Saturday, January 31, 2009

Since you found your way here you probably already know that Don has been given a little surprise in the form of cancer cells.  We decided to start this blog as a way to keep everyone informed about what is going on with the diagnosis and treatment.

First a little history:  I had a blood test of a routine nature early this month (January 09) which showed anemia.  My primary care physician sent me for an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy in an effort to find out what was going on with that.  When the GI doctor looked down my esophagus he found some changes (Barret's Esophagus) that led him to take a biopsy.  He found some cancer cells.  He started to put together a team of medical people to deal with this and had his office set up appointments with a doctor to do ultrasound of the area, an oncologist, and a surgeon in the week following the original endoscopy.  It turned out that all the appointments got changed before I went to any of them.  

I did meet with the oncologist on Saturday morning (January 24) and he discussed what the findings up to that point were and what it meant.   He also talked about what the treatment plan would be, subject to findings from further tests.  The treatment plan he described involves a combination of radiation and chemo therapy which has a multiplier effect over doing these therapies separately.  The radiation will be done 5 times a week over a 6 week period with the chemo (2 different drugs) being injected during the 1st and 3rd weeks of the radiation.  One drug (cisplatin) will be injected and the other (5FU) will be administered by a pump over a 5 day period.  To facilitate this I will have a 'port' inserted in my chest which can also be used for blood draws and thus save having to find a vein to stick the needle in every time.  In addition, the doctor says that the radiation will irritate the esophagus to the point where I will be unable to swallow so I will have a tube inserted in my stomach (through the abdomen) for feeding.  When that course of treatment is finished then surgery will be scheduled to remove any remaining cancer and the whole thing sewed back together.

 He set me up with radiology for a PET/CT scan on January 28.  The preliminary results from that were available on Friday the 30th.  They showed that the cancer is well contained in the esophagus without any indication of spreading and therefore more easily treated.  I now have appointments with the radiological oncologist on Monday, with outpatient surgery to place the port on Wednesday (happy birthday, Don!) and with the oncologist on Friday.  In addition I will have an appointment with the ultrasound guy (still to be set up) and with a nurse to discuss what the treatment will involve and the side effects to expect, etc.  At some point either this week or next I expect to have the stomach tube placed.  I will then start the radiation/chemo either on Monday, 2/9 or the following Monday, 2/16.

I expect the next post will be after all the fun described above has happened and I will have considerable more information.