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.


Cathy Reaves said...

While you are hulking it up, let me bring some food for ya all. Will be in touch.

Mike Teeling said...

All good things to you, my brother. Nothing but admiration for retaining your sense of humor in all this. Cruel irony is the best medicine!

I was wondering about helping you to locate the best oncologist for you. We do have a mutual friend who works in the research labs of UCSF (that's Mr. Balls to you!) LMK if or when you need to pull the trigger on that.

Best of luck and science to you, and much love from your Poobs.

Hulk Smash!!

SherryFredrick said...

You know we are all here for you and your family my friend. As you know, we went through 3 months of chemo just 6 years ago, and I have a few things tucked in my arsenal that made it tolerable. During chemo, I had Scott eat toast before he went to bed. It made it so he could sleep though the night without feeling queasy in the middle of the night. Sounds strange, but it worked. Also, he liked Mac n Cheese quite a bit during chemo. I infused it with evaporated milk for extra nutrients and calcium. If not allergic to milk, might be good. Will pass along other nuggets as I remember them. So much love to you and your beautiful strong family. I am sending you serious strength and fighting energy!

SherryFredrick said...

We are sending you so much love and fighting energy my friend. When Scotty did his 3 months of chemo 6 years ago, I had him eat toast before he went to bed and this made it so he wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night queasy. Also, he liked Mac n Cheese quite a bit during chemo. I infused it with a bit of powdered milk for extra nutrients and calcium. Might be something to consider if you are not allergic to milk. Also, you might want to take movies to watch with you while you are doing the chemo because you will get bored. Will contribute more nuggets as I remember them. Kick its ass Jeremy. Give it hell. Imagine your body and the treatment killing those cancer cells and getting it out of your body.

Love, the Fredricks

lkgove said...

Go Westley go! You have Inigo, Fezzik and the rest of us right behind you.