July 2013 began a different and unexpected road to travel. Wandering about the years gone by and appreciating the people and events encountered, I found myself tearful even at the simplest of thoughts. Attempting to convince myself that being diagnosed five months earlier, and withstanding this horrible nausea, vomiting and severe weakness, has produced a more gentle side of my life. Needless to say I did not want to participate in any activity. I could not think of positive reminiscence, nor think of any future events. That is when I quit writing the blog.
Reading about depression was about all I could do. I certainly could not talk about it. My family knew something was not right and friends could not see past the smile and forced joviality. I could not be around people very long. What was happening? This was a new chapter in my life and I thought I was prepared for anything. After all, I felt I had been molded through the years of study and practice of Medicine, producing the tools to handle all turmoil.
Chemotherapy agents are poisons aimed at killing what makes the tumor grow and invade. Well how-di-doody, it affects the good cellular structures also. I took a six week hiatus from therapy and my mind and body recovered. I noticed a clarity of thinking and an old familiar friend- me. It was good to climb out of the shell, speak freely and just be myself. Thank goodness those around me understood.
The road to recovery from depression, as I discovered, was seemingly backward from most. Since the most effective treatment is antidepressants I refused to take them because of the potential damage to the liver. Many times these agents will trick the oncologist because of the increase of Liver transaminases. Unnecessary testing will occur, as well as, extended worry. The traditional chemical imbalance responsible for depression, and in my case, was chemotherapy agents stealing my energy and causing many hours alone and in bed. One can imagine the amount of unfinished and often confused hopeless thought patterns one develops.
A trip to Vanderbilt University, to discover genome targeted therapy, was a trip indeed. The first observation was that the health information systems communicated with all departments and patients traveling through the system were recognized and all the data gathered was conveyed via a private patient portal. This was so refreshing to not give your general information again and again to each department. After several tests and giving blood samples for tissue/genome analysis the trip back to Kentucky was welcomed.
Several CT scans later have shown a few lung lesions that are suspicious for metastasis. a VATS procedure was performed and metastasis it is. This changed the whole ballgame. Liver resection was completely out of the equation, which would have essentially placed me into remission, thus chemotherapy was stepped up. I was very familiar with the lifestyle that these agents placed me into.
News from Vanderbilt came at a good time and recommended changing the regimen to a single agent known as Erbitux (EGFR) an epidermal growth factor receptor blocker. Imagine the side effects and you will be correct. Even though targeted therapy has forwarded the science of cancer therapy enhancing the longevity of colon cancer patients is on the horizon but not at the present.
All along the six or seven months that I have not written in the blog I have managed to accomplish several things. I finished a Masters degree in Hospital Administration. I found myself glued to my cameras for the Kentucky wildcats. Shooting a full season of football and basketball, on the sidelines, was remarkable. Over 60,000 pictures taken and many great memories of coaches, fans great athletes. Not to mention the overwhelmingly talented and gifted photographers who get the immense opportunity to shoots these great events year after year.
I plan to regularly place a blog on the events of my continued journey. This is a privilege to bring to everyone news about a journey filled with turns and events. My faith in God is first and foremost and He is in total control.