Colon Cancer Sucks Ass

Thursday, June 29, 2006

See, I Said I Would Be Back...

I returned from my Midwestern adventures on Monday afternoon and have been in recovery mode ever since. I had a really great time. Both weddings were fabulous and I got to spend time with lots of old friends and family. I said I would come back with lots of stories and I did, but I'm still too tired to organize my thoughts!

I do have a couple of updates on the health front. My surgery has been rescheduled for July 11th (postponed one day). I need to have a stress echo done and they scheduled it for today, but I already had an appointment today that I could not put off. The stress echo was moved to July 5th, but there has to be 5 full days between the test and the surgery. For those of you unfamiliar with a stress echo, they attach a bunch of those little white disks (electrodes?) to your body and make you walk on a treadmill while they observe how your heart handles the pressure. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it? After the test, I'll see a cardiologist to go over the results and decide what, if any, regimin of lovenox injections I'll be on since I'll have to stop taking my other blood thinner.

I may have an endoscopy next week as well, but this is still up in the air. The purpose would be to determine if the mass in my colon is cancerous or if it's scar tissue. If it is scar tissue, then nothing needs to be done (no colon resection!!). Dr W is supposed to call Dr C to discuss this, but I think Dr C is on vacation this week. We'll see what happens.

I also received the results of my hormone tests today. The levels seem to be pretty normal which means I'm probably not menopausal. My internist wants me to see an endocrinologist to go over the tests in more detail so he gave me a referral today. I'd be surprised if I can get in before my surgery, but I'll call tomorrow to make the appointment.

Oh, one last thing... and it's good news. I met with Dr W on Tuesday and we discussed how much chemotherapy I will get after surgery if everything goes according to plan (e.g. my next CT scan shows no evidence of disease). He think that I only need to do two more months of chemo! That means that I could be done (at least for now) in October!!! So let's all hope that everything goes according to plan.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'll Be Back!!

I've been really busy this week. My roommate Jim and I had a big birthday celebration in San Diego Sunday with our friends. I spent the rest of this week recovering and frantically trying to get ready for my big trip. I'm leaving tomorrow to attend my friend Jen's wedding in Minnesota and then heading to Wisconsin to visit my family and attend my cousin Erin's wedding. My internet access will be limited until I get back on the 26th. I don't know that I'll be able to post between now and then, but I'll come back with lots of stories!

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Brief Lesson About Liver Resection

Now that I've been cleared to have my liver resected, I've started doing some research about the surgery itself. Here are a few interesting tidbits that I've come across (I have not verified all of these so they may or may not be true - if I find out that any are wrong, I will post a correction):

Typically, it takes 5 to 6 weeks to recover completely from the surgery.

It only takes 6 to 8 weeks for you liver to regenerate to its pre-operative size!

The median number of days patients are hospitalized post-surgery is 6.

If they remove the right lobe of the liver (as they are doing in my case), they also remove the gall bladder since it is attached to the right lobe. - I'm particularly excited about this one because I already know that I have gall stones, but they are currently inactive; however, with my family history of horrible gall bladder problems, I would rather they just take it out!

They can remove up to 70% of your liver and it can still perform the normal functions. (I've also seen 60% and 75%, but 70% seems to be the most common.)

My surgery is scheduled for July 10th. They will be removing the entire right lobe of my liver and a small portion of the left. I may have my colon re-resected at the same time. On the last CT scan there was a spot at the operative site. I can't get an appointment with my original surgeon Dr C until July 7. I'm going to discuss it with Dr W on Monday. After recovering from the resection, I will likely go back to chemo for 3 to 6 months to make sure that any rogue cancer cells are destroyed. I'll also discuss that with Dr W on Monday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Best Possible Scenario

I have had many medical appointments over the last year. Some of these were just standard appointments updating prescriptions and going over current chemo side effects. Others were more serious and caused me a significant amount of anxiety. As much as I would try not to, I couldn't help but hope for the best possible scenario. I would try to count of the worst and hope for the best, but I always knew that I was unprepared for whatever news that I got. At some appointments, I received good news and at others, bad news, but I never received the best possible news... until today!!!

I met with the liver surgeon Dr B this afternoon and he didn't even hesitate in agreeing to do a liver resection. Good news! He wants to do it as soon, after I've been off chemo for a month. Even better news! I have to stop chemo now... no chemo treatment next week. Great news! This was actually better than I could have hoped for. I had never even considered that I might stop chemo right away. Who knew that it was possible to be this excited about having more than half of one's liver taken out?!?!?!?

I'm supposed to call tomorrow to schedule the surgery. (We have to wait at least a month because one of my treatment drugs-Avastin slows wound healing. It has to be out of my system.) I also need to make an appointment with Dr C, my original surgeon, about the spot in my colon. AND I have to call and cancel my next two chemotherapy sessions!!

What A Way To Start The Day?!?!

I've been dreaming a lot recently, but for the most part I haven't been able to remember many details. I just wake up very disturbed, but not knowing quite why until yesterday. I had a dream that Dr W had sent a note to Dr B (the liver surgeon) explaining why he thought that a liver resection would be a good idea. He talked about my excellent response to chemo and my age. All prefectly normal stuff. Then he warned Dr W that I was "unseemly" and "rather unattractive." Huh??? According to Webster's dictionary "unseemly" is described as not in accord with accepted standards of good taste; grossly improper. "Rather unattractive" speaks for itself. So I woke up wondering why on earth I would think that someone else would describe me that way. Then I read my horoscope in the LA Times (by Holiday Mathis):

"You may be uncertain as to how others perceive you, but the planets assure that you're coming across well. As sung by sign mate Prince, you don't have to be "cool" to rule someone's world."

Now I'm unseemly, rather unattractive and not cool! I guess the people around me like me that way though? Now I just have to decide what to do with my power to rule someone's world. Hmmmm... the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Never-Ending, Continually-Frustrating Financial Saga

Last week after my treatment, I stopped by Walgreens to drop off a prescription. At the same time, I decided to verify that my prescription for Kytril, my anti-nausea medication, was ready. I had tried to pick it up a day earlier, but it was not there. They were expecting to receive a shipment in the next day. The woman confirmed that it had come in and was ready for me. Instead of waiting in another line to pick it up, I said that I'd come back later to pick up both the new prescription and the Kytril.

Around 6pm, I headed back. They weren't busy and I was able to get help right away. Both filled prescription were presented to me and I was told that since I had not met my "share of costs" (a monthly deductable) for the month, I would have to pay for both drugs. I instantly started to panic and try to explain that I had met the amount (which is an insane $511) almost two weeks earlier. She very patiently checked in the computer and confirmed that Medi-cal was claiming that I still needed to pay an additional $44. Well, one prescription was $22 and the Kyril was... $367. Keep in mind that is $367 for six pills. SIX!!! Because the computer said that I still owed money, I would have to pay the total amount because Walgreens can't split the cost between me and Medi-cal.

The Medi-cal offices were closed for the day, so I wouldn't be able to contact them until the next morning and I needed to take the first pill at 10pm. I also did not have access to enough money to pay for the prescription. The Walgreen's employee gave me a couple of suggestions. I pay for one box ($123) - still too much money since rent was due in two days and I had already shelled out $511 for the month. I could try contacting my clinic and see if they could provide me with samples to get me through until I could get this straightened out.

So I paid for the $22 prescription and headed home to call. Miraculously, the nurse who had administered my chemo that day answered the phone. I explained the whole situation to her and she said that they had samples, but they were supposed to have the doctor's authorization to give them out. She asked me to hold and must have talked to someone else. When she came back on the line, she said they could give me 4 pills and they'd get Dr W to approve it the next day.

By then it was almost 7pm and the clinic closes at 8pm. I had to leave right away. Traffic was really light so I was able to get there in 30 minutes and pick up the medication that I needed to my immense relief. They had also already contacted Dr W who had given his okay.

I was not able to make the necessary phone calls the next day to get it all straighted out due to my chemo-induced stupor and now it's June and I get to start all over again. There's a financial counselor at the clinic that I need to call this week to see if she can help me. Someone even suggested that she may be able to get my "share of costs" to a reasonable amount instead of the current completely ridiculous amount since she actual knows how Medi-cal works.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Consultations, More Doctors and Possible Surgery, Oh My!

Last Monday I had met with Dr W to discuss my latest CT scan results (and then get injected with another chemo treatment). He went over the report with me which it turns out, I had deciphered rather well. There are three tumors in my liver, one swollen lymph node next to my IVC (look it up), and one spot at the surgery site where the two ends of my colon were reconnected. I brought up the possibility of a liver resection and Dr W thinks that it is worthwhile at this point for me to have a consultation with a liver surgeon. He gave me a referral to a well-known liver surgeon, Dr B. I will be calling tomorrow to see when I can get an appointment with him. I also have to get preapproval from Medi-cal for the consult. If the resection is doable, I need to see Dr C (my original surgeon) about the spot at the old surgery site. I may need to have a second colon resection done to get rid of it. Hopefully, they could do them both at the same time and save me from having two MAJOR surgeries. We'll see.

I also had a difficult time getting my anti-nausea meds for my post-chemo regime this time. I'll go into the detail later because it's late and I'm exhausted after an amazing horseback riding adventure which I'll also detail later.

I've been thinking that what would really make me feel better and make this situation easier to bear would be a trip to France. I could tour wine country for a couple of weeks which means I'd have to bring my roommate R since he's working to become a certified sommelier. Oh, and if R is coming, I should probably bring J as well. Now I just have to find someone to sponsor the trip... hmmmmmm.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Candy Mountain

I'm trying something new - I promise I'll have a real post at some point today too, but I have to share this video that I found through My Pink Shoe. I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I did! (Be prepared - it's about 3 1/2 minutes.)