We were called in early on Monday for our results, which we knew was a bad sign. We were right. Seth is Stage 4. The tumor has taken main residence in his colon, as we knew, but it’s also push up and into his prostate and his bladder. The cancer has also gotten into his lymphatic system and new tumors are now growing in his liver and his lung. Dr. Williams suggested an immediate colostomy because he fears the size of the tumor will cause it to seal off his colon completely as it grows. While not at all a pleasant idea, it will allow for Seth to eat and regain some of the nutrition and strength he’s been losing consistently. His surgery is March 16th. So is my birthday. I told the doctor as much and made sure he understood that in no uncertain terms was he to kill my husband during surgery. He assured me that it was a fairly simple procedure that should only take about an hour.
I was not assured.
I do trust him, however, and while none of us are exactly looking forward to this next stage, at least Seth will regain some of the comfort he’s lost lately. Hopefully.
I won’t lie. It felt like a death sentence. In fact, as I vibrated with shock and nausea, my initial thought was how I might create a quick passage for myself if Seth didn’t make it. I honestly can’t envision a life without him no matter how hard I try. I held my husband’s hand as the news flooded over us and didn’t understand what we’d done to have all of our dreams stripped away from us in a single afternoon.
Later that day I took my frustration out on a bitchy, judgmental pharmacist at the Walgreens near our house. She treated my husband like a drug addict when we went to pick up his pain meds. The names I called her were not ladylike, but very appropriate, I assure you.
There was a lot of quiet and a lot of tears that night. I went to Bar to try and take my mind off of it, but I honestly don’t remember the class. I do remember Jenny, the owner, telling me that she wanted to host an event for us to help us pay for some of our medical bills. I was floored and so very grateful. Seth cried that night when I told him. He’s still trying to get used to be loved so much.
More light peeked through the clouds the next day when we met our oncologist, Dr. Weaver, and the research assistant Julie Hahn at Florida Cancer Specialists. They were both very positive people, very thorough and very sympathetic.We were offered a clinical trial, which we’ll start once Seth heals from his surgery next week. We’ll have a barrage of tests between now and his first round of chemo, which should be in about 6 weeks.
They are putting him on Oxalyplatin and 5FU (ironic), which is apparently together called Folfox. They’ll add to that Avastin, which works differently from the chemo meds in that it specifically targets newly formed blood vessels, which should cut off the tumor’s blood supply and cause it to shrink. They put him on faraheme, an iron IV, to boost his hemoglobins, since they are so low. They said there are plenty of ways to manage the side effects and that in 8-12 treatments, each of them 2 weeks apart, we can discuss the next steps. This will include surgery to remove what is left of the tumor and probably additional chemo and radiation.
We have a very long road ahead and it’s not going to be an easy one. We’re trying to focus one step at a time. Next step is a PET scan and more faraheme on Tuesday and then Wednesday is the surgery. He’ll be in the hospital for 2-3 days and then at home recovering for several more. He’ll need to get used to the colostomy bag, which we’re all dreading, but plenty of people live with them, right? No matter how many people tell us that, for some reason it doesn’t make the thought any simpler to digest. Still, as a dear friend said, our bodies default setting is ‘alive’ so we just have to keep it that way.