One year ago this month, I was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. Stage 4 means the cancer originated in one place (my liver) and has metastasized to other areas in my body. I have lesions in my lungs and a thrombosis (tumor and blood clotting) that extends from the tumor on my liver, up my inferior vena cava and into my heart. As Bill Murray in Caddy Shack would say…”so, I got that going for me”. Obviously it has been an intense year with the most intense being the first month (April 2019). These are a few of the “high” lights:
- After the diagnosis and the biopsy I came close to internally bleeding to death
- I was told if this had not been caught, I would have died by June or July of 2019
- Once I was stable and the treatment began, I was told that I had, optimistically, 2 to 3 years to live
- I would never be able to say that I was cancer free
- The medication used for treatment turned me into a type 1 diabetic for the rest of my life
- And, just for good measure, I had a heart attack earlier this month.
However, not all is doom and gloom. There is some sunshine to be had:
- The heart attack resulted in a couple of more stents and my heart should now be tuned up and, hopefully, ready for another 60 years!
- The treatment has been successful in treating the cancer. The thrombosis and tumor has remained about the same size but the lesions in my lungs have gotten smaller!
- April 2019 was no fun but beyond that I have not felt much ill effect from the disease and/or the treatment. I remain active with my “honey-do’s” around the house and even sneak out to go fishing every now and then.
- When I last asked my oncologist for an update on my projected life span, He laughingly said…I don’t know! You are now into unchartered waters! He calls me the unicorn as none of the medical staff expected this type of success!
- In spite of his comment early on about never becoming cancer free, he now says he can map out a way to become cancer free. He acknowledges it is a long shot but it’s a shot.
So the road ahead is as follows…I won’t be getting anymore of the immunotherapy treatment due to the side effects I have encountered unless something changes. This will determine if my body’s immune system, on its own, has the upper hand and will continue to diminish the size of all the cancer tissue. I will be scanned 2 or 3 times over the summer to see what is going on with the untreated cancer. (I just hope we are not taking our foot off the cancers neck and letting it up off the mat!) If all goes like we hope, the cancer will continue to dwindle and at some point early fall, surgically remove the tumor and the thrombosis and let the lesions in my lungs disappear at some point. As I mentioned above, this is a long shot and the game plan is subject to change depending on how things develop.
So from this point forward (at least until fall), no news is good news. Don’t get restless if you haven’t seen an update in a while. There won’t be a need for an update report if things go per plan. James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.