Every story has a beginning and although this one really started a little over a year ago (see Back to the beginning below) suddenly it just got very real. Yesterday they installed what is called a Triple Lumen Port-a-cath. This is a direct line into my superior vena cava that comes out of a small hole in my chest with three separate lines or ports that hang down like strands of spaghetti. All of my blood collection, chemotherapy, stem cell collection and transplants will be done through these ports. It makes it difficult to be in denial when you have this constant reminder hanging from your chest of what is about to happen. This afternoon we have a meeting with Dr. Zangari and Thursday I begin chemotherapy.
Back to the beginning
It all started a little over a year ago when I went in for a routine physical. About a week after the exam I received a call from the Doctor’s nurse and instead of the usual “everything looks fine” she said that my blood test showed a protein spike that wasn’t normal and that the Doctor wanted me to provide another blood sample for further testing. So being a typical guy I proceeded to ignore the Doctor’s request and went on with my normal every day life. After all who cares about a little extra protein in the blood, how bad can that be? Lynn, on the other hand, being a practical and responsible adult went to that source of all knowledge, the internet, and found out that a protein spike could mean a lot of things, most of which were of little consequence but some being potentially critical, such as cancer. Therefore, I was directed to get my butt back into the Doctor for further testing. After a series of test, first with my family Doctor. and then with an oncologist, it came down to the only way to eliminate or confirm the culprit being cancer was to do a bone marrow biopsy which he could do in his office that day. This cancer question was one I wanted answered as quickly as possible so I said “let’s do it”.
I am not sure I would have been so anxious had I known what to expect. To say it was an uncomfortable experience would be a huge understatement. And then to add to the injury the result of the biopsy confirmed my cancer, multiple myeloma to be exact, a form of bone marrow cancer. Not the news we had hoped for, but there was a bright side. That is, that the cancer was inactive and until it was active there was nothing to do but go about my normal life. Lynn and I did a little research and found out that many people go for years without the cancer going active, so we were hoping for the best. Unfortunately about two months ago my cancer started to show signs of activity and further test have revealed it to be very active.
I have transferred my healthcare from my local oncologist to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and I couldn’t be in a better place, the best decision I ever made, (that is of course next to asking Lynn to marry me). The Doctors and staff have an attitude of hope that is reflected in everything they do. Doctors Tricot and Zangari head up the Myeloma Program and are two of the leading researchers in the field. Their philosophy is to hit the cancer hard and hit it early, an aggressive approach that fits me just fine. The treatment protocol is a combination of chemotherapy and two rounds of stem cell transplants over about a six month period. This approach has taken the median life expectancy after treatment from about 2½ years to 10 years and is getting longer every year. My plan is to help stretch that number even further.
My friend Nancy had a web site that chronicled her battle with breast cancer which she lost about 9 months ago. I know how much the site was appreciated by her friends and family. People could check in any time they wanted to see what was going on and how she was doing in a very non-intrusive way. Hopefully, this does the same for my friends and family. However, don’t let this keep you from calling anytime you would like, if it as a bad time to talk, we will let you know, if not we would love to here from you.
3 weeks ago