Meet Dr. Alison Wallace, a Thoracic Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. Today (January 13, 2020), Janet, my sister Mona, and I met with Dr. Wallace to learn more about the status of my cancer and my treatment plan.
Last night my good friend Richie texted “How was ya Phil.” He knew about today’s meeting and how anxious and worried I was mulling over all the possible scenarios. Richie and I have a deep, close relationship laced with a comfortable sharing of emotions and wrapped in love. His text was his way of letting me know I was in his thoughts. I responded that tomorrow will be a “big day” and I am feeling healthy and fit and that I’m thankful to have him in my corner. Richie responded “I know tomorrow is the day, it’s my bday … been thinking about it since we spoke.” Just now (Monday around noon) I sent Richie the following message.
Let’s pretend today is my birthday. I just got the best gift. My cancer has not spread and it is treatable.
With that said, there is a rough road ahead. I have appointments in the cancer clinic (that’s an intentional little c on the word cancer) on Thursday and Monday to get organized to start chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
It will be a 5-week round comprised of chemotherapy on day 1 as well as a radiation treatment. Days 2 – 5 are radiation treatments only. Then a break for 2 days and repeat for 4 more weeks.
Once complete, I’ll have another PET scan and endoscope. The PET scan is a way to check that the cancer is still localized. The endoscope allows Dr. Wallace to take a look at the location and size of the tumor in preparation for surgery.
The tissues harvested on December 18th confirmed the cancer cells are the type associated with esophageal cancer known as adenocaccinoma. The PET Scan last week revealed my cancer is localized to the tumor growing at the bottom of my esophagus and in 3 lymph nodes in the esophageal walls around the site. The cancer has not spread. My cancer is treatable.
Provided the results of the second PET Scan show the cancer remains localized to my esophagus and surrounding lymph nodes, I will head into an 8-hour surgery. In that surgery, the shaded section will be removed entirely and my stomach will be stretched and shaped for re-attachment to the little remaining part of my esophagus above the shaded section.
I can expect to be hospitalized for at least a week after the surgery when the risk of infection and other complications is very high. A common complication is a leakage where the stomach is reattached to what remains of my esophagus.
Dr. Wallace pointed out that my current good health, level of fitness, healthy eating and that I take no medications will serve me well during my recovery from the surgery.
This is very good news and such a relief. There is still plenty of story to tell but I think that we are at the end of this chapter.
Since you read this far, allow me to close by saying how much I value all the well wishes from family and friends. It is overwhelming and I love you and your willingness to be in my corner.