The Beginning…

The Beginning 2

December 31, 2015

This first post of the documentation of my cancer treatments will begin with a little background as to how I arrived at this point.  Let me begin by telling you that I have severe heart disease in a variety of styles and colors and this has been somewhat of a problematic factor in the treatment of the cancer.

In the summer of 2013, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in the lymph nodes in the left side of my neck and at the base of the tongue.  I was informed that neither of these were likely to be the primary source of the cancer, but that source could not be located.  My first reaction to the results was “Huh?”… You must have me confused with someone else.  I believe you’re reading someone else’s report… I couldn’t possibly have cancer.  I’m the one with all kinds of heart disease… but, no… I don’t have cancer………  The universe surely isn’t that cruel to one single individual…  I was wrong.  I was given a prognosis of twelve months… I was informed of this by a letter through the mail… real personal.

Due to the extensiveness of the heart disease it was concluded that my state of health was too critical to endure surgical procedures to attempt to remove the growths and too weak to endure chemotherapy.  The only option remaining was radiation.  I was engaged in an eight week program that required radiation of the neck and head nearly every day during that period.  A few months after treatment… in the winter of 2014, a partial CT scan was done (partial meaning only of the neck area… due to cost… co-pays on this crap are ridiculous) and indicated that the cancer had been ‘reduced’ in those areas but still lingered.

The effects of those treatments on my physical and mental being will probably make their way into this journal at some point, but for now I’ll stay with what is going on currently.  On December 10, 2015 I was given a full PET scan.  For those of you who wonder… PET stands for positron emission tomography.  They inject you with radioactive isotopes that are used in injectable radiopharmaceuticals which are positron emitters.  Cancer cells absorb the isotopes at a faster rate than normal cells, so they glow when viewed in a PET scan.  I know… blah, blah, blah…  Who wants to hear about the technical details?  Well… actually… I like to know every single detail I can pry out of the medical staff.  They probably call me ‘Mr. Wants to Know it All’… I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes the medical professionals don’t want to take the time to explain all the little details to you… but my radiology oncologist is just the opposite.  She will take all the time you desire for her to answer every single un-normal question that Mr. Wants to Know… wants to know in detail… I am lucky to have found her.  She has wonderful patience with her patients.  

On December 15, 2015 I received the results of the scan…

Impression:  New pulmonary nodule posteriorly at the right lung base with an SUV of 6.6 suspicious for either a new primary lung malignancy or metastatic disease.

They are not certain whether the previous cancer has traveled into the lung or if it is a different type of cancer all together.  A biopsy of the lung to determine the type is deemed too dangerous for me to have.  The risk involved with a lung biopsy is… that often… the lung will collapse… and in my case would be too high of a risk because it puts addition stress on the heart.

The normal procedure to follow after the results I received would be to biopsy the growth to determine the type of cancer and then surgery to remove it, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  But… of course… I have to be the ‘un-normal’…

On December 28, 2015, I went for a CT scan to help determine the exact position of the problem child in my right lung.  I am now temporarily tattooed with three black crosses on my mid-section.  Three is one of my good numbers of course… and crosses… well… hopefully they are a good sign… I suppose black crosses could go either way.  The marks are to help align the radiography equipment to zap me in exactly the right position in order to cause as little damage to nearby organs as possible.  That part is a little scary… I have enough problems in the mid-section and don’t need anything new to be fried like they did to my throat, larynx, and taste buds during the first radiation treatments.  I’ve suffered with numerous throat and lymph problems since then and sometimes they definitely make me a little weary.

Yesterday… December 30,2015, I headed to the radiology oncologist for positioning and alignment of the equipment.

Welcome to my world…

Results of that appointment was 30 minutes of lying very still on a cold table with my arms over my head, watching the big machine go back and forth across me while taking xrays.  I don’t do well with my arms over my head.  My heart doesn’t do well with my arms over my head, but that is the way I will have to be… during all upcoming treatments.

I am now the proud owner of nine crosses across my midsection and I think… three small tattoos as permanent markers to align the zapper gadget.

It was a long day.  I was very tired.  Hopefully a little sleep will help.

Thanks to all who dropped by and suffered with me through this first post.  I hope a few of you will follow along with me, to discover just how radiation therapy and dealing with cancer affects the individual physically. mentally and emotionally…  I know that there are many of you suffering with many different illnesses, pain… physical, mental and emotional stress… abuse… and even worse encounters that we as human beings must find ways to endure.  I hope that this site will help you to know that you are not alone in your suffering… in your trials and tribulations… in your search for hope.

