Treatment Update May 12th

I’ve been quiet for a while. Until today I didn’t have any news to share. As well, like many Bluenosers (a term for people who live in Nova Scotia), amid the chaos of a health system re-tooling for a pandemic, our safe little corner of the planet was shaken to the core with a mass shooting on the weekend of April 18th; leaving families and friends grieving the loss of twenty-two women and men. A week later, a military helicopter based around the corner from my house at the Shearwater Air Force Base, crashed during NATO exercises with a total loss of life off the coast of Greece. And just a few day ago a toddler wandered off and has not been located after extensive searching. There is just so much sadness in my province right now. #NOVASCOTIASTRONG

On completion of my radiation and chemotherapy I expected a rest and recovery period. I didn’t anticipate I’d be caught up in the swirl of a health system re-tooling to cope with a pandemic. The longer rest and recovery period became a source of anxiety waiting for a second PET Scan. Unlike optional treatments, cancer can’t be put on a back burner. Finally I got notification that I had a May 5th appointment. As it turned out, there was a cancellation so I got in a week earlier.

Tuesday, April 28th – I had my follow-up PET Scan. I arrive wearing a mask to a very empty hospital. Janet is not permitted to accompany me. I check in and head to the waiting area. Many of the seats are taped off and everyone is wearing masks. I get in pretty quickly and all the technicians are fully dressed in complete PPE. Since my first scan in January, the camera was upgraded and the scan is faster, more accurate, and of better resolution.

I’ve been feeling terrific, been running a little, eating without any problem, and I’ve regained all the weight I lost during the two weeks after the end of treatment.

I expected to hear the results of my PET Scan later in the week advising that my cancer was still limited to the distal end of my esophagus. I expected to be provided with a date for an Endoscopy and perhaps Surgery. Instead, I got calls with dates and times for urgent liver and bone scans. This can’t be good.

Thursday, April 30th – I’m out for a run and get a call advising I’ve been scheduled for a Liver Scan in two days on Sunday, May 3rd. at 10:15 AM. Although the scheduler didn’t know why this was called for, obviously the PET Scan showed something unexpected.

Friday, May 1st – I get a call advising I’ve been scheduled for an “Emergency” Bone Scan on Monday, May 4th. at 8:00 AM. As with the Liver Scan, this was unexpected.

Sunday, May 3rd – I arrive at Dartmouth General for the Liver Scan. The building is quiet and empty. I check in at X-ray with only one other person in the queue. There is no wait time. It’s an interesting scan. An IV is put in my arm and then I’m set up in the machine. Then a small amount of radiation is injected into the IV. The radiation feels like it is extremely hot but in fact that’s just a chemical reaction with my blood stream and it is surprising how quickly this sensation circulates throughout my body. The scan is quick and the rush of heat passes within minutes.

Monday, May 4th – I arrive at the QEII on Robie Street and check in for an 8:00 am appointment. All that happens is I get an injection with a small amount of radiation. Unlike the day before, there is no heat sensation. After the injection, I head home and return for the scan at 11:00 am. It takes time for this radiation to spread into the bones. The actual scan takes about fifteen minutes and then I head home.

Friday, May 8th – I still haven’t been contacted with any results so I call the office of my thoracic surgeon and speak to reception. Later in the day I get a call back with an appointment time on Tuesday, May 12th in the afternoon via phone. Although there may be some exceptions, my understanding is that all appointments are via phone to align with pandemic protocol.

Tuesday, May 12th – My time of tip-toeing on eggshells will come to an end shortly. As indicated, Dr. Wallace calls me in the afternoon. Here’s a summary:

  • The PET Scan showed some irregularities in my liver and bones.
  • The Liver Scan revealed two small cysts in my liver which are not metastatic tumors and no cause for concern.
  • The Bone Scan showed a couple of areas of concern. I have some arthritis along the top of my hips which might be what appeared in the PET Scan. As with my liver, there are no metastatic tumors and no cause for concern.
  • I am tentatively scheduled for surgery on Friday, May 22nd. Dr. Wallace will start with an Endoscopy to look at the location and size of my tumor along with the walls of my stomach. Then the real work of removing my esophagus gets started. I’ll follow up with more details when they become available

So things are moving along and all looks good. Since I can eat so easily right now, the tumour in my esophagus is no longer causing a blockage. My weight is back up where it should be. I’m running a couple of days a week. I’m not a good runner. My pace is good enough that I can catch the dog walkers around our neighbourhood as long as they stop to pick up the poop. I’m running between two and five kilometers at a pace around 10 minutes per kilometer. So not fast but good to be active.

As always, thanks for being at my side for this challenge. It is good to have your support. Between all the family and friends cheering me on, plus a helping hand from God, I’ve got this.

Peace, Love and Laughter
Phil

14 Replies to “Treatment Update May 12th”

  1. Phil, you are a true light shining in all this turmoil. God has great things in store for you while and when this chaos is done. Hang in and hang on, and tell Janet, I can still see her and you renewing your wedding vows on your 5th anniversary. It was magical, I’ll never forget it. Janet in her gown and you full of romance for her …. I’m rooting for you in this next stage. It will be Good🤗🙏🏻👏🏻

  2. So relieved to read your update and hear your good news. I was beginning to worry about you. So nice to hear you are getting exercise on these warming spring days. You will be ready for the healing after surgery. You are loved.

  3. Glad to hear you’ve cleared more hurdles on this “journey”. I’ll be praying for you and your family and hoping you continue to clear obstacles straight to the finish line. (And that you continue to race, after this very long and taxing cancer marathon).

  4. Hi Phil:
    Thanks as always for sharing your journey with cancer. It is good to hear that you are eating well and able to run for such distances – I’m impressed with that.
    Even though you are on this long and difficult road, your optimism and positive attitude are so beneficial to your mental health. In the face of so many procedures and ‘scary’ appointments, you are showing how to go through it all with grace and dignity.
    It must be a great comfort to know that God is keeping you and that He is always there for you. And that friends and family are supporting you through it all. Take good care and stay blessed.

  5. Hi Phil, you are indeed an inspiration to all. Your buoyant spirit is truly amazing. Healing thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  6. Good to hear that you are doing well and the “emergency” scans showed nothing of note. Well now you can blame your running pace on arthritis with good backup evidence. Stay strong and keep doing what you are doing! Thinking about you!

  7. We continue to pray for you often! You are truly an inspiration to all of us! All your exercise and ease of eating sounds wonderful! Blessings on you during surgery! D&J

  8. Very happy to hear of your continued victories along this campaign Phil. I must admit that the anxiety reading that last update had my own stomach in knots waiting for the final results so I’m sure it must have been utter insanity for you!

    Stay unconquerable, you continue to inspire in these difficult days.

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