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C’est la vie … or … life’s a “beach” !

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It has been now 7 month since I found out. So far I have told only a few select people about it and I found out quickly who are my real friends.

In October 2011 I was feeling not to well and I first thought I had a bad case of a stomach flu. I even considered food poisoning but I never was prepared for what came next and I don’t know whether anybody ever can be prepared for anything like this. As I mentioned I did not fee well but also not too bad, but eventually I decided to see my doctor. She checked me out, did some tests and eventually told me that I should have an abdominal CT scan, which she scheduled for the same day. The next day she called me to tell me that I need to see a gastroentrologist. She scheduled me to see one that same week, which was already a little worrying to me that she was in such a hurry with everything. When I saw the gastroentrologist he said I need to have a colonoscopy as soon as possible. I got even more worried after I learned that he scheduled me to have one performed the very next day. Now all alarm bells went off. Nobody wanted to tell me what was wrong.

To make a long story short … I had the colonoscopy performed a couple of days later and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I could not believe my ears when I heard the news. The gastroentrologist advised me to have the cancer surgically removed as soon as possible. When I met my GP again the next day she also advised me to see an oncologist to discuss possible treatment after seeing a gastrointestinal surgeon first, who by the way recommended radiation first to shrink  the tumor.

Cancer !!! It was like somebody hit me with a baseball bat, but the thought that it could be treated and removed was  somewhat of a relief. Never expecting for what came next.

“Today begins the rest of your life!” This were the exact word of my oncologist after he had sent me for a full body or PET scan. The cancer was not isolated to the colon, but had metastasized to the liver and it was not only one lesion, but both sides of the liver are completely covered with cancer lesions. I was told to forget about the colon cancer but to concentrate on the treatment for the liver, since this could eventually kill me within the next 6 month if not taken care of.

Remember this was 7 month ago.

Today I feel better than I have in a very long time. I am in partial remission and after now 8 chemo treatments both, colon cancer and the lesions continue to shrink. The CEA value (cancer counter in the blood) which should never be higher than 4.6 was at 597 when everything started. Two weeks ago I was down to 5.2 and I am continuing to feel great, except for some chemo side effects. 2 month ago my chemo, which was a drug called Oxaliplatin and another drug called Avastin, was reduced to maintenance chemo therapy. The full chemo treatment used to last around 5 to 6 hours every 3 weeks plus taking a chemotherapy drug called Xeloda, which I had to take for 2 weeks with 2 week off before the next round started. Now I am down to “only” Avastin which only takes about 30 minutes to administer, plus the Xeloda pill.

My oncologist is amazed how well I have been responding to the treatment and how much better I am feeling. Sometimes I cannot even believe it myself. One day you are told your life is almost over and to prepare for the worst and now I feel like there is nothimg wrong with me. But I know that it can all change again in a heartbeat and that my life has changed forever. It will never be the same, even if I hopefully one day will go into complete remission.

The last half year has taught me to see and value life in a new way. I knew from the second or third day after I was confronted with the news about this terminal disease that I will do anything and everything to fight it. I never made a big secret out of it.

I  am working as an independent contractor in IT Consulting and since March of 2011 I have been working through an agency as Project Manager at American Honda Motors, Inc. I did tell Honda before I even had told my agency. For me it was clear in my mind that this contract would be over and times to come would not only be tough health wise but also financially. Loss of job, loss of insurance, unable to pay for the treatment, not knowing how life will go on … all this were thoughts going through my mind at this time. I could not believe it when my boss at Honda told me not to worry and that they will stand behind me all the way and to take all the time I need to fight the fight. Next I told my agency and they told me the same. It felt like a dream. This was such a relief.

Then I started to tell my parents, sister and friends. This was the time when I learned who my real friends were. Most of them were very understanding and supporting. Then there were a few who acknowledged the news and I never heard from them again.

As I said earlier. It has been a life changing experience and I know now no matter how bad things may get, it is important to always have a positive outlook and to have confidence in yourself and your family and friends, who are basically your support group.

I would like to thank all my friends and my family for everything. Everything counts. Every encouraging word, every listening ear, every supporting hug, every piece of help and support. THANK YOU.

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