There is so much more to the emotional affects of cancer and dealing with the treatments that are necessary to just stay alive… But there is something that will stay with you through the entire journey if you have a strong enough will to survive… and that is “The Vision of Hope”…

Life is like that, the dust and the dirt
And the liquids that blend with the soul…
We’re never really sure
Of the rhymes or the reasons
While fitting the parts to the whole

Welcome to my journey

Michael33

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43 thoughts on “The Beginning…

  1. Wow well here we are. I don’t know what to say and I want to say something so I will share this. I believe that there is such a grace that covers someone when they suffer with illness that they are not aware that their light shines like a beacon to others who also suffer. I think not only do you give hope but also you will receive it. I think experiences like this are like that, like a hug that keeps giving. So that’s what I’ll say here’s a big hug. My friend Laurie would say my arms reach out to hold us both. I love that so I’ll say that to you! I’m still smiling! 😀 Good job Michael! I loved it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh Michael, I just read your post. I’m so sorry. For what you’ve had to go through and are currently going through. You are in my heart.

    You know, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you through your writings that it pains me to hear that you are suffering. Thank you for being strong and for having the courage to share your life with us. Big hug.

    -phoebe

    Liked by 2 people

    • Phoebe… thank you so very much. My journey seems to me to be no where near as difficult as those who care about someone with cancer. I know that you must deal with those for whom you care about every day who are suffering. I have learned of your magnificent compassion and I know that it cannot be an easy journey for you. The hardest part of all of this is seeing what it does to those who care about you. I’ve been on both sides… watching someone you care about… having to deal with this illness and all its circumstances is worse than having the disease itself. I truly don’t know how you do it, but I find great admiration and appreciation for all that you do to help others… Thank you for letting me linger in your heart… while I linger in your hug…
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So sad to hear of all of your suffering. I struggle too and have for a long time. I hope the treatments are a success and you have a good attitude. You’re a veteran. I prayed for you today and will keep praying. From one who has beaten the odds more than once to someone who seems to have done the same, there’s more to it than science. Hope is powerful medicine. Be blessed. (First, I visited your blog again to read your beautiful poem to my husband.:0) And then checked in here…be well.)

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    • Hi Pam… I knew we had a lot in common… It seems that those of us who have struggled somehow find our way to others who have had similar experiences. Your light seems to shine so brightly that many of us are drawn to its compassion and brilliance. I am honored to have your prayers with me and know that we share the ‘knowing’ that hope is so very powerful.

      I want you to know that you have brightened my entire being by letting me know that you read my poem to your husband. I can’t think of a better compliment to anything I have written than to have someone enjoy it enough to want to share it with someone they love… and I thank you with all my heart.

      I hope your life and love are filled with beautiful poetry…

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • I just spent some time with two friends, one who had both cancer and heart surgery, first the heart surgery, followed fast by the cancer, I appreciate more how hard it must have been for her partner to care for her. She, the partner, told me that after seeing her love wheeled in for the surgery, she went to the parking garage and vomited, pissed and shat all over herself, all at once and totally unexpected.. She had been “holding it in” for months. My best wishes to both of you, and your carers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • They are both still healing. I am moved by your blog, and your friend’s. As we age, these experiences increase, and hearing the experience articulated so well is a gift. Good luck and good health to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Vellissima… Thank you so very much for dropping by and sharing your experience with us. As I have often noted… I think that it is more difficult for the ones who care for the cancer patient than it is for the ones with the illness. I think that this probably true for most serious illnesses, injuries and even in cases of abuse. Heart surgery and cancer are both devastating circumstances and everyone deals with them in different ways… both the patient and the carers. I’ve been on both sides of the story and neither are easy to deal with. You know from experience that being a true and caring friend to those who are suffering can also take its toll on your emotions and even your physical wellness. Please know that there are many of us who truly care about others who often find themselves so unexpectedly in the position of dealing with such devastating news. I am so glad that you found your way here and shared a part of your life with us. Please hug your friends for me and know that you are in my thoughts.
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael, just recently I found your friend Mark’s blog -fonzandcancer. He reblogged this post. I know there are so many things I could say, but I have not had cancer. I have dealt with many tragedies in my life, but not cancer. I will say, that every day you challenge cancer and you survive is a victory for you. Cancer can touch your body, but not your soul. You find how strong you are, when you have cancer, because you have no choice other than to be strong. I have lost 4 immediately family members to dementia and was a caregiver for my brother with dementia who died 3 months ago. Life is so hard, so full of trials and tribulations, so sorrowful at times. There’s a quote by Franklin Roosevelt – “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Thats truly all we can do. I have great compassion for every person who is suffering. I have been praying for Mark every morning before I begin my day and I will be praying for you every day Michael. I saw prayer work when I almost lost my husband to menigitis 3 years ago (doctors gave up, but he survived) and I saw prayer work for a young man with menigitis last year. God has compassion and the power to help your overcome cancer. God bless you and I commend you for your courage. Liz

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you dropped by and although you have not had cancer… you managed to say just the right things. You have dealt with dementia… which to me is one of the most difficult of diseases to deal with especially with someone you care so much about. It is so emotionally draining to have to watch that disease progress when there is really very little that anyone can do to stop it.
      Like you… I have had to tie that knot in the end of the rope on many occasions but it seems we find a way to pull ourselves up the rope… at least enough to keep our heads above the water line.
      I’m so glad to know that you have found Mark and his blog. He has become quite a good friend, although we are bound by circumstance to be friends within this black and white world… it hasn’t deterred either of us from the comfort of knowing that there is another who inspires us and cares about us. He has faced great odds and yet still finds so many ways to reach his hand out for to many, many others.

