I feel I owe all of you who’ve been kind enough to read my column for the last year and a half both an apology and an explanation.
Since February I’ve been dealing with some health issues. What started out as severe edema (swelling of the legs and feet) and a rash which landed me in the Emergency Room, led to the discovey that I had “Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”, a cancerous disease of the blood. In theory it is the more curable of the Hodgkin’s diseases, the other being the surprisingly more common “Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
This is the one ostensibly caused by exposure to Weed Killer, among other things, for which Class Action lawsuits are advertised adnausesum in the wee hours of the morning.
The next step in the process was to determine what stage the cancer was at which required a PET Scan.
An interesting process in and of itself because as opposed to X-rays which bombard you with external radiation, the Pet Scan doesn’t use radiation. Instead the patient drinks a radioactive fluid which lights the body up like a Christmas Tree. The device is then able to “see” most forms of cancer that exist within the body.
After undergoing the procedure it was discovered that in addition to Lymphoma, I also have Esophageal Cancer, a twofer.
As opposed to Lymphoma, Esophageal Cancer, is highly agressive and often deadly within 16 months of being diagnosed. The reason for this is symptoms rarely present themselves until the disease is quite far along. The causes may be related to smoking (I smoked for 38 years) or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), or both. I’ve sufferd from GERD from the time I was a child, long before the advent of Proton blockers such as Nexium although such drugs are by no means a cure all.
Last Wednesday I underwent an Ultrasound Endoscopy to stage the Esophageal Cancer. The procedure yields instantaneous results. I was diagnosed as stage three, advanced. Still better than stage four.
The prescribed treatment for this condition is Chemotherapy and Radiation, simultaneously. Despite the fact that I’m at stage three, I have not developed severe issues with swallowing and have subsequently maintained my weight which while too much for my stature, bodes well for my ability to withstand “the cure.”
While there may be experimental treatments available, such studies require “clean data” and the fact that I have two different forms of cancer precludes my ability to participate.
Many people with this condition are emaciated by the time it’s discovered. My Radiologist informed me that I have a one in four chance of beating this or 25%. Not great odds but certainly better than Country House, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, albeit by default.
Should I survive the proposed five weeks of Chemo and Radiation (five days of Radiation with one day of Chemo) I then have a four week respite followed by another PET Scan to determine if the treatment achieved the desired results which in this case would be either a severe reduction or total elimination of the six centimeter tumor which currently resides in my esophagus. The Radiation will cover a total area of eighteen centimeters, six inches above and six inches below in addition to the tumor itself.
If the tumor has been significantly reduced or eliminated outright, I am then to undergo a surgical procedure which will remove most if not all of my esophagus, as well as the lymph nodes in my stomach. Roughly five hours on the operating table during which they will creat a new esophagus out of either part of my stomach, or intestines, TBD.
Frankly one has to wonder if the “cure” isn’t worse than the disease.
This will be followed by six weeks of “recovery.” Provided I make it through all of that, I will then have yet another round of Chemotherapy to look forward to in order to treat the Lymphoma, which was diagnosed as stage two.
I’m not undergoing this hell out of some desperate fear of Death. I made peace with that when I found out I had Lymphoma. Nor am I a sadomasochist. What I am is someone, (for good or ill) who refuses to quit. The word has never been part of my lexicon. Though by the time this is all said and done, I may very well wish it had been.
No, Death is not something I fear, it’s the part in between that scares the hell out of me, and the long term consequences of trying to stave it off.
None the less, while not a “Bible Beater” I do have and always have had a strong sense of Faith. Ultimately I’m in God’s hands and I’m content to leave my fate with him, or her, although I tend to favor the male aspect. What can I say, at 58 I’m old school.
In any event I hope all or at least most of you can understand why my focus hasn’t been on Politics or writing for the last two months. Also, unless I have something unique to contribute, I see little point in beating the same “Horses” that the 24 Hour News Cycles have analyzed to death, no pun intended. If that changes, trust me, regardless of my condition, I will race back to the keyboard.
In the interim I will post updates here, not out of vanity, but rather to let people who may find themselves (God forbid) in similar circumstances at some point in the future know what to expect, and the ways I may have found to mitigate the various side effects of the treatment.
I’ve already armed myself with some necessary tools which I will detail in an update soon. As it stands I have four days of freedom left before I go down the “Rabbit Hole.”
The State of our Country as always is very much on my mind snd at the very least I will continue to pray for its restoration. For those of you so inclined, prayers are most welcome and appreciated.
God Bless all of you and may he continue to bless the last, best, hope of Freedom on Earth, the United States of America!
Categories: From the Front Line