Friday, June 29, 2012

Stanford Disses Old School Radiation

At Stanford since this morning. We came in for a consultation with a surgeon, and the consensus was in line with what we have been told so far, which is good. The only difference is that the radiation treatment recommended by my initial radiation oncologist was characterized as "old school" by the surgeon here. Daaaaamn. No he didn't. He straight up dissed the rad tech. Apparently there's this other kind of radiation treatment that doesn't have to be administered over a course of multiple weeks: SBRT (stereotactic body radiation therapy). Instead I'd get concentrated doses in 5 days. That would be nice. It also sounds like the odds of pulling a Dr. David Banner would go up. I don't have anything on paper to back this up. It's just a gut feeling.

I'm about to meet with the radiation oncologist today, so will probably be here for a while longer. I might actually get dosed today, which is all good.

My wife and sister-in-law are with me, and are amazing. Couldn't be doing this without these wonderful women. Thank you for all your support, ladies.

Oh, and tumor in my pancreas, yeah you. I'm gonna fuck you up, you little bastard. I'm gonna go Cobra Kai on your ass. Sweep the leg.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Keepin it Local

We just received word that the cancer is localized to my pancreas. That is awesome news. -uck you cancer. I am going to slay your ass.

My First Tattoo

This doctor is indicating I'll be undergoing blasts everyday for approx 6-7 weeks in conjunction with chemotherapy, which may or may not go longer. Again, we are also getting second opinions on this stuff. My wife is AMAZING, as she's keeping track of all this stuff and coordinating with medical staff to make sure everyone is talking with each other and getting the paperwork needed to shuffle it into the right hands.

It's all moving along pretty quickly, which is good: I want to get this started ASAP. However, there's a part of me that thinks there should be a better way of localizing and blasting the affected area. We should have nano structures that could encapsulate the mass, shielding the external organs and tissues, while irradiating the enclosed mass. Can someone get on that please?

In the meantime I will be doing the old school method of external exposure to rads, which will be somewhat rad.

I'm interested to get some feedback: my sis and bro in law came up with some clever slogans for tshirts proclaiming support for my success, which I thought was amazingly considerate and loving. Again I feel totally blessed to have such wonderful people around exuding so much positive energy. It's all good. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Chance to Go Hulk

My brother-in-law drew the wonderful and completely inaccurate, yet perverse graphical representation of my pancreatic adenocarcinoma
I was recently diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. It's apparently one of the more common kinds of cancer if you're gonna get it in your pancreas. Never being one to go half-assed into anything my cancer is very aggressive. I've resolved to kick its ass, however, and will be going through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment before having surgery to remove some of my plumbing in the affected area.

Thankfully, this gives me the opportunity to explore the option of finally becoming Hulk, or at least Hulk-like, which would be awesome. I will settle for ridding this trash from my body and getting on with my life.

I'm very blessed to have amazing, supportive, caring, and loving family and friends surrounding me throughout this ordeal, which has made it a lot easier to bear given that this has hard to process and emotionally manage at times. In addition, my employer has been monumentally supportive throughout this ordeal.

Part of the reason for this post is to provide folks with information on my state. I'll try to succinctly recap.

At the beginning of June I went into ER because I was jaundiced. Several scans later they found a cyst-like mass on my pancreas which was pushing on the common bile duct in the area, which was causing the jaundice as well as increasing ammonia in my blood level. I was admitted into the hospital and had two endoscopies: upper and then an ERCP, which involved putting a stent in the blocked duct to correct the symptoms caused by the mass. A week or so later I had another endoscopic procedure: an EUS, which involved running yet another scope into my stomach where they Hunt for Red Octobered my pancreas, found what they were looking for and totally fine-needle aspirated the mass (approx 4.2 cm partially cystic tumor: the tumor is approx 2cm) for a biopsy. The doctor afterward said that the preliminary indications were "abnormal", which they treat as cancer. He referred me to a surgeon, and I had to wait for the appointment. While waiting I met with an oncologist, with whom my sister-in-law used to work, who explained the various scenarios we'd face pending the results of the pathology. She explained what the chemo drugs were and what I could expect. The results came back from the biopsy, and the surgeon confirmed that he'd want to do chemo and radiation to clear up the margins around the mass, stop its growth, as well kill other microscopic cancerous encampments elsewhere in my body. The tumor has veins running through it, and needs to be shrunk before resecting. The surgeon indicated that it's Stage 3 cancer, and has likely been there for about a year and a half. I consider myself lucky that I was jaundiced and went to the ER where the medical staff detected it. Otherwise I could've been walking around for another year and a half, or longer, and then have it be much more serious.

Today I'm getting a PET scan, which involves putting radioactive glucose in my blood, and then doing a scan to check how the various cells in my body metabolize the sugar. Cancerous cells are hungrier (the little bastards), and can be differentiated from normal cells. This scan will tell whether the cancer is localized to my pancreas or if it's spread elsewhere in my body.

Tomorrow I start chemo and radiation.

Tomorrow I will see if I can acquire Hulk-like powers, which would be awesome.

I am getting consultations from Stanford and Johns Hopkins as well, and the surgeon I've seen thus far has performed more pancreatic surgeries to remove these kinds of tumors than any other doctor in the US. My oncologist is world class. All the doctors and medical staff I've seen thus far have pointed out that factors dramatically contributing to my survivability are my age, good health (aside from the little bastard jacking up my pancreas), and my attitude.

More important than anything, my wife has been by my side the entire time and an amazing rock for me, and family and friends are effusive with love and support. I'm eager to get this process rolling and kicking the shit out of this stupid cancer. I'm stronger than it.

I'll include more updates as we move on. If you know me, please feel free to contact me, and I would appreciate you not posting anything on Facebook (your pages or mine) relating to this.