I was talking to my father yesterday afterr meeting with my urologist. I told him that I thought it would get easier thelonger I dealt with cancer. But the truth of the matter the disease scares the hell out of me. I have seen what it has done to other people, and I certainly have had my share of experiences with this disease. Yet, each time I am told by a doctor that I have cancer that same old feeling descends on me and I feel helpless and afraid, just like the first time I ever heard the name mutttered in my direction.
Now, if you are a faithful reader you know that this is definitely not my first time at this rodeo, as a matter of fact this is my 4th reoccurence of cancer in one form or another since 2005. So when I entered the doctors office the verdict was not totally unexpected. When you have lived as long as I have and have continued to battle the same disease over and over again, you sort of become an expert in strategy and tactics that the doctors have in their arsenal. Not to mention you become highly tuned to the inner workings of your body that nothing creeps past you and jumps out from the shadows.
Luckily when I was 23 and was diagnosed with cancer the first time, the chemo and radiation were highly effective and I was able to enjoy 11 great years totally cancer free. I would say that this was the time that my life and career actually excelled and I accomplished meaningful tasks and learn so much. It was during that 10 year break that I learned everything I could learn about the disease that I had, and how my body felt throughout the different stagesof treatment and trained myself to look for recurring symptoms that might indicate the a major change was happening within my body.
But, no matter how much you know and how well you think you are prepared you never like to hear the words cancer when referring to yourself. True there are all sorts of new treatment options and a great many people survive and eventually become cured. In my case I have been attacked on 3 occasions with 3 different types of cancer. The first one is Large Cell Lymphoma, this is a non-hodgekins lymphoma and it primarily attacks the lymphatic system and is very fast growing. The next was colorectal cancer and that in comparison with Large cell is a much slower growing and moving type of cancer and in most cases surgery seems to be the best offer. If you have a localized spot where the tumor has grown and is contained within an organ or a cavity, these types can be easily removed with little because they have not begun to spread.
I have learned that chemo is so harsh on the body andit is actually industrial stregnth poison that is injected to your blood in the hopes that it will kill the abnormal cancer cells before it kills your healthy good cells. Which in and of itself seems like a risk that has the potential for great success or for great failure depending on your body and the resiliency of the cancer which they are trying to fight. Repeated treatments of chemo add the potential for large amounts of scar tissue to be formed where damaged cells have tried to protect themselve and recover from this harsh toxic agent. This can lead to complications down the road, because as scar tissue is formed abnormal cells can also form right along with it. These abnormal cells when they grow together are called a tumor and are the basis for cancer. Thus begins a vicious cycle.
Cancer can come back multiple times and can form due to many different reasons, some genetics, others damage to organs and tissue. Whereas, certain medications can cause certain problems to creep up and from there the cells can easily be mutated and viola, cancer is once again a major player on the field waging war with you entire being. In my case the HIV drug called Atripla is largely responsible for the damage to my kidney. The component of the drug cause some trauma to my kidney and impaired it's functioning. This impairment became great enough at one point that kidney stones formed, and because of their size had to be surgically removed. What I didn't realize then was that the complications that came up when I was dealing with the kidney stones was going to greatly impact my life in any meaningful fashion until yesterday.
When my right kidney was filled with stones, my kidney would back up and the bladder would not be able to totally empty itself completely. Because of this a urinary tract infection soon ensued and the urologist of the time decided that he was going to put a stint into that kidney and by pass the uritors and connect the kidney directly to the bladder and aleviate some of the pain and discomfort I was having from these infections. This took place in 2011, and here we are 6 years later and the significance of that action finally hit home with me yesterday afternoon once I got home from the doctor and was able to sit down and think about what I had heard and battled 3 other times in my life. It is my opinion, which I must say is pretty well supported by the ultrasound and image studies that were done on the tumor before the biopsy was completed. Looking at the pictures it is fairly easy to tell that the tumor has formed in the most likely spot that a stint would have resided years ago that connected the bladder and the kdiney toget.
See when the doctor pulled out that stint so long ago,, scar tissue was able to grow over the areas that were actually damaged by the insertion of the stint. The scar tissue was dense enough that the tumor was able to grow for a period of time hidded deep within. The scar tissue not only gave the tumor a very good hiding place it also was able to mask the symptoms so I wasn't actually aware taht I was feeling off and that I had another outbreak of cancer. This being said I want you to know that once again my trip down this new adventure has started out just like all of the other pervious bouts with cancer.
All I can tell you that finding out that the cancer is back and that it is in another location and that you have a chance that this tumor has spread to areas where you can't find it and that is when things really start getting really scary and real period! I really wasn't surprised that the tumor that they found on my right kidney turned out to be cancerous. What was surprising was that this was a totally new form of cancer, one that I have had absolutely no experience dealing with previously. The up side of this type of cancer is that it currently is localized to the right kidney wall and though it has tendrils that could eventually mean growth and spreading I was assured by the doctor that this was a very slow growing form of cancer and that I should respond to the treatment plan that he put in place to highly favorablely.
However, with all of that out on the table in front of you to view I should go on to tell you about the entire conversation that I had with my doctor yesterday and sort of point out where the creeping little doubt and fear is coming from with this new found information. See even though this tumor was caught fairly early in the stages and it is slow growing I have to add in the factor that I have had a very complicated medical history with numerous issues and complications creeping up in all of my previous encounters with this dreaded disease. So, with all of the previous issues and complication this tumor could actually become more serious than orginally thought, especially if it truly has started to grow and spread. Because the migration path is not a very clean path and could eally if this isn't handled in the best possible manner could easily spread to my spine and from there pelvis, chest and eventually could even reach my brain. Once it reaches the spine it is only a matter of time before it goes from casual to tragic. See I already have spinal issues and compromised bone marrow, and these factors alone make for a deadly outcome.
A vicious cycle seems to ensue and before I know it the cancer could be everywhere in my body. Plus the fact that this tumor has grown significantly it's symptoms and pain might actually mask the growth of cancer in other parts of my body and thus lead to a much larger problem than originally indicated. So I have decided to take the most proactive steps that I can aggressively persue and have selected having a different type of procedure performed that might be able to totally eradicate the diease way before any more significant damage can happen to my body. I have agreed to let them go in through my back and freezd the tumor which will immediately necratized the bad cells while allowing the good cells to remain unharmed. I am looking at having to have this surgery performed rather quickly to head off the cancer and be totally healed.
It is just funny that no matter how many times I have been told that I have cancer, that same ole fear and trepidation seem to sneak in and cuase mental anguish. Nothing prepares you to hear those words or how to react once you have heard them. But like I told a woman that I met at Family Dollar the other night: "God doesn't give us more than we can bare, for longer than we can stand!" Which serves to remind me that this too is just a fleeting problem, and will not last very long in deed and will therefore make me a much stronger person in the long run
As always my hopes and dreams ware with you ,