6 Years with Cancer
6 years ago today, I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer.
It started with a few months of what felt like indigestion until one day I ballooned up. Went to see my doctor who told me there was nothing he could do, I needed a battery of tests and should go to the ER immediately.
Within 30 minutes of being admitted to the ER, I was having my first CT scan where they discovered a large mass in my colon.
I finally got to start on my first round of chemo, which lasted about 2 ½ years.
I responded well. The tumors found in my liver almost disappeared, but I was getting too toxic; I had to stop chemo for a while. It didn't take long for the tumors to come back with a vengeance, which led to more chemo and liver surgery.
The surgeon was able to remove most of the liver tumors which led to more chemo until I started developing tumors in my stomach lining.
The trial comprised of a regiment of standard chemotherapy plus a couple of cancer and immunotherapy drugs that are generally not given to patients with my type of cancer.
I did well for a year; experienced some tumors reduction until I started developing some serious bleeding which turned to anemia. I had to stop the chemo portion of the treatment. Amazingly my tumors kept shrinking to the point of partial remission.
I completed the trial after 2 years, hoping I could continue on the same drugs regiment.
The trial drugs are insanely expensive. My insurance company will not cover them as they are not approved to treat my type of cancer. The trial sponsors sometimes allow participants to keep using the trial drugs, but not in my case. Thankfully, there are compassionate care programs offered by manufacturers to receive drugs for free.
I applied and was just approved.
I'm having another CT scan next week, and if everything checks out I will resume taking the drugs soon.
Cancer treatment is a rollercoaster of good and bad news. There are myriads of side-effects, tests, doctor visits, surgeries, etc. It's not easy at first, but after a while It slowly becomes your new normal as a professional patient.
For the technicalities that only colon cancer survivors will understand: