Sunday, February 8, 2009

Well, so I have had a lot of poking and prodding this week. On Monday I met the radiation oncologist who will be overseeing the radiation part of the treatment. He said he does not think that the treatment will irritate the esophagus to the point where I won't be able to swallow so did not recommend that I have the stomach tube inserted. If the radiation does irritate to that point I can have the tube implanted then. On Tuesday I got tattooed on the chest (three small dots) which will give the people who will be doing the radiation points to aim at. This was done by using a CAT scan to look inside to see where the radiation needs to go. The same machine will be used to do the radiation which allows them to shoot the radiation from all directions.

On Wednesday I had the 'port' put in. This is a small cylinder with a flexible top that is implanted under the skin on my chest with a catheter that runs into the jugular vein and then threaded down to my heart. This device will be used for injecting the chemo and can also be used for blood draws for lab work. It itches like crazy now (4 days later) as the incisions heal.

Thursday I met with the oncologist again (two different doctors, one for the radiation and one for the chemo) and he again went over what the treatments are going to be and prescribed 3 different anti-nausea medications. When I took them to the pharmacy and asked the prices for these they said one of them (Emend) costs $374 for 3 pills, another (Zofran - ondansetron) costs $325 for a 30 day supply and the third (maranol) costs $800 for a thirty day supply. At this time only the Emend is covered by the insurance and the pharmacy is still trying to get approval from the insurance company for the others. I have also started the process to get a permit for medical marijuana from the state, though I don't know if that will move fast enough to do me any good. They have no licensed suppliers in New Mexico as yet, the law just went into effect in January and they have applications but nothing has been approved yet.

On Friday I had the ultrasound exam of the area and the GI doctor found that the cancer is localized in the wall of the esophagus with possibly one lymph node immediately adjacent involved. Altogether good news as that means that the cancer should be treatable by the plan that has been worked out.

The next step will be to start the treatments. I will start the chemo on Monday (2/9) morning and the radiation Monday afternoon. I can't say that I am looking forward to this but it is a part of the journey that has to be gone through. I don't really have a very good idea what to expect but the nurse in the chemo clinic assures me that this is going to be a whole lot of NO fun.

I know that I am extremely grateful for all the support I have been receiving from our friends and family. I helpls make it all bearable.


  1. Hi Don,
    Thank you for including me in your blogosphere. I know folks who are very old now and who have survived esophogeal cancer. Like you, they approached the diagnosis and the treatment with wide open eyes, as little denial as possible, and lots o help from their friends.
    I will keep checking in on your blog to follow along with you on your journey.
    Which hospital or doctor group are you working with?

  2. Hi Don,
    Hope everything goes smooth for you, sounds like quite an ordeal to go through. One of the guys I worked with went through a similar thing a few years ago and He is doing fine now. I myself have had Barret's syndrome for 3 or 4 years now but biopsies continue negative (knock on my wooden head). So both Miranda and I wish you the best. May the luck of the Irish be with you.

  3. I look forward to keeping up with you Don. These steps on the way to health are hard, but you've got a lot of support!

  4. You keep getting little bits of good news amid all this mess - I hope they all add up in the end! I'm pulling for you! Vance

  5. Kristin and I send our best... just remember how we're all thinking about you as this process goes forward. Take the best care of yourself that you can!

  6. Thanks for including me, Don. I've been thinking about you and Sally, and sending good wishes. Keep your eye on the prize -- the return of your good health, and let in all the love and support that's coming your way. There IS life after cancer!