On July 5, 2018 I woke up fat, happy, healthy (I thought) with an appointment at noon to get the results of the tests that I had undergone for the previous three months (since March). I was looking forward to a month off at home – relaxing, visiting with friends, a couple of concerts – you know; having a life.
Sitting in the Hospital office with the Doctor – it started with: ‘You have a rare and aggressive form of Cancer; called a Plasmablastic Lymphoma tumour. It is malignant and located near your pelvis (in my gut) – it has penetrated your colon as well; causing an obstruction. It it in-operable due to the proximity to your urinary track and because it’s lodging in the intestine.”
I asked: “So, what does that mean in terms of life expectancy?”, “Well”, he replied; “Without Chemo – you have about three months.”
The floor dropped out from under me. I was looking at Mel’s face – she also was stunned! My first thought was; I can’t do everything I want to do in three months. Then I started thinking about the people I cared about; family, clients, friends that I’d never see again… Talk about a rush of blood to your head.
“Chemo, what’s the story?” I asked; “Well, we recommend a series of six treatments – beginning immediately (like Sunday – it was Thursday). We are going to treat this very aggressively. The series will be three weeks each; one week in Hospital and two weeks of observation, blood tests and additional injections.”
Four hours later I was inducted into the Borg Collective (Star Trek reference) – they inserted a tube into a vein in my arm that ends up over my heart to better deliver the drugs (good news – eliminates constant needles). But, I’ve got a tube dangling outside my body that is very, very weird!
I’d say this was the worst day of my life – to be told that you have only three months to live. In the same breath it has been a serious godsend. It makes you realise what is most important in your life – it gives you the chance to tell those you love how you feel – it gives you time to plan your demise or to plan to live. I choose to plan to live! All I want is a minimum of four more years to finish what I want to do and see. When I can celebrate the New Years Eve of 22/23 – I will take each and every day as a cause for celebration, because every day I wake up in this world (no matter the worlds’ political, economic, violence, whatever) – it’s better than the unknown of death (actually; no-one really knows – but, I’ll stick with what I know.)
I made the decision to try the Chemo for two sessions (which was half of my life expectancy). This was based on the precept that I would have another Pet Scan to determine whether or not I would continue (if there were results) or whether I was going to decline and just live my remaining life to the best of my ability.
Fast forward through two series of Chemo. The day I was released from the Hospital from the second series I suffered a setback with a double whammy of diarrhea and constipation that resulted in an emergency re-entrance to the Hospital the next day. My abdomen and stomach were bloated and I was in a great deal of discomfort (that rapidly escalated into pain.) Basically, my bowels were backed up from my Rectum to my Stomach (If you read a previous post I wrote; 44 years ago I had another operation that removed the Ileal Secal valve [the valve between the large and small intestine]). After hours of observation (not many Doctors working on Saturday) I was taken to get an X-ray that was inconclusive. This is when we got worried – the Doctor said to call in the Surgical Team just after midnight – this resulted in a CT Scan to determine where they should cut. I immediately thought; ‘Great, I’m going to die on the Operating Table because: I’m full of shit!’
Down to Scan – back to room – wait two hours. Somewhere around four AM – the Doctor materialised and says: “Good news – it seems that the tumour has been reduced by a minimum of 30% and it seems to have backed out of the intestine and is no longer causing a blockage. It’s all feces. Now we just have to remove that.”
What a relief (even though I’m now on my third dose of Morphine). Later in the day they tried a massive doe of laxative – no joy! Next day they tried an even bigger dose – no joy! Finally, on the third day the dam broke and ensuring that I was well hydrated – I was finally released. Two days later – working with long-term clients at Mill House (very tiring – but fulfilling and time consuming). I will admit to feeling very weak and I did need a break or two during the day.
I was hoping for the Pet Scan before I met with the Doctor on Thursday the 16th of August – unfortunately it was postponed until the next day. So, I have had to wait until Thursday the 23rd of August. The Doctor did say that based on the 30% reduction that the CT Scan showed resulted in an increase in Life Expectancy to a minimum of one-year and should continue with continued reduction of the tumour. Based on the 30% reduction I consented to continuing the treatments until the end in October.
Thursday around 12 noon (exactly seven weeks from the prognosis) a Doctor entered my Hospital room (where I’m wired to Series 3 Chemo) and said he was there to let me know the result of the Pet Scan. 60% reduction of the tumour – from approximately 5 1/2 inches to just over 2 inches. My mind was blown – it seemed almost impossible that this could be the result in only two treatments.
I’d say this was the BEST day of my life – Yesterday, my Doctor visited my room and released me with the following affirmation:
- Yes, the result is 60% and their minds are blown – they never have seen this result.
- I will need to continue until the end of the Series with no additional scans until November, when I’m done with all Chemo and monitoring.
- At that time – one of three things will be the result:
- I will be in complete remission and the Alien Trump will be Impeached!
- I will need to have Radiation Therapy (two doses over two weeks to eradicate whatever is left.)
- The tumour or whatever is leftover can be treated with medicine and quarterly reviews.
I prefer No 1 or No 3.
The Conclusion (well, as of today – it’s still not over yet) is that my Life Expectancy now stands at over two more years and I’m still going for the Goal of 4++++years.
I’d like to thank all of you who have contacted me, left comments, photos, called, etc – it has meant quite a bit to me that the concern has been so overwhelming. I must admit to being very emotional about all this (must be the Steroids).
My plans are still the same as when I was given the original news – finish X-Selling @ Membership Sales (my book), begin the Podcast Series (Podfather of Membership Sales), complete the Bucket List (with an addition of a Route 66 trip with my Son in June) and the rest – well, I’m gonna take that One day at a time and enjoy each one.
You don’t know what you’ve got until you almost lose it – please, don’t ever lose sight of that – and ensure that you tell those you love how you feel…often! You might not get another chance, like I have…