The next 6 months…

I met with Dr. Kauh (my oncologist here in Atlanta) today and we have a post-surgical plan. Next week, I will have a re-staging CT and additional blood work that will serve as the new baseline regarding my cancer. The following week (9/17), I will begin chemotherapy (Gemcitabine, a.k.a., Gemzar) to attempt to kill any of the left over cancer cells. If you will recall, there were cancer cells left on the mesenteric artery (positive margin) and in some of the lymph nodes that were extracted. Dr. Kauh did say it was “troubling” that there were cancer cells left after the surgery (though, I think he was simply saying that he – and I – would have preferred that no detectable cancer cells had been left).

Thus, starting in two weeks, I will go into the hospital once a week for about 2 hours to get my chemotherapy. I’ll do this for 3-weeks and then have a week off. After 6 months, I’m done. Dr. Kauh said at that point, we cross our fingers and hope the cancer doesn’t come back. He said it’s possible that if the cancer comes back we may be able to discuss an additional surgery (depending on where the cancer presents itself), but that we would worry about that if it happens. We’re being (trying to be) positive at the moment — at the moment, it seems harder than usual, but it may be because I’m tired.

I did receive good news from my father; the results of his latest CT came back negative. As I have said, I really (REALLY) hope that I got the hearty Hamburger (anti-cancer) genes that my father seems to have.

In other news, when I got to the hospital today, I was told that I had to go see a “resource counselor.” Now, I briefly thought that perhaps this meant that there was someone who was going to talk to me about what resources I had / needed to help me and my family deal with my cancer. HA! Instead, “resource counselor” is code name for financial dude who wanted to know why I (or my insurance) had not paid some bills. (Silly me for thinking that the counselor was going to try and help me.) In the end, the counselor forwarded the issue onto the department at Emory that deals with insurance issues.  We’ll see what happens.

Finally, I went to a pancreas cancer support group at Winship Cancer Center this evening.  I was expecting the group to be primarily composed of 60+ folk, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The group was a good mixture of younger and older folk, many of whom had recently been diagnosed (e.g., diagnosed in 2008) and had had the Whipple procedure.  Several other folk were multi-year (3+ years) survivors, which was very nice to hear.  It was difficult, however, to listen to the stories of two of the gentlemen in the group, whose cancer had already metastasized, so they were not eligible for surgery.  Instead, theirs was a life of palliative care, trying to extend their lives as long as possible.  I can only imagine how hard it must have been for them to listen to the rest of us talk about the difficulties of life recovering from surgery.  All in all, I am looking forward to going back to the group next month and to getting to know the others in the group over the next several months.

More tomorrow.

Merle