I actually wrote these next few entries over the last few weeks. I decided for my sanity, and so I don't have to re-write some of these, I am going to post them all at once. Please keep that in mind if this section seems a little disjointed.
I had my appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Cancer, a few weeks ago. I had my wife, mom and dad in the room with me. Dr. Cancer went over my pathology report and explained that the cancer had spread from my uterus to my left ovary, fallopian tube and down into my cervix. He had noticed some “suspicious” cells in my abdomen that he thought may have been cancerous. Thankfully, it was just inflamed tissue and there was no cancer outside of my “female parts”. Since the cancer had spread, he informed me that further treatment would be needed. This will come in the form of radiation and chemotherapy. Now, I have a decision to make. When I saw “I”, please note that I am not making this decision by myself. My parents and wife are both involved with helping me make decide. I guess I need to let you know what I am deciding. There are 2 basic forms of radiation, one is the beam type, where they target the radiation beam externally to the spots that are a concern. The other type, is an internal radiation called “brachytherapy”. It is targeted and administered, well internally, in my case, vaginally. Why do I have to choose between the two? First of all, this cancer usually appears in women in their 50’s. There is little precedent for the doctors to follow, since I am about 15 years too early for this type of cancer. Dr. Cancer says that if I go with the beam radiation, not only will it take longer, I could face some serious complications 25 or 30 years down the road. These could include very pleasant things like loss of bladder function and “colon issues”. Now with the internal radiation, they do not think that there are going to be these types of side effects. However, this hasn’t been used long enough, or with many women my age, for there to be any reports of long term side effects. Oh yeah, I can also choose to not have any further treatment. This option is not even being considered, so we will just pull that one off of the table right now!
So I have spent the last several days researching both options: medical reports, personal accounts and other reports on both radiation options and even animated videos on how each one is performed. Here is my thought process. Dr. Cancer is an oncological gynecologist. He is one of two in town. This is all he does. I feel very comfortable with him and the information that he has shared with me. My dad has worked with him in the OR, and says that he will do anything for his patients to make sure they are comfortable and getting the best possible care. Dr. Cancer wasn’t trying to push me towards any one option, but my dad and I both felt that he was suggesting that I go with the internal radiation. I have discussed my options with my wife, friends and family, and I think the internal radiation is going to be my choice.
In my research, I have also discovered that there are diets and eating plans that will help with some of the side effects of the chemo and radiation. Mostly what I have found online is a diet low in carbs, high fat items and high in proteins and flavonoids. I am thinking I will probably start eating more soy based products and maybe include more fish. Next week, I have an appointment with an oncology dietician. My hope is that she will give me more direction for this new diet.
Now, how do I feel at this point? Honestly, I feel pretty good. I am still kind of sad that I can’t have a baby, but obviously, I wasn’t meant to give birth. I do not believe that this cancer is a death sentence. In fact, I think it is a rebirth for me. Since my surgery on January 5th, I have actually lost 35 pounds. Not the best way to lose weight, but I will take it. I am more serious than I have ever been about getting healthy. I am trying to get my energy back in preparation for my chemo and radiation. I have walked every day this week with our dog, Koda. I find that the bad weather that we have right now is a bummer because I may not get to go for our walk tomorrow. I have cut out fast food and am paying more attention to what I eat and how much.
So I saw Dr. Butt’s nurse today. I am healing well and should only have maybe one more wound check and then I will be done with that unpleasantness for a while. Not only an I dealing with the cancer and all the fun that brings, I am dealing with a drain and an open wound in my ass. Well, I guess in a week I will just have the drain to deal with.
I have felt pretty darn good the last few days and actually had the thought that I was mostly back to my old self. I was very wrong. We went to my parents house to visit and had gone into the basement to see my mom’s latest quilting project. Those steps kicked my ass. Now I know these steps very well. I lived in that basement for a good 15 years. Going down them was bad enough. Coming back up? Damn near killed me. I needed a nap by the time I got to the top. Looking back over the last few weeks, steps have been my nemesis. I thought it was just the jarring of my stomach muscles and such. Apparently, my legs have completely forgot how to go up and down stairs.
I am getting ready for my appointment tomorrow. This is a follow-up from the previous appointment. I guess this is mostly a question and answer period for me and my family so I can decide how my treatment is going to progress. I’m looking through all of the material for the research study and stuff that I have accumulated over the last few weeks, and I find myself in tears. I am scared. I’m scared that I will be in the small percentage that gets the really devastating side effects. Hell, right now I’m more worried about these side effects than I am about the cancer coming back. Just to name a few : kidney failure, tears in the wall between the vagina and rectum, seizures, diarrhea, other cancers and deafness. Or I can do nothing and take my chances that the cancer spreads. Forgive my French here, but this seems to be a damned if I do and maybe dead if I don’t. I don’t want to have this kind of responsibility. I have had to make some big decisions before, but never one like this. Never one that will literally affect my life. When you are faced with something this big, how do you know you are making the right choice? There are so many what if’s here, I honestly don’t know how to choose. We sent copies of the research material to two of my aunts, both of whom are nurses. They brought up some great questions that need to be answered. I guess I naively thought that one of them would provide me with an answer.