Friday, July 13, 2012

The Silent Killer

Hi, folks. It's been a while since I blogged. A lot has happened to me in those weeks gone by and I thought it would be a good time to share with you.You see, I'm in a fight for my life.
I have pancreatic cancer, stage two. Found it by way of a 'lucky' break that almost killed me. My bile duct was blocked and I went severely jaundiced. My INR had shot to a point where some people bleed to death internally. I didn't bleed to death. The jaundice didn't kill me. The CT scan showed a dark spot on my pancreas and that almost scared me to death. The silent killer, it's called, because it often goes beyond the point of intervention before being detected. So, it was a lucky accident for me.
What happened next can only be described as a nightmare. A team of doctors and residents descended on my and my wife, all brimming with the details of how they would help me prepare to die. I am a person of faith in my God and when He calls, I'm ready to go. However, I haven't heard Gabriela's trumpet call, or the fat lady singing, for that matter. So, when the cheery oncologist appeared eager to disseminate statistic of gloomy nature, we ordered her out of the room.
I had lost quite a bit of weight due to my inability to eat regularly, and then an extended stay in the hospital where I got mostly broth and clear liquids for over a week. The weight loss had nothing to do with the cancer, it seems. We hobbled me home and sat in a muddle for days, waiting for some guidance on what to do. Because I'd rejected that original team's sage advice, I was on my own.
Well, not quite. My wife Patricia is a fighter, and she was fighting mad. She began to research what other options I might have available. Her search paid off. Right in Kansas City, a few miles from the other (unnamed) hospital, she found Menorah. And a procedure they call Cyber-knife, a non-invasive high tech form of radiation that shows high success rates for treating cancers.
Short story, she called, they invited us to present our previous records, a team met and discussed my case, and they came up with a protocol for dealing with my cancer.We're now several weeks into the chemo-radiation sequence that will reduce the tumor and make it possible to remove surgically. My scheduled date for surgery is in September. It will keep my in hospital for up to two weeks,, and a slow recovery at home. But, if they are successful, I will be cancer-free and able to stay on the planet a bit longer than Team A (I have a name for that letter but I won't use it here) had predicted.
If they are not successful, at least we tried. No worse than lying in a bed, waiting to die, hoping to die. In the meantime, I am continuing to write and publish as though I have another decade ahead of me. It's the only way I know to live, and I'm content in the knowledge that we're doing everything possible to beat this 'death' sentence.
And that's my message today in a nutshell. If you find yourself in the situation I'm in, get that second opinion unless you're happy with the first one. There are options, and sometimes the 'recognized' cancer center leader is not the leader at all except in a political sense. That was the case in Kansas City. They have a wonderful collection of doctors and specialists whose motto is 'we can beat this thing'. God willing and with their help, I'm going to beat this thing. Cheers, all!
Pat Dale