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Old May 02, 2010, 01:12 AM
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wife health news

I figured that I would make a blog entry here on RCGroups Some of you may already know my wife (Tracy) has colon cancer. So Iím making my first ever blog entry, to tell the story and give an up-date.
So hereís the full story.
Sometime last summer Tracy was experiencing some abdomen pain that she saw the doctor about. Due to the pain being associated with eating high fat foods and beef; the first though was indigestion. Treatment for the indigestion seems to help for a couple of weeks. Until she was in pain and went into a walk in clinic, on the weekend due to the doctors office being closed. They sent her for an ultrasound and found that she had gallstones. When the results came in she was sent for a CT scan and had a appointment with a surgeon.
So we were thinking that just a quick little procedure to remove the gallstones; and the CT scan was to get a better look at them; no big deal.
The CT scan was scheduled and then a day or two later she calls me from work; in a lot of pain. So right after work she heads off to the hospital emergency. The doctor at the hospital was able to see the CT scan results that night and that was the first time we heard the word cancer. Sent home with morphine; and other pain pills. We kept our appointment with the surgeon the following week. He reviewed the CT scan and told us that in his opinion the spots that were seen on her liver were cancer. We were still thinking gallbladder; and here weíve switched organs and disease. The next thing we learned was that liver cancer is quite rare, but cancer in the liver isnít. What this means is that it has come from somewhere else and that somewhere needs to be found. The most common place is the colon; so a colonoscopy was scheduled and there it is; from the size of the tumor the surgeon figured that it started a long time ago. A biopsy was taken and the cancer agency contacted us about a week later. After meeting with an oncologist we went back to the surgeon to have an access port installed.
And Chemo started back in December. Just recently the tip of the catheter tube from the port has become blocked with a blood clot and will be removed before her next chemo appointment. Since the blood clot has caused the port to become unusable, the oncologist has changed her chemo protocol. She now goes every 3 weeks instead of every other week and she takes pills twice a day for 2 weeks.
From our last report that we had the big thing that they watch is called CEA and it is now down to 3.3
About a month or so ago she went for an ultrasound to measure the size of the spots in/ on her liver and because they were measured with a CT scan the first time, it is difficult to tell if there has been any change. (Different measuring tool) But the report said that they appear to be not getting bigger. So in a few months she may get sent for an ultrasound or a CT scan to see if there is any indication that the tumors are shrinking.
A few things that Iím very grateful for.
~the new hospital in Abbotsford with the cancer clinic is 5 min from home. (seems like a small thing but before the new hospital was built it would have been an hour drive to and from the cancer clinic)
~Tracy works as a receptionist in the office at our church. And the people that she works with are wonderfully supportive.
~Extended health benefits with direct billing. Some of the anti-nausea medications are expensive.
~ The fact that she is able to continue working; not just for the finances but it beats sitting at home starting at the walls and getting depressed about the whole situation.
Rick
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Old May 02, 2010, 12:34 PM
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how the protocol has changed

Tracy's chemo schedule has changed up a little with the new protocol and her next chemo-poison day the 20th. 8 or 9 days before Chilliwack.
We have always gone for chemo on Thursday. The old protocol was 4 chemo drugs and 4 anti nausea drugs over about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Then come home with a bottle hooked up that pumped in over the next 48 hours, and the pump got removed on Saturday. she began to feel better or at least as normal as she ever gets now by about Tuesday.
The new protocol has her getting all the same anti-nausea drugs but only 2 chemo drugs still takes 3 1/2 -4 hours. Then taking pills for 2 weeks.
The pills replace the pump.
The pills are a new thing to figure out, and as such she has a little bit of nausea that needs to be managed over the two weeks
However she seems to be quite tough; as she has been able to continue working through the whole ordeal
Rick
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Old May 03, 2010, 12:41 AM
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I am very sorry to hear about your wife, I will be praying for her and you.
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Old May 03, 2010, 10:10 AM
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Thank You
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Old May 11, 2010, 02:32 PM
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Hey Rick. Just saw this Blog. Good idea and thank you for the opportunity to follow the journey and add our hopes, wishes and prayers. Hoping with all my heart for a speedy recovery and a long healthy life for your wife and your family.

Your Friend - Greg.
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Old Jul 27, 2010, 06:18 PM
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Good news

OK an update with some good news. It's not fantastic but it's pretty darn good.
Last week she went for a second CT scan; as she has now been dosed 12 times with chemo.
The CT scan reviled that the tumours in the liver have shrunk.
We were going to ask for a short break as we wanted to make some summer plans. So for now the chemo is on hold and they are just going to watch the blood work. The Oncologist referred to it as "Partial" remission.
Rick
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Old Sep 21, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Any more updates Rick?
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 12:22 PM
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Right now we are in a watch and see what happens.
From the last doctors visit we learned that the CEA (tumor marker in blood tests) has been a fairly good indicator as to what the cancer is doing. Apparently this isn't always the case. So at the last doctors visit; it was decided to do blood tests in 3; and 6 weeks; and see the oncologist in 7 weeks and see what's happening. As long as the CEA # stays low. NO chemo.
If the CEA # starts to climb then it's back to chemo. Our oncologist doesn't like to over-do the CT scans as they do expose you to a low level of radiation; from the imaging dies that they use. So when the next one is we don't know. One of my questions that I asked last time was how will we know if the cancer is gone. There will be more CT scans and possibly more colonoscopies; before the trip down this road is over. But for now Tracy is enjoying being off the chemo. She still has some lingering side effects; and seems to be doing OK for now.
Rick
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Guess it's time for an update.
Not quite such a happy one as last time. For the last month or so Tracy's been having some minor abdominal pain. So when we saw the doctor after the 7 weeks away from the Cancer clinic. The blood tests showed that the CEA (tumor marker) was starting to climb. By it'self not that big of a deal but coupled with the abdominal pain, our doctor ordered up a CT scan just to see what was going on.
The news was as expected the cancer is once again growing. Not a lot but growing is not the direction that we want to see.
So she's back on the chemo starting later this week or next.
Keep in mind that we did know that the cancer was not gone, it had only been shrunk. It was shrunk quite a lot, and it is still smaller than it was at the start.
Rick
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 11:58 AM
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Don't know if anyone is following. Or if this entry gives an e-mail update like regular threads.
The cancer road is a long one.
Hair loss has been causing her hair to thin out; and last night she wanted it all shaved off. The second time we've done this. It's a bit tough to see her without hair; as it is a constant reminder of the cancer.
Tracy has had another CT scan since my last blog entry. What it showed was growth had stopped and the CEA # had come down a little. Still a little over the flag # of 4. The next CT scan is scheduled after the compleating of the next chemo cycle.
What we are hoping to see the tumor size starting to go down again.
My best analogy would be:
At the start the tumor was extra large.
The first round of chemo shrunk it past large to a med.
Then it grew back to a large.
So I guess were hoping to shrink past med to small this round.

Then comes the hopefull ideas. She gets a break the cancer grows back to med. In round 3 it shrinks from med past small and goes away. At least thats what we can hope for. The cancer road is still pretty long.
Rick
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 02:12 AM
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Hey Rick, I'm still subscribed and yes, I did get the usual notification email, so I think your blog works just like a regular thread.

Sorry to hear you guys are still slogging through this - it would have been great if the first round had taken care of it for good. I guess you still have a long road ahead of you, from the sound of it. The chemo rounds are no fun, I feel for your wife. And the hair loss is bad for anyone, but especially for a grown woman. Men are losing it all the time anyway, but for a lady, in a society where appearance is so important, it must feel like adding insult to injury.

I wish there were something I could do other than wish you and Tracy the best of outcomes. Hang in there! Sarah and I are thinking of you.


Luke
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 10:38 AM
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Luke:
Hey thanks for the info that the blog thread appears to work the same as a regular thread.
As far as the head shaving.
The first time I think it was harder on me than her as now she looked like a cancer victim. Tracy though it was kinda neat for a couple of days.
This time due to the fact that her hair hadn't really grown back. When it started falling out there wasn't much there to shave off.
Your comment about appearance being important. On Monday she wore a scarf on her head due to her hair getting very thin. All she did was add the scarf. and everone was asking "oh are you OK/ how are you feeling"


How's this for an analogy
First time~ her hair was thinning noticably
This time~ it looked a little bit like a real bad come-over. But all over. The kind were the guy just won't accept the fact that were is no hair left.

Our extened heatlh insurance plans covered for a cranial prosthetic (aka wig)with a note from the oncologist.
Rick
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 12:37 PM
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I'm subscribed and received the note too. Thank you for the update.

Progress is progress. This sounds very encouraging. If it costs a little hair to keep moving forward that seems a small sacrifice. I know it's costing her more than that though. All the best going forward and hope the road through this is smooth and short.

Greg
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Old Feb 09, 2011, 01:07 PM
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OK guys thanks.
Since your getting the update e-mail notifications I will continue to report. on this long unwanted journey.
I had a huge
WOWmoment a few months ago
When we started on the cancer road just over a year ago. As our chemo nurse was explaining this and that with regards to the chemo and all that. She talked about Tracy's cancer red card. that has phone #'s to call after hours if something nasty started to happen.
It was almost a year later talking with one of the nurses it hit me.
As to what her File # meant.
her file number is 09-27xxx meaning that in 2009 she was the 27,xxx person to be diagnosed with cancer.
Thatís In B.C. alone. Thatís 30,000 people per year in a province that has a population of 4,100,000
What about the rest of Canada/ North America/ the world.
It's pretty staggering.
Rick
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Old Mar 16, 2011, 09:23 PM
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We saw our Oncologist today. It's always a good news bad news thing.
Chemo is tough on the bone marrow; and so far she has been doing OK in that regard.
All her liver functions and blood work has been good all along so far.
However the CT scan and the CEA blood test are not showing that the cancer is getting smaller.
It's not growing but it's also not shrinking right now.

At some point she will need a break from the poisoning effects from the chemo; and the fear is that will give the cancer a chance to get bigger. So for now we keep on going for chemo and hpe for the best.
For now the toughest part is the side effects from the capecitabine pills.
Rick
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