The LuLac Edition #521, July 14th, 2008
We will be away for an undermined amount of time. I am going in for what they call major surgery this week at Wilkes Barre General Hospital. The reason is to remove a malignant tumor in my colon. The last 6 weeks have been a challenging experience. Between this, the passing of my mom, living my life and holding down my job, I honestly can’t tell you how I got through this time period in my life.
As is our wont on this site, let me give you some historical perspective. Like a good boy over 50, in 2006 I had a routine colonoscopy. I was annoyed because the prep came the night before that big Penn State Bowl game in early January. I was told the colon was clean. In July of that year I began to have low endurance and could not walk more than 40 steps without getting winded and having tightness in my chest. Thinking I was a fat guy needing a bypass, I went to a doctor. My blood hemoglobin was down to 4. (Normal for a person my age and size is about 12 to 14.) I immediately got a transfusion of 5 units of blood. I was bleeding from somewhere. Since the colon was clean, in the summer of ’06, I had an endoscopy for the upper gastro section. They found a small lesion there, and removed it in October of that year concluding it was benign. As 2007 began, doctors were not happy with my blood levels. A follow up colonoscopy and endoscopy declared everything was “clean”. In late 2007, my blood levels kept sinking and as 2008 began I had an operation for swollen lymph nodes which were found to be non cancerous, a bone marrow biopsy as well as another endoscopy. I was springing a leak but no one knew from where.
At the Oncology Center where I was getting iron infusions, a Physician’s Assistant asked if I had a camera endoscopy. I said no and suggested that to my original set of doctors. After no follow up, I changed doctors and made the same request. Instead I was told we should start from scratch and once more I had an endoscopy and colonoscopy. As usual the endoscopy was clean but an unspecified mass was found in the colon. Some doctors have called it a tumor, others a growth and a third referred to it as a lesion. Either way it was there and I immediately asked to be referred to a surgeon who could take it out. The blood levels have remained low and I have received more transfusions of blood and iron in preparation for this surgery.
The thing that slays me about this whole situation is that I have done everything I was supposed to do and still wound up with this problem. Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m just saying taking someone’s word that a test is clean does not necessarily mean things are hunky dorey. We would like to believe the initial reports but we also know our own bodies too. And my body was telling me something was wrong. One must be persistent if the answers are saying one thing and the body, symptom wise, is screaming out something else.
So after all of this, I’m a cancer victim hoping to become a survivor. The last two weeks I have had more dinners with friends from far and abroad who have demonstrated their concern by taking me out for a meal.(Good way to gain back that 65 pounds I dropped, and miracles of miracles, they all picked up the tab!) My friends and co workers have also told me I have been taking this remarkably well. To me it’s a situation similar to my mother’s illness, it’s an “either/or”. Either I will get better or I won’t. I must confess though that the constant news reports this weekend every 15 minutes on the cancer deaths of Tony Snow and Bobby Murcer have put this thing right in front of my face days before the surgery. The news made it “top of mind awareness” as if I needed something like that already.
The surgeon, a guy I totally trust (could be the pocket protector he was wearing in his lab coat with about fifty pens in it) told me he’d need a week of my time to get this sorted out and another few weeks to figure out where we stand. Time is a precious commodity which in situations like this we gladly give up for a good outcome. So I ask your patience and understanding as we yield our time to people more skilled and smarter in these matters.
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