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Monday, October 1, 2007

Here we go -- a new roller coaster ride

Just a week ago I received word that I had cancer.

Click. Click. Click. A bumpy ride begins.

Yes, me. Cancer. Holy crap. I didn't know how severe -- or, hopefully, mild -- but I had it. The dreaded "C" word.

Click. Click. Click. Up we go. Ready for the big drop.

A few days earlier I went to the doctor to have a minor procedure to help me swallow food called, dilation of the esophagus. A five-minute procedure. But I woke up from the anesthesia 45 minutes later and figured something was up. It was.

"There was some swelling. You may need surgery," Doctor Philip Styne told me. "We took biopsies." Of course I was a little loopy, so these quotes might not be exact, but they're pretty close one can record without a notebook.

The following five days were murder. But Monday I received the call from Dr. Styne that the biopsies were positive. I had cancer.

Click. Click. Click. Nearing the top.

Next came anger, fear, reading, fear, appointments, fear, phone calls, fear.

Then, action, and, of course, fear.

Tuesday, I met Dr. Lee Zehngebot, who, despite what must be a job rife with morbidity paired with wonderful moments of achievements keeps a sense of calm, determination, drive and focus like no one I've met, advised me that all is not lost. Not yet, anyway.

I need tests. Tests that involve very expensive machines sending radiation through my body to see whether the cancer has spread from the esophagus and what kind of shape my body is in. (TIP: The "pleasant-tasting" bottles of barium used to provide contrast for CT scans can be made more pleasant by pouring in a liberal quantity of Nestles Quik strawberry-flavored syrup. It must be syrup. And I didn't find another brand at the Publix market I shopped in.)

But he also said there's a study. A study in which he and other doctors at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute participated. The results are promising. The results are good. Best for this type of cancer.

The drop, gliding along the tracks at a quick pace, smooth so far.

A couple of days later I had the PET and CT scans. More good news, the docs said. Very good news. The cancer is isolated to the lower third of my esophagus. Whew. Good news galore!

So, as I've been telling family and friends, my bar for "good news" has been lowered. Now, being diagnosed with a very serious, generally fatal, form of cancer -- one that affects more than 17,000 a year, mostly men, requiring chemotherapy and radiation for 7 weeks followed by surgery and another month and a half of recuperation -- is the good news. And, get this, it could have been worse. Holy crap!

1 comment:

mamacaps said...

How does one have the strength to keep such a positive attitude??! You amaze me and I know its the force of the family keeping you going, with all the well wishes and prayers coming your way, no doubt 'you are a survivor'