve the pressure and let things start flowing again.

I'll stay in the hospital for this week for observation and to meet with oncologists. To my knowledge, no one in my family has had cancer before so I'm unsure what to expect. Lots of unknown here.