Just another average sunset in paradise!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Six months of news in one post!

Dear Followers:

Some of you have emailed asking about my lack of posting.  I don't like to include anything negative in my blog so I have delayed covering this topic until I knew most of the facts and found them to be more positive than negative!

I developed a growth on one of the many bald places on the top of my head and returned to the states in September for medical treatment and have been staying with my brother Rick and his family for six months now.

After removal of the lesion from the top of my head and lab analysis, it turned out to be a not-so-good form of cancer prompting further tests.  After completing all of the latest and greatest tests available, all they found was a tumor on the back of my tongue and involvement of the lymph nodes in my neck.  That is all the bad news!  

Absolutely no other cancer in my entire body.  I was surprised as I have been a smoker and heavy drinker for 50 years!  All of my blood work, xrays, ekgs, etc. surprised the doctors and they said that my results were more fitting to someone 20 years younger.  Rather than take that as a recommendation to continue smoking and drinking, I started on Chantix to quit smoking an am happy to report I have just completed my third week smokeless.  I have not quit drinking but have cut down to only one or two cocktails a week!
Good news is that I lucked into one of the premier cancer treatment centers west of the Mississippi, CBCC Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (Bakersfield, CA)  which is affiliated with UCLA.  Rather than surgery, they elected to treat my cancer with chemo and radiation.  My last treatments are on April 3rd completing a 7 week M-F schedule .  More good news is that all three specialists who are treating me agree that I am doing much better than expected and they give a 90% estimate that the treatment will be 100% successful!  The "average" news is that I will not know for sure until mid-July as they have to wait 3 months after treatment to do a full body PET scan to make sure all of the cancer is gone.

The normal side effects of chemo and radiation are (in no particular order): Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, constipation, diarrhea (don't know why they always list these two together), fatigue, insomnia, and trouble swallowing.  Since my radiation is being applied only to the throat and neck we get to add:  Sore throat, loss of taste buds, blisters on skin where radiation is applied, dry mouth, change in saliva, more trouble swallowing (many patients have to have a feeding tube), weight loss, change of voice, and several others I am probably forgetting.

My side effects have been limited to: A change in taste buds which makes all food taste pretty bland; some irritation of the skin on my neck (similar to a severe sun burn), minor pain at the site of the tumor and insomnia (as I recall, I have always had insomnia).  So, all things considered, I am going through the treatment like a walk in the park. 

I could and would return to Aticama the second week of April but my little brother is having knee replacement surgery on April 16th and I will stay as long as needed to help with his recovery!   According to the docs, that may not take too long so I may be back home by mid-May, returning to the USA only for testing about every 4 months (with a visit at my brother's home as an added bonus).

Next post April 17th after my exit examinations by three specialists.  Wish me luck!