Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not The News I Wanted To Bring You

"This isn't the news I wanted to bring you.", said the surgeon on Thursday morning, and I knew then what the biopsy report contained.

She had in her hand, or at least on her computer screen, the pathology results from my recent bioposy. Unfortunately the results confirmed the opinion of the doctor who performed the biopsy, my esophageal cancer has metastasized to the bones of my pelvis and spine.

This result means my cancer is no longer "curable". Is, in fact, inoperable. Indeed, as Dr. Darling, put it, the results meant my life expectancy was significantly less than 5 years (at best), a matter of months (at worst). She could make no more precise estimate.

I am no longer a candidate for surgery, given that my cancer had escaped my esophagus and that I am no longer curable.

I am, however, still treatable. As the Medical oncologist pointed out at our meeting with her on Friday morning, I am treatable in the sense that I am still a candidate for radiation therapy and chemotherapy to reduce the discomforts of the disease's progression and control the rate of the spread of the disease in order to, possibly, prolong my life. I could even go into remission, although with very aggressive cancers, like esophageal, remissions are seldom lengthy.

When I think of all the prayers and good wishes that have come my way over the past seven months, I feel, perversely, that I have let you down. Or, at least, my body has. Few ordinary people have had the benefit of the extraordinary outpouring of support I have received from, literally, around the world. I wanted a different outcome for you as well as me.

I know this all seems depressing, and (trust me) I am profoundly saddened by the news, but there are alternative approaches; there are websites filled with stories of those who are still alive decades after being given the same "incurable" prognosis. So Linda and I are embarking, more forcefully, on an "anti-cancer" lifestyle that will, hopefully, give me more time.

I don't want to leave you and I do want to be here for a long time yet, much more than the (less than) 5 years Dr. Darling has given me. I have an appointment with the radiation oncologist next Friday and will be receiving another CT scan on October 9th, for them to measure the rate of progression of the disease.

I want to assure you that I am feeling extremely well, eating comfortably, sleeping the night through, exercising daily, meditating, in good spirits, (well, alright, there have been some tough moments) and actively involved in talking with family and friends. Friday was my newest granddaughter, Hailey's, first birthday and we are getting together with our family to celebrate today at my daughter's home.

It will be a good day. One to treasure.