Chemo Therapy and Its Side Effects

While I have been sitting here and researching to find the best information that I could on chemotherapy  to present to the readers of this blog, I started thinking about my own chemo.  I say what I am about to say from my experience with watching and observing others that took chemo the same days as I did.  I was lucky in that the drugs that were administered to me by my ontcologist  were just not generic drugs that did not specifically target my tumor.  My doctor took the time to research the best approach to providing me drugs that were designed to specifically attack what I had.  I did it in a four week cycle both before and after my surgery.  We all have to understand that chemotherapy is actually the administration of poison to your body.  You are actually trying to kill the cancer cells by poisoning them.

The point I am trying to make is that since there are many chemo drugs that can administered.  Every drug or combination of drugs has different side effects and in some cases we don’t experience all of those side effects or may go to the other extreme and exhibit every one of them.

While being administered the drugs, I watched and the effects on the people around me varied from the rather mild reactions that I displayed to obviously very acute and emotional effects that others experienced.  When I say mild on my part, I mean mild in comparison to those around me.  Believe me there is nothing mild about chemotherapy.

Anticipation as A Fear

Just got off of my fifth PET Scan since my operation.  Deep in your heart you know that the scan will turn out okay, especially if it was preceded by four clear PET Scans.  However, the anxiety is still there because the surprise may be just like the surprise of being told you have cancer after leading a healthy and fit life.

In my case I have spent a life in stressful jobs and as a result have had acid reflux probably for 25 or more years.  When you have acid reflux you feel lousy but pop a Tums or some such thing.  As it got worse a couple of years ago, I started using Prilosec (Omeprazole DR).  It helped cut back on the acid stomach.  What I didn’t know was that although the acid reflux had improved, the die was cast and the cancerous growth inside of me had already started.

I guess what I am trying to say to anyone who will listen to me, you might have to get your head from up in the clouds or where ever it might be and heed the warning signs.  Gastro-esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing forms of cancer and basically the only foot print is acid reflux.  If you have had prolonged acid reflux, take your heartburn seriously.  More information about Gastroesophageal Reflex is available at:  www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/#2.

 

Radiation Therapy

One thing that I need to say is that I was told by my radiologist that I needed to have radiation treatment after the surgery. My surgeon was not real keen on the item. The radiologist had never seen my type of cancer before and did not have a specific protocol for this type of cancer, so he wanted to radiate my entire torso and wanted to do treatments for a long period of time. When we researched this, we found that radiation is not effect on all types of cancer (mine being one of those) and we had to consider the side effects of the treatment he suggested. Every one of my major organs, even those those were all healthy, would have had doses of radiation for a long period of time. I opted out of the radiation treatment. I like fried chicken (occasionally) but I didn’t want to be fired chicken. So far, I made the right choice.

Introduction Post

I’d like to start out by telling about my story in a brief format.  About 21 months ago, I took my annual physical, much like I do every year.  My physicals have always been great, never been sick other than kid’s stuff and colds.  I was and still am fairly athletic, we’re at the gym every week.  I’ve always had great blood pressure, low cholesterol and have maintained a perfect weight, a little light if anything.  After my last physical, my doctor told me I was anemic – something I thought I would never hear, but that was just the start.  He sent me to a gastroenterologist for an upper GI.  The upper GI showed that there was something around my stomach and esophagus.  The next step was for an endoscopy.  A couple of days later as I was walking to my car in a parking lot when I got a call from my regular doctor telling me that they found something and it was malignant.  It was a gastro-esphogel tumor.  I was dumb founded.  It was a misfortune that I never expected.  I’ve always eaten correctly, exercised, I don’t smoke, never have and am a very light drinker.

Obviously, I was facing an operation.  The tumor was the size of a fist.  By luck and through my wife’s network connected with the best surgeon for the operation in the United States.  I also found a good Ontcologist .  I started out with a round of chemo to see if it would shrink the tumor, which it did, but only slightly.  The surgeon removed most of my stomach and my esophagus and then connected what was left together.  Fortunately he didn’t need to use my intestine to rebuild what was left.  I’m not sure what it is but I call it an esophomach or a stomagus.  Then followed this up with another round of chemo just in case.  I did not take radiation treatment.  I am happy to say that after four PET Scans and other scheduled for January, that I am cancer free.  That’s pretty good since my tumor was approaching stage 4.  I can not overemphasize taking annual physicals, it saved my life along with some pretty good doctors.

My other blogs will cover more of the whole thing.

Here I am a year and a half later.