Well, we made it through the first week of chemo and it was, well what it was. It was a long and uncomfortable week. All and all I am feeling better than I had anticipated. I don't feel great and it's strange because I can tell there is "something wrong" inside of me because things just "don't feel right". But all in all I am doing OK. I do hit some lows as well as have my better moments. Not sure what to update everyone on. Things are, as you can imagine, day by day.
We've completed our first "full week" of treatment where I was required to be there everyday for about 6 hours and get a bunch of different cocktails pumped into me. For the next two weeks, I only need to go in on Tuesdays for a treatment of Bleomycin. Besides that, the only other goal is to get my body back in shape so that it can go through another "full week" of treatment.
With the exception of not feeling well I don't think I am really displaying too many of the normal side effects. Those of you who have checked out the webcam might have noticed the clean-shaven head. That was for the most part self-inflicted to avoid the patchy look. I have noticed that I don't need to shave nearly as much as I used to but at the same time I still have my eyebrows so things aren't just falling out.
My goal this week is to get out and get active with something. Not sure what and it's not like I really feel like doing anything, but I need to take this time to get my body moving again. It's been a month since my first big surgery that cut through all my stomach muscles so I think it's time I start doing some activities that build that back up. Before I started chemo, and not knowing how I was going to respond to chemo, I talked my good friend Terry into taking me to the batting cages and letting me hit a few baseballs. That probably wasn't the smartest move to make and I ended up paying for it over the next couple of days but I was glad I did it. I think I am going to give the batting cages a break for a little while but maybe I'll try and hit the driving range and see if that is any easier.
As far as the family report everything seems to be going good. The girls are having a full and complete summer vacation. Their Aunt Theta is still here and is a great help. Bek is doing well; she is working a lot and taking care of me so things are crazy for her. My parents are talking about coming back out which would be really nice.
So I am sitting here for my second day of chemo and it is about as exciting as the first day. I have to really thank my friends at Sony for hooking me up with a new PlayStation Portable (PSP). I lovc this thing. It plays games, videos, and music as well as hold pictures. I need to go out and buy some movies for this thing or get a bigger memory card so I can put my own movies on it. Besides that not much more going on. I sit here for about 5 hours and have a bunch of toxic chemicals pumped into me. Really looking forward to being done with this. Getting back to work, seeing my old friends, playing baseball.
Anyways, I wish I had more to talk about. Actually getting tired of talking about cancer and my treatment. Everyone here is sick with one thing or another and they can't wait to talk about it. Today I think I might be the only cancer person here and don't really feel like sharing it with people. I am the youngest so far over the past couple of days. As odd as it sounds I take a certain joy in that. I know younger people get affected but being 36 and the youngest one being treated seems like a good sign on some level.
Today there are a bunch of people getting blood transfusions here today. I am curious about what their connections are. Bek and I have ongoing discussions about blood transfusions. Because of her faith she doesn't agree with it and I disagree with that. For Bek, a lot of it comes down to bibilical scripture and how her faith interprets it. Fortunately, chemo wasn't around when the Bible was written or I'm sure that would have been a mortal sin, in my opinion. The thought of having faith dictate medical decicions always kind of turned me off to a lot of faiths and there are many that do it in some form or another. And they can all point out cases where people followed their faith and their decisions on various issues turned out for the better. You can argue that they are the exception not the rule and point out several cases in which results weren't so positive, but those conversations go nowhere.
Honestly, when word of cancer first started being used in my case, I told Bek chemo was out of the question. Obviously, that was a premature statement but my experience at the time had been chemo being used to attempt to save people whose cancer had gotten very far along; people whose outlook was bleak but still they hoped that chemo could extend or resolve the problem. In just about every case, a part of the chemo extended life for a little while but the quality of life was terrible. I didn't want to be that person. But we talked to my Oncologist and we made the determination we were not "chasing" anything anymore. All the tumors are removed; now we just need to try and finish off the cancer in my blood stream. After a lot of soul searching I decided that I would do the chemo and I know when I am at my girls high school graduation I will be happy that I did.
As I sit here and watch these people receive their blood transfusions I wonder what their obstacles were when determining this treatment. I wonder if faith factored in, or a need to be here for someone, or just a desire to live. From the looks of everyone here it looks these guys have made the best decision, they all seem very well.
Chemo started today, or as we refer to it Cycle1 (of 3) and went fairly well. No blood gushing out of my eye sockets or visions of the Reaper rising out of the ground to take me away. No, for the most part it was pretty boring. Got to meet the nurse who will be administering my treatment. She seems pretty nice, always making sure I am comfortable and have the things I need.
The two big drugs I got today were Etoposide and Cisplation. Basically Etoposide kills off cells, mainly cancer cells but also good cells unfortunately. The idea is that the good cells will regenerate themselves in about a month. This has become one of the weekly numbers we will be keeping our eyes on. Cisplation slows down the growth of any new cancer cells while this is all going on.
Tomorrow I get another drug added to my cocktail called Bleomycin. This is the bad boy of the three and has the potential of doing the most harm to my system. It jacks with your lungs pretty good and can cause skin rashes and mouth sores. They all have the issues of making you sick and loosing your hair.
This goes on everyday this week. Then the next 2 weeks I have my cocktail on Tuesday and that completes a Cycle. I then start the process all over again. The Bleomycin is given only on the Tuesdays and the other two drugs are only administered the first week of the cycle. They're also giving me a pre-chemo cocktail each morning that really cuts down the side effects such as nausea and keeps me hydrated.
That's about it for today. Only other real thing of concern, just to keep everyone informed, was some talk about my kidneys having problems. These cycles really put your body through the wringer and some numbers came back that my kidney functions are low. Right now, it's just a matter of making sure I drink a lot of water and other fluids and they feel everything will be Ok.
Stage IIc to be exact. That is the stage of my cancer. Understand there are several stages and sub-stages. Stage I (A, B, and S) which is the least severe cancer stage, Stage II (A, B, and C), and the more severe, Stage III (A, B, and C). Stage IIC is defined as a lymph node mass in abdomen or pelvis more than 5 cm (2 inches) in size; tumor markers are normal or mildly increased. Because I am a little more on the advanced stage side with a StageIIC, not doing chemo really isn't an option.
Now the good news, Testicular Cancer is very aggressive and quickly attacks the lungs and brain but I fortunately avoided that. My chest x-rays came back clean and since there is nothing there, there is no reason to suspect I have any tumors on my brain. This is great news and means that I am done with surgery.
So I start my chemo treatment called BEP next Monday. Thanks to several advancements in the various medications the procedure should be an outpatient process. Unless my body has a severe adverse reaