I thought I would take this opportunity to provide a recap for people who are just now getting the news of my cancer. For those faithful readers that already know all of this, bear with me. :)
In mid-April, I started to notice my belly getting larger. This isn't the first time this has happened to a 30 year-old, but after I grew out of a new suit in a week, I knew something was wrong. I went to the emergency room and quickly discovered that my abdomen was filling with fluid. Days of tests confirmed that the fluid and all my organs were normal, and no explanation could be found for the fluid.
I had a malignant mole (Melanoma) removed from my back about 6 years ago. I have returned to MD Anderson every six months since for checkups and have not had a problem since. I returned to MD Anderson with my new problem of excess fluid and after an exploratory surgery (via Laparoscopy), Cancer was determined to be the cause.
My peritoneum had developed a covering of Melanoma cells. This is important to understand. The cancer is Melanoma (skin cancer, the same type I had on my back), but it is located inside my body. This means that the cancer mad moved or metastasized. This is generally bad news, and makes my cancer stage 4 (out of 4).
I started chemotherapy at MD Anderson immediately. I have been in and out of the hospital for chemo treatments for the last three months, with periods of feeling good and periods of feeling horrible.
I start my fourth treatment tomorrow as an outpatient. I will take outpatient chemo for 4 days and then go into the hospital for the remainder of my treatment. This will take 5-7 days. After that treatment I will go home to rest for 2-3 weeks before another treatment.
So, how is the treatment working? It is hard to say. Usually, they do a CAT scan, see a big tumor and measure it before and after treatment cycles. The doctors can then say "your tumor has shrunk by 20%; the treatment is effective." With me, my cancer is not visible to X-Rays or CAT scans because it is so thin. The doctors have been watching my fluid buildup in my abdomen as a gauge for how the treatment is working.
Until recently, there was no change in the amount of fluid filling my belly. Since my last treatment though, the fluid has almost stopped filling my belly. I take this as a very good sign.
I have also been feeling great. I remarked to Jennifer on Sunday that I felt normal this weekend. It is an awesome feeling. This too, I take as a good sign.
The only way to know for sure how the treatment is working is to open me up and do another exploratory surgery. The doctors have been talking about doing this after my next treatment. Look for news along this line in about a month (2 weeks of treatment + 2 weeks of rest, then surgery).
Well, there it is. It might have been quicker just to read 3 months worth of posts!
Feel free to email me with questions regarding my treatment or just to chat. You have all been so wonderful and supportive, and are a big factor in my (fingers crossed) recovery. Love you all.
Death to Cancer