End of Treatment Week 8

From the web … I’m not painting my toenails!


It is hard to believe that I’ve come to the end of eight weeks since my first day of chemotherapy and radiation. Unlike recent weeks, I improve daily. It wasn’t long ago getting my weight down to 76 kg (168 lbs) was a unattainable dream. Today that dream is a reality but more of a nightmare. I’ve lost 7.3 kg (16 lbs) over the last three weeks. I just haven’t been able to get much of anything into my stomach. But that has finally changed. Yeah!

My appetite is back and joyfully I can eat pretty much anything without having to wash every well-chewed bite down. Also, I’m feeling more energetic. That’s not to say I’m ready to go for a jog but I’m headed in that direction.

I think the improvement in the weather is also uplifting my spirit. As I write, it is 6°C (43°F) and sunny with barely a breath of wind. When I head to the front veranda I can hear the birds singing and there are hints of green starting to show around the neighbourhood. So spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner. That’s always a cause for celebration. I only wish the boat club was open so I could start preparing the bottom for a paint touch-up. But alas, the closure has just been extended indefinitely so it might be a while before we’re on the water.

As a general rule, I try to get my weekly summary out earlier than Tuesday. I delayed in hopes I’d have some dates to share for the next milestones in my treatment but I’m still waiting for confirmation.

I met with my thoracic surgeon, Dr. Alison Wallace, last Thursday. That was a phone call as there are no in-person appointment right now unless essential. Everyone is happy with my progress. My next milestones are:

The darker shade grey is the section of esophagus which will be remove in surgery.
  • A second PET scan. This is a procedure where a dye is injected into my bloodstream and after hour spreads into all my body tissues. Then I am passed through an imaging machine multiple times where the dye appears brighter in areas of rapid cell replication which is a marker for cancer. In my first PET scan, those areas only appeared at the site of the tumor and three lymph nodes in the wall of my esophagus around the site. Ideally, this is what should show in the second scan and even those sites should show lower active cell replication given the targeting of the radiation. Here’s hoping.
  • A second endoscopy. In this procedure I get a “happy” drug which allows my surgeon to pass a camera down my throat into my esophagus and eventually into my stomach. She will check the size, location and status of the tumor which is useful in the planning for surgery. Last time she collected a number of tissue samples to confirm the type of cancer. I don’t know if it that will be part of this test given that’s know, but time will tell.
  • A date for surgery. The planned surgery is to remove almost all of my esophagus and stretch my stomach up to reattach to what remains. You can see that in the darker grey area in the diagram above.

Like everywhere else, the medical system in Nova Scotia is focused on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In my judgement, we seem to be doing okay. As I write, there are 293 confirmed cases and so far no deaths in Nova Scotia so here’s hoping we fair well as the next few weeks unfold.

Although most businesses and other normal activities are at a standstill, cancer treatment doesn’t get put on hold. I expect my schedule to stay on track even though the protocols will be different in the hospital. I expect any future visits will be solo but we’ll see.

The bottom line is, I’m doing well and I’m ready for the next stages in my treatment.

Green Shirt Day

I’d like to finish this article with a change in topic. Today is Green Shirt Day. On April 6, 2018, sixteen people were killed and thirteen injured when a northbound coach bus struck a westbound semi-trailer truck near Armley, Saskatchewan, Canada.

On April 7, 2018, Humboldt Broncos defenceman Logan Boulet succumbed to his injuries. His parents, Bernadine and Toby Boulet offered to donate his organs so that six lives could live on. They did so because Logan told his parents he was registering as an organ donor and that he was inspired by his coach and mentor Ric Suggitt. Ric passed on June 27th, 2017 and was also an organ donor and saved 6 lives.

From Green Shirt Day website

Two years ago, in tribute, Canadians from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts placed hockey sticks by their front doors. This was a sad but unifying moment and I chose to continue the tribute. As cited in the media, “Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it…..wherever they are.” I invite you to join me.

I have been an organ donor for years and hope when my time comes, parts of me can be used to extend the lives of others.

If you have not taken the time to become an organ donor, please consider making that decision and take action now. Once you are gone, it is too late and even though most Canadians support organ donation, many never register and people die on wait lists. This is a selfless act. Please take action.

You can click on the Canadian Blood Services logo for additional information and to register.

As always, thank you for continuing to be at my side during while I deal with the challenge of cancer. It makes a huge difference.

Peace, Love and Laughter
Phil

One Reply on “End of Treatment Week 8”

  1. Congratulations on completing 8 weeks of treatment.
    The account of your progress, week by week, is very moving and inspirational.

    .

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