The following is a summary of what Stage 4 means so people have a better understanding of where I am now and will be in four months.
“A cancer is said to be in stage 4 when it has spread far away from the origin into other organs of the body, this progression is also known as metastasis and unless a metastasis is singular—meaning that it has only spread in to one specific location—and it’s still accessible, it usually means that the cancer will no longer be curable with localized therapies such as surgery or radiotherapy.“ – The Google
The Bad News:
I had a CT Scan performed yesterday and it confirmed I am Stage 4. This was not confirmed prior to yesterday because my distant malignancies could not be biopsied due to risk of location. The educated guesses from three institutions (PCI, UIHC and Mayo) were indeed that I am at Stage 4. They were correct. They know this because of the “Good News”.
The Good News:
My malignancies are shrinking. The chemo is working. My aortic lymph node that was over 2 cm long in June is now 1 cm. The same goes for my external ilieac lymph node (the furthest malignancy from the esophageal origin). The wall of my esophagus is also shrinking which explains my ability to stuff a Jimmy John’s Beach Club down my gullet in 13 seconds. I don’t actually eat that fast but if you dare me I might try!! Watch me!
More Good News:
Doctor Chandrikha told me I am her healthiest cancer patient. What does this mean? It means I am Superman but my cape is black so I can fly at night and cloak myself for dive bomb attacks on would be felons in the process of robbing convenient stores or passers-by.
I am on round 5 of chemo treatment. I will complete round 8 in December and have a PET Scan performed and analyzed to determine progress. If the scan reveals the desired progress, I will be reduced to more of a maintenance chemo. With this they remove the drug that makes me sensitive to cold and experience peripheral neuropathy (Oxaliplatin). I cannot WAIT for this! It will be like jumping in the pool on a hot Summer Day but without my Scooby-Doo speedo and Dollar Tree aqua socks. Don’t judge.
To Surgery or not to Surgery? – Prince Hamlet
Esophageal resection or a complete esophagectomy is a controversial surgery when at Stage 4. I won’t go into details but if you want more, use The Google. In summary, imagine they remove my esophagus or part of it and it takes me 24 months to heal with an adequate amount of suffering but during that time my cancer spreads to my liver or pancreas or brain?? In other words, because my cancer is metastatic, even if they remove the origin in my esophagus, I could still die within a few years and spend the rest of my life consuming Ensure shakes through a feed tube. Let’s move on to happier thoughts now…
How Do I Feel?:
I feel good about all of this complex life health mumbo jumbo. I discovered Zofran is causing my splitting migraines that shut me down for hours. Guess what my solution is? NO MORE ZOFRAN! I have Compazine to supplement and it does not cause headaches. All is well.
I take it one day at a time. It is all I can do. Right now, I feel decent and I hope it lasts. Much of the time it does not last into the afternoon and I have to take meds or sleep or both. I have a plan to get back in my woodshop and build some custom bird houses out of red cedar. I will be selling these fairly cheap and they will be branded with my name. Stay tuned…