It’s been a tough week. For one thing I’ve been away from Phoenix and the Homestead. For another thing, additionally challenges have been discovered in my fight against the form of skin cancer I have.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve had severe attacks of vomiting, declining energy, and trouble keeping pills and food down long enough to be digested, robbing them of their efficacy. Two years ago, I had a stomach ulcer that burst, caused a large extent of internal bleeding, and wound me up in the hospital just before Thanksgiving 2011.
For several months I received treatment for the Ulcer and it ultimately seemed to have been healed. I had no further problems from about June 2012 onward.
My doctor, who has had me taking some strong oral medication in relation to my condition speculated that my ulcer might have been irritated and reactivated and might be causing bleeding again. Last Tuesday I was supposed to take a drive to his offices to meet with him and decide on a game plan for getting an endoscopy to see what is going on…
EXCEPT THAT — When I woke up o Tuesday morning, I really couldn’t think straight of even physically move. What I mean is, after I realized that I didn’t even think I had the strength to get out of bed I knew I needed to reach for the phone and give my doctor a call. But I had to sort of “think” about picking up the phone and then “will” myself into attempting to do this. After about ten minutes of “thinking” and “willing” I actually picked up the phone and dialed my doctor’s office.
Upon hearing my symptoms his answer was:
“Hang up this phone. Dial 911. Go to the Emergency Room via Ambulance. Do it NOW. Don’t wait. Have the doctors there give me a call when you arrive.”
At this point, it can make someone with hypochondriacal tendencies freak out. And since I’m one of those “someone’s” I did freak out but not for long because the ambulance arrived and guys were nice and kind a masculine and very very good looking and they distracted me from my worst fears along the 30 minute ride to the nearest hospital in Joshua Tree.
They consulted with my doctor, ran several tests, determined that I was severely anemic and had internal bleeding. I was also running a fever and dehydrated. But the Joshua Tree hospital is small and my conditions required transfer to a larger hospital. This led to another ride in another ambulance, this time with 3 guys instead of two, all good looking and polite and masculine and strong and able to make the worst fears step to the back of your head. They drove me 45 minutes down into the Coachella Valley where I was admitted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
Due to my severe anemia, and the fact that they were planning to draw so much blood out of my veins into what seemed like dozens of tubes for tests of all kinds they gave me three units of blood via transfusion. We were still going on the assumption that the source of my blood loss and recent problems with digestion and vomiting were related to an ulcer, so I was sent for an endoscopy. And that is where the tables turned. Really turned.
There was no ulcer to be found. Instead, the skin cancer has spread to and throughout my entire digestive system – esophagus to colon. This is why I have been having so many digestive problems. And the bleeding? Well, on the outside this skin cancer isn’t open. No pus, or anything else leaking from them. But they have an interesting property when inside the body. They ooze blood slowly. But the more they spread the more oozing is happening and you become severely anemic over time. I’ve probably been bleeding for two months. It was just Tuesday when I’d arrived at “Coma’s Coming” stage.
A CAT Scan confirmed that the cancer has confined itself to my digestive system – apparently it likes the walls of the digestive tract because their cellular structure is very similar to the structure of the skin that covers our body. But it eventually can spread to organs like the Brain and Liver once it has no more room to “grow” in it’s most preferred environment.
So I’m in the hospital, Have done a strong intravenous dose of Chemotherapy, with others scheduled every three weeks out until further notice. With the external lesions of this cancer they can inject chemo at the site so that it only affects the infected tissue. When it is inside your body ALL OF YOU is getting CHEMO. And that means yes, a lot of cancer cells are gonna die. But some of your good loving cells that have done you no harm are also biting the dust as collateral damage. And there is a lot more fatigue and just “ugggh” in this.
Oh, so in case you didn’t get it – all that throwing was from the cancer. And I can’t keep throwing up and irritating the cancer lesions more so that they increase the amount of blood they secrete. I also can’t just stop eating for a couple of months. So now I have to take a very strong anti-emitic (keeps you from barfing – you can drink motor oil and you won’t throw it up) medication around the clock (4 times a day) so that what I take in stays there.
It’s all so much more complicated now, but at least I know what is really going on and it CAN and IS being treated. Whether the treatment works….well it is too soon to tell. But after a dose or two of this stuff I think they’ll be going in to do another endoscopy to check and see that progress has occurred.
And to answer your question, “Why didn’t they just do surgery and remove or cauterize the lesions?” My GI doctor explained it to me this way. “There are so many of them that if we took them all out we would destroy your entire digestive system. And if we just tried to cauterize some of the larger ones we ran the risk of actually opening them up more and creating a acute massive bleeding situation which would be very hard to stop.”
That’s when I decided to go with the chemotherapy.
We can leave the option of just bleeding to death as a very distant second option.