Friday, October 24, 2008

Let the Train Ride Begin

Got the results of the PET scan today, and it's not good news. I'm either stage 3 (bad), or stage 4 (really bad). I have four appointments set up for the next 10 days. The first is on Wednesday to do an internal ultra sound to determine which stage it is exactly. Then on Thursday I meet with an oncologist, on Friday with a radiologist. I would assume the chemo/radiation will start shortly thereafter. On the following Friday I meet with the surgeon to start making plans to have the thing cut out.

I was chatting with my boss about it today and he put it pretty well, I'm on a train ride now, I can't get off, and I'll just have to wait and see where it goes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Next steps

The doctor says there'll be an operation soon to remove the tumor (which by the way is technically in the rectum, not the colon). They'll probably schedule radiation to reduce the size of the tumor (it is large-ish) before removing it. The big risk here is that the tumor is very near the sphincter and there is a distinct possibility they'll remove the sphincter in the process. Now, as I have grown quite fond of my sphincter's ability to keep the nastiness inside over the years, this bums me out considerably. If that happens, it means I'll be carrying my crap around in a bag for the rest of my life. Beats death I suppose.

Today I had a PET/CT scan. They took pictures of my innards. Tomorrow I'll be chatting with my doctor about the results and what happens next. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking the News

Oddly enough the first to learn of my condition outside of Julie, was Bruce Patton, who happened call that afternoon. Bruce is an old friend from Germany who we hear from occasionally. Bruce is an awesome guy who made our first tour in Germany incredible. We used to go castle-ing every weekend. Sorry, getting off-topic...

When Ashley got home Julie and I sat down with her and had an honest discussion about it. She took it pretty well, I was impressed. She's such a great kid. Gloria is oblivious for now, but she's going to figure it out after awhile, and I'm afraid she's not going to deal with it very well. We'll just have to hope for the best.

That night I called Mom and Dad, I didn't really have a plan so I just sort of blurted it out. I suppose I should have had a rehearsed speach to break it to them gently. In retrospect, to them it was a bomb from out of the blue, and for that I apologize.

I also sent an email to Rachelle, and to Mike (coward's way out for sure). I didn't really know what to say or how to say it.

The next day, Tuesday, I informed my boss Richard. Obviously this is going to affect my ability to be at work. I'm still under the delusion that I can fight this and continue to be a productive member of the team.

As of now, four or five people at work know, my immediate family know, and our best friends Tom and Joanne know (Julie told them). Fortunately Joanne is an Anthem nurse and is going to help me pick doctors and stuff.

I guess the next step is to let the extended family know (Buster, Tom, Gramma Mott, etc.). I don't know if I should send a card, "Hope your day is going well, by the way I have cancer", or call or what. I think I'll opt for "what" for now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Worst Day of My Life

I had been having "issues" with my bowels for awhile. After researching on the web extensively, I figured it was lactose intolerance (like Dad), Crohn's disease (unlikely), ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I thought ulcerative colitis was possible, given my stress levels and being fat and out of shape. IBS was probably most likely, as something like one in six people get it at some point in their lives.

In August, it started getting to the point where it was hurting to go and I had to do something about it, so I made an appointment with my doctor. This would be the first time I'd seen him since December of '06, but I've always been healthy, no big deal. We had a short conversation, he took some blood, and ordered some stool tests as well. Basically they tested for Crohn's, parasites, blood in the stool, all that stuff. It all came back negative. After several weeks, I finally made a follow-up appointment, this was for the week of October 13. He marginally remembered me and ordered a colonoscopy for the following Monday, October 20.

I went in figuring they would find nothing, it would be IBS, and I would be screwed, because there is no treatment. Boy was I wrong. When you go in for colonoscopy, they basically put you out and you wake up immediately after it's over. You hang for about 30 minutes while your head clears, then you discuss the results with the doctor. The doctor (I still have a mental block on his name) came right out and told me I had colon cancer. Julie was with me, we didn't say a word. He started describing the tumor he'd discovered, all the while I was thinking, "I can't have cancer, I'm only 45 for God's sake", "what am I going to do now?", "is there enough insurance?".

So here we are. I have cancer. Life went from good to suck in 0 seconds flat. I guess I can either whine and cry and scream "why me?", or I can deal with it. I am chosing to deal with it. I will not let this destroy my sense of humor or my optimism for the future. Even if it kills me, I am not going to spend my last days in a fit of depression and self-pity.