Thank you to Josh for setting up this website where I can keep you all advised of my treatment status. I think it will be easier and I won't miss sending anyone the update. For those of you that do not know, early in September/October time frame I began having trouble swallowing. I have had this in the past and just thought I needed my throat stretched. Scheduling doctor appointments is never easy or quick. They were not able to get me in until November. When I went in they said they wanted me to do a barium swallow test before they stretched my throat. That of course could not be scheduled until the first week of December. About a week later they called to say I needed to immediately get a endoscopy because it looked like something was obstructing my swallowing. I immediately thought I may have ulcer or something like that from pills getting stuck there.. I also read about esophageal cancer which frightened me to death because of the survival rate.
So on December 11th I had an appointment with the surgeon and he scheduled the EGD and biopsy on December 17th. Dennis and I both were shocked and horrified when we looked at the photos. We went home and looked up esophagitis and it looked like that was a possibility We hung to that hope and left for a week in Palm Springs and a week with all of our kids and grandkids in Disneyland and Universal Studios. On December 23rd we got a call from the surgeon who said they had found squamous cells when they did the biopsy and I would probably have to have radiation therapy, chemo and maybe surgery. We were devastated to say the least. We had already had a cancer scare with Dennis about two years earlier. Fortunately he did not end up having cancer.
Fast forward to this week. Well this week has been a roller coaster for sure. Many tears and scary moments, but at least we know that what I have is curable. I have Stage 3 squamous cell esophageal cancer. The oncologist, radiation doctor and the surgeon all said they have seen many successes in the last years and since I am healthy and active, I have a good chance to be cancer free by this summer. What I found out is that I have two tumors in the middle part of my esophagus (I will learn how to spell esophagus by the end of this) and the cancer is in the lymph nodes right next to it. It has not replicated it's nasty self anywhere else in my body according to the pet scan. This week I have undergone 2 CT scans, a PET scan and an esophageal sonogram and am the proud owner of 4 dot tattoos (if you know me, you know I am not a fan of having ink on my body). These are done to align the radiation exactly each time. The EGD has made my throat extremely sore and made it difficult for me to eat.. So because of the two endoscopy procedures, the only bright side I can conjure up at this time is I now weigh what I did when I got married. I wouldn't recommend it as a weight loss method.
We had planned to go down to MD Anderson in Houston, for a second opinion, but they cannot get me in until the 30th of January. So we are leaning toward just starting treatment here, since this is a very aggressive cancer. and we are going to the top rated cancer center in Colorado. I am also determined to continue some of the natural supplements and remedies I have read about. I may or may not tell the doctors what I am doing. I broached the subject of diet today, and their response was because I was not eating enough, I should eat anything I can get down me. Personally I am not going to eat sugar, since squamous cell carcinoma likes sugar so much. The highlight of the day, if there were any, were the sweet texts I got today supporting this journey and our talk with the surgeon. He said of the two types of esophageal cancers, squamous cell was the one he would choose because it responds well to chemo and radiation and he has seen many people cured.
I'm scared as hell to go through chemo and radiation. I hope I have the fortitude. One thing I know about myself is that I am a fast healer, so I have that going for me. I have to do chemo and radiation for 6 weeks. 6 chemo treatments (Paclitaxel and Carboplatin at a moderate dose) once a week and radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Side affects are many. Losing my hair, feeling tired, some nausea, my swallowing getting worse before it gets better, and extreme heart burn. Not fun (I hope they are wrong).
I have so much to still do in life, and am going to beat this cancers butt. I am so thankful for my family and friends. I feel cocooned in love and support. Tears seems to flow freely. Sometimes I can talk about it and sometimes I cannot. Love to all. Hope to start travelling again when I am finished with the treatments. We have had to delay our Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan trip. We hope we can do it soon. Still contemplating whether to proceed with the purchase of the house that is nearing completion.