Over the past few weeks I have had various appointments with various specialists with regard to the future of my treatment.
Medical oncologists, colorectal surgeons, urology surgeons and radiation oncologists.
The consensus is, that I am to get a course of radiation therapy. The radiation oncologist seemed pretty keen to have a go at me with his fancy radiotherapy techniques, and all of them believe that given the histological findings of the resected nodes, that it would make sense to have some radiation as a back stop.
So what this means is that I am up for another PET scan in the next couple of weeks to reestablish a road map of my insides since they will have altered somewhat post surgery. Once that is done, we will get started on a course of radiotherapy. I am yet to establish how much radiation, and over what kind of time period this will actually entail, but I’m assured that with modern techniques, I should have minimal toxicity from it. This means my goal to go back to work at the end of May is still very much achievable, and the radiation shouldn’t affect my ability to work. This is some nice news, as I normally don’t associate the words cancer treatment and minimal toxicity in the same sentence.
Beyond all of this, the technical details, the medical management, is the slow realization that I might actually have a chance to live. I’m going to write more about this in due course, but as you might expect, its quite the mindset change, and not without its own traps. I have just finished reading the book published by Kristian Anderson and his wife Rachael Anderson called ‘Days Like These’, which I highly recommend. It chronicles Kristians journey with cancer from the beginning, to his final days and passing in January of this year. Its a close and intimate encounter with the struggles and the joys of this journey, and the tragedy of what this illness brings to people’s lives.
.. and I can’t help feeling guilty that I might get to live when he didn’t…
If it were up to me, if I had a say and a choice in these matters, I would gladly take his place so that he could be there for his children. Life isn’t fair, but then why do we have the expectation that it should be? Having an expectation that it should be only seems to set us up for disappointment when it isn’t….
As with everything, all of this is a work in progress. I don’t know yet if surgery was successful, only time will tell.
Until next time…
I haven’t tried time-lapse before, so I thought I would give it a go keeping to the seasonal theme of chocolate. Took me a while to sort myself out on this one, but I got there in the end.
Well, it has been far too long since I have updated this blog. This is probably reflected in the large number of questions I keep getting on how I am going since the information isn’t present here.
Since the surgery, I have been doing really well. The biggest challenge has been largely regaining strength back to normal levels. My gastrointestinal function has returned to normal, my diet has returned to normal, and my weight loss has plateaued. At its height, I had lost over ten kilograms, but now that has settled out to around seven. The first outing outside since being discharged from hospital was to the Wynyard quarter with Hannah’s parents and a lunch on the waterfront. The lunch was delicious, but I was exhausted from the endeavor, and had to rest up afterwards.
Compared to today, where I am about 60-70% back to normal, and can easily sustain most things. I still often need to rest during the day, but that is steadily improving. Hannah and I were able to get away for a week visiting friends down in Palmerston, Taupo and Rotorua, and then were able to get up to a wedding up in Russell last weekend. I was able to drive to all these places, which was a nice escape from our apartment.
The only major medical update to give is that the histology has come back from the resected nodes. The para-aortic node (behind the left renal vein) and the retro-crural node were both well demarcated and encapsulated on histology. The node between the IVC and the aorta however had unclear margins. Basically, what this means is that we can’t be sure all the cancer was removed. We knew this was likely to be the tricky node based on pre-op CT scans, so it really comes as no surprise. During the surgery, the surgeons told me that they were confident they were in the right tissue plains, and felt the node came away really easy, which reflected the decision not to resect and graft the aorta or IVC.
What happens next is the big question, and the more than likely answer will be that I will need a course of radiotherapy to the region where the troublesome node formerly resided. I will have more answers in a week or so, but at this stage, a few weeks of radiotherapy and then recovery is likely to be in order. I’m yet to be sure of the effect on my health since I’m only familiar with the chemo and surgical varieties of treatment, but there is a real possibility that it will delay my return to work. This aspect is a little frustrating.
I will keep you all updated as things progress, hopefully a little more comprehensively now that I am feeling better.
Until next time…