Funny, I’m not sure I’d recognize my Oncologist, Dr. Wojciech Morzycki, without a mask. He is a brilliant specialist with a huge practice where many of his patients are in the advanced stages of cancer with little chance of survival. At our face-to-face consult today, he shared his diagnosis on the state of my disease and offered a recommendation on the direction to take my treatment.
If you haven’t been following my blog ramblings, the aggressive chemotherapy I started last September is destroying my bone marrow. That treatment plan was abandoned on February 23rd. Blood cells are created in the bone marrow and should my marrow be destroyed, it would not recover. I was close to that point. This dilemma with my bone marrow is a known-reaction is some patients. I could have done without membership in this exclusive club but that is out of my hands.
I have been on a chemo-holiday since then pending a review of a CAT Scan I had on March 11th. This diagnostic tool is used to compare the location and size of my tumors with previous imagery. Last week, I got a copy of the CAT Scan report prepared by the Radiologist. This morning I met with Dr. Morzycki to learn what he thought and his recommendation on treatment going forward. He compared my most recent Scan with a CAT Scan in February, 2020 and a PET Scan in July, 2020. In addition to the cancer tumors in my liver, he reviewed a handful of lymph nodes which have cancer cells now and in the past.
Let me start by saying I think his diagnosis is a cause for celebration. Janet and I are on a weekend Staycation in Margaretsville at an Airbnb which we booked prior to an appointment being scheduled for today. We decided to stick with the original dates. There was a lot of driving today heading back to Hali for this morning’s appointment and then returning to the cottage. I needed a nap and started this post after catching a few zees.
Some of the tumors are larger and some are smaller. Overall, that finding suggests the aggressive chemo did the job of stabilizing the advancement of my disease. It is no better but it’s no worse.
On April 6th. I will start a new cycle of chemotherapy with the drug Capecitabine (also known as XELODA®). It is not as aggressive as Oxaliplatin and Fluorouracil and will not damage my bone marrow. Dr. Morzycki is confident I can move to more of a maintenance mode in my cancer care.
A cycle with Capecitabine involves taking pills twice daily for two weeks followed by a week’s rest. When I say twice daily, each time there are about five pills. As a moderate treatment, I can expect easier side effects so that’s good news. We have a follow-up appointment on Friday, April 23rd. to reassess my progress and if all looks good I will start cycle two. That is what I can expect to be my indefinite treatment plan with an occasional chemo-holiday. For example, I cannot be on chemo and have day-surgery to push my hernia back in my belly and stitch up the tear in the skeletal muscle as the site of my incision.
So there is a solid plan going forward which will allow me to hang around on this blue dot we call planet Earth for a while longer.
And now some food for thought
You may have heard me talk about “predictable miracles” in the past. My faith is strong so I know God is holding my hand in this adventure. However, he is not alone. Coach Brad putting me on a bicycle about four years ago initiated a lifestyle change to regular exercise and a healthy diet. Today Dr. Morzycki described me as a healthy young man inflicted with a miserable disease. My kind of cancer, esophageal, started fifteen to twenty years ago without any apparent symptoms until I started having trouble swallowing in the summer of 2019. Dr. Morzycki credits my choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle as a cornerstone to how well I am coping with my treatment. Coach Brad was the maker of this predictable miracle, with God’s help, although I don’t think Brad will see it that way.
I know many of you following my rambling describe my story as inspirational. I am humbled by your comments and I set out to share my story as a “teachable moment” for others not so blessed with the support pillars I enjoy in my life. It is pure luck that I embarked on a lifestyle change four years ago. I went from an obese 127 kg (280 lbs.) coach potato to become an active senior citizen. I realize that most members of my cohort don’t have a Coach Brad in their corner to guide and encourage so without question I have an advantage.
The important point I wish to make is I entered treatment physically ready to take on the biggest challenge of my life. It is unlikely I would be alive today if I started all this as an overweight, out-of-shape, obese 66-year old man. And it would have been too late then to take on a cancer battle and a lifestyle change.
If you are like I was; an overweight, inactive mid-sixties, obese senior, now is the time to consider preparing to battle a future disease. I didn’t pick cancer; it picked me and I was blindsided to learn on December 18, 2019 that my future was heading is a totally different direction than expected.
So I think that brings you up to speed with what’s in store for me in the future. If I’ve tempted you to consider a personal lifestyle change and you need a hand knowing how to start, feel welcome to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via text/voice to my mobile at (902) 497-6056.
As always, I thank you for continuing to be a support pillar. It means so much to have family and friends rooting for me and God holding my hand as I face each day living large with cancer.
Peace, Love, and Laughter