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Oncology 19.0

July 29, 2013 5 comments

I have been holding off on updating people on my latest CT scan as there has been a plan brewing about what to do with it. I had the scan about 4 weeks ago, and it showed that the liver lesion has increased from 2 to 2.5cm in the intervening 3 months. The retroperitoneal and mesenteric nodes remain stable, and there is the possibility of a new lesion in the right apex of my lung, this one is very slow growing, and hard to interpret, so it also could easily be non-malignant.

This result is consistent with the slow rise in my CEA, a tumour marker used to monitor activity of cancer. Putting this all together it basically means that my liver lesion is no longer responding to chemotherapy, whilst the remaining lymph node lesions appear to continue to fit the criteria of stable disease.

Over the past few weeks, there has been planning afoot as to how we will address this solitary liver lesion. It looks as though the best way forward is radio-frequency ablation of the area affected. This can be achieved by one of two ways. It can be done percutaneously, where they access the lesion via a small incision in the abdominal wall, or it can be done via laparoscopy (key hole surgery). I had an ultrasound last week to determine how accessible the lesion was percutaneously, and it found that laparoscopic will be the best way to go. The lesion wasn’t able to be easily identified via USS, it was also not well circumscribed, both of which are criteria for safe, effective percutaneous ablation. Another confounding factor is that it is located in segment 7/8 of the liver, which are posterior and up against the diaphragm. Percutaneous intervention would mean risk of frying a hole into the diaphragm as well. So the best way to access this lesion is going to be keyhole surgery.

I dont have a date yet for the surgery, but it is likely to be sometime in the next couple of weeks. It will mean a skipped round of chemotherapy (for which I am more than happy about), and a few days to maybe a week off work.

All things going well, it means the liver lesion is eliminated from the equation, and I continue on with chemotherapy which at this stage seems to have kept the rest of the disease in check.

Of course all of this happens in the context of our recent news that Hannah is pregnant. It has served to remind me just how fragile life is (both the new and the older), and how I need to maximise the time that I have. I now have a new survival target which is to be around for the birth of our child in January. Subsequent to that, I want to be around for as long as possible to be a father to this child. I realise that this time is likely to be limited, so I will count every second of it as a blessing. In the interim, I will keep trying to stay alive if not for myself, then for the sake of my future son or daughter.

Until next time….

Categories: Cancer Update

Baby 1.0

July 13, 2013 37 comments

When life deals you a bad hand, the best thing to do is to play that hand the best way you know how.

When Hannah and I got married, we had dreams. We dreamed of a life working overseas in the developing world, we dreamt of a future that involved getting old together and building a family together. Our dreams were shattered 4 1/2 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, and then shattered again with the first relapse.

We began to pick up the pieces each time, and assemble them into a mosaic. Formally a fractured, broken dream, slowly being re shaped into something new, something different, yet still retaining the original image. Then, one year ago, that rebuilt mosaic was shattered once again with yet another relapse, each blow some how being more definitive than the previous.

That third blow hurt, it hurt harder and it hurt longer than any other…

Yet somehow letting it be the defining moment of my life didn’t seem right. It determined my future, yes; I will die from cancer, but so what?

We all die; some of us sooner than others.

And I know I have been blessed with the life I have lived, and the time I have had since my diagnosis. When I realise that it isn’t all about me, then life is so much easier.

There is freedom in releasing yourself from yourself…. in living for others and not the glorified me.

To which came the decision to let life keep living…..

Hannah and I decided to undertake IVF last year as I didn’t want to leave Hannah at age 40 wondering what if?… and so in the realisation that life is about the journey, and not the outcome, we decided to bring another life into ours.

It hasn’t been easy, we had 3 failed embryo transfers before a successful 4th. The ups and downs of waiting to see if the blastocyst would implant was a roller-coaster of hope and disappointment. In fact, we thought the 4th was unsuccessful as well, until an unexpected text message in the middle of the day from my wife saying:

‘I can’t ring you cos i’ll just cry… I’m pregnant!’.

And with that we have rejoiced in the joy of bringing new life into the world, while at the same time bringing emergency toast to the bed before the vomiting begins. It’s ironic that new life can be so nauseating. 🙂

Sometimes we have a competition to see who can vomit the most in a single day, the guy with chemo, or the lady who is with child.

Celebrate with us please, as we celebrate and cry ourselves about what the future holds. This decision isn’t without consequence, this child will probably never really know its biological father, but I plan on giving him or her a legacy that will endure.

Until next time….

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