Ronnie, Matthew & I hopped on the plane early in the morning on July 9th for a quick 3 day trip to Houston for some more re-imaging and an assessment of his catheter. Although the pain was FINALLY gone, the amount draining had almost tripled. Ronnie was also experiencing some other physical effects and the major concern of ours was the external leakage out of the catheter site. It began to get worse and he was soaking the gauze with bile roughly twice a day. We met with the colon surgeon to discuss our timeline for the colon surgery, met with the Oncologist to discuss plans for our continuation of chemo, and had the radiology team do the catheter assessment. It is pretty incredible how they can just cram all of these appointments, scans, and procedures into roughly 48 hours knowing we are coming from out of state and want to accomplish as much as we can within a trip.
I have to share the best news first because I just cannot contain myself. In the beginning of this journey, Ronnie's CEA (Carcinoembryonic antigen) level was a 12. This levels helps to diagnose and manage certain types of cancers. It is also used by doctors to determine whether or not the treatment is working. So following his original 4 rounds of chemo and radiation on the colon, this number dropped to an 8. Now, we find this number is a 3! Anything at or below a 3 is considered normal. This tells us there is zero activity going on with these remaining lesions. Amidst these set backs we have had, when we look at the big picture, Ronnie's body is telling us I am winning and cancer is losing. These numbers and tests are telling us to keep pushing forward, stay positive, and we've got this.
The meetings with both the Oncologist and Colon Surgeon confirmed that moving forward with some chemo rather than jumping right into the colon surgery made the most sense. It has been a couple months since Ronnie's last round of treatment, and since we know this treatment has obviously been successful, lets go ahead and give his body a little more of it, and then look at surgery. Regardless of when chemo happens, 12 rounds are part of the current plan. So this way we are breaking the treatment up into 3 sets of 4 rounds to spread throughout the course.
Thursday was the catheter assessment where there were 2 routes it could go. 1: Just aspirate the fluid and hoping we need to just help pick up the slack for the catheter and let it continue running its course or 2: changing the catheter yet again. We went into this procedure knowing there was a possibility of him having to stay overnight, which of course for Ronnie to hear "staying overnight for observation" is like nails on a chalkboard to the rest of us. It has gotten to the point where every prick of a needle and stay at a hospital just makes things that much more frustrating and miserable for him. It feels like we have not caught a break over the last month or so. Trying to stay positive and focus on those positives sprinkled throughout are not easy right now. I never thought we would be so excited about starting chemo back up because it means a break from surgeries and possible complications. I never thought I would say, "oh chemo, we've got that."
With this third catheter it is like the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining again. Ronnie is smiling, laughing, crawling around with our crazy almost 1 year old, golfing as much as possible, and just LIVING. With every smile I see on his face it just makes my day because I just think of where we were and what we have been through over this last month. Praying that things continue moving forward and the good news becomes a regular occurrence for us.