      I also know that prayer works in many different ways and I do so appreciate you including me in yours. It appears that God has blessed you and your husband in many ways as well and I love stories of those who have beaten the odds. I wish you both wellness and happiness and many beautiful moments…

      Hug your husband for me and thank him for being one who believes in the power of hope.

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • I appreciate your comments Michael. Especially when I know you have had no sleep, are in pain, and suffering so much. My Mother (who died with dementia) use to say, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” About 8 months before she died she told me she was weaking. I hug my husband every day and I will tell him, you sent him a hug. Be well Michael, and pet those cats for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael my heart goes out to you, what a story you have told. Sending you lots of good vibes and hugs xx this is from one of my CS members. CS stands for Cancer stories ( people helping people through experience) please join us on Face book Michael…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Fonz… Thanks for the ‘good vibes and hugs’… I do good to keep up with wordpress and sometimes do a pretty sorry job of that, so I don’t really do much of anything else online… but I will most definitely check it out… and thanks for the invitation. I would love reading some of the stories. I so hope you had a decent Wednesday and since it is very late where you are… i will wish you pleasant sleep and wonderfully entertaining dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Michael, what a story you’ve told. My heart goes out to you. I send lots of hugs to you. My husband has been on a long journey and fight against cancer. Primary tumour in the bowel with a few secondaries in his liver. After 6 chemo sessions, 2 major operations, 3 bile stents and on his 2nd of 6 final chemo we seem to be getting there. I realise your journey us much more complicated, but try to have faith although this is difficult for you. I send you my very best wishes. Anne xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • My goodness Anne… what a struggle for you and your husband. You say that my journey is more complicated but to me… mine seems so much simpler. Of course my options are limited as to treatment so I deal mainly with radiation, positive thinking and hope. So far… that has made the difference in my survival. I can’t imagine having to go through all that the two of you have had to do.
      I hope that those final chemo treatments will indeed bring you the hope of many more beautiful moments together… Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing a part of your life with us. There are many who are touched by stories such as yours and helps to shine a light upon their own darkness. Thank you Anne…
      Michael

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  7. Michael, have you researched any unconventional doctors? There are more ways to address cancer then just conventional medicine. My Heart just so goes out to you for you have been through so much and now going through even more. I am sending you BIG (((HUGS))) and LOTS OF LOVE …. Amy ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good evening Amy… To answer your question… I am at the mercy of the VA and of Medicare. There is no unconventional wisdom to be found within either of those organizations. The VA abandoned me when I requested outside the VA medical care and Medicare will only partially cover even the conventional treatment. I do hear of things that others are trying with success stories from many, but most all have a great cost and travel associated with them. The radiation was reasonably successful the first time around and I’m sure that it will again benefit my health in the long term, but I think my greatest asset is positive thinking and the will to continue sharing the light and love with as many wonderful human beings as I can. Thank you for being one of those.

      Thank you for the hugs and the love… It is truly amazing how much that brightens one’s spirit.
      I hope your day brings you much love and many hugs…

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your story is unfortunately only too frequent a story for so many other people. I am SO sorry you had to go through so much! I pray for your recovery and I pray it is soon. I don’t know if you would be interested but my sister today gave me the title of a book she is reading on cancer. This book is all about alternatives for cancer. The title is “Cancer Step Outside The Box” by Tym Bollinger. (I think that is the correct author’s name) If you are not interested that is OK. IMO you cannot be over educated when it comes to cancer especially how the medical field is today. Many (((HUGS))) and much LOVE to you, dear Michael, Amy ❤

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    • Thank you Syl65… Thanks for the good day wishes. A good day is when I can get out of bed in the morning and make my way to the coffee pot and find encouraging comments waiting for me to read. Thank you for bringing that about this morning.
      Wishing you a great day as well… Thanks for dropping by.
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Micheal
    The Fonzmark included you in his blog today which is how I came to read your blog. One hell of a journey you have been and are on. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way and a huge hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Pauline. I’m glad to know that you are familiar with Fonzmark’s story. His journey and my journey are quite different in so many ways and yet so similar in others. Our stories have caused our paths to cross and brought a new friendship into my life that I am very grateful for. Thank you for dropping by and it is those positive thoughts that so beautifully heal…
      Hope your day is most beautiful…
      Michael

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    • Thank you Andie… I know you will understand when I say that I can feel the strength, the warmth, and the caring that you and Mark send to me so generously… Sending the same to you with hugs and hope…
      Michael

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  9. Such beautiful photographs at the start of your blog, I was reading Fonz and thought I’d drop by! I hope you are feeling much better?
    This is a shout out from the west coast of Vancouver.Isl. BC,Canada!!

    Like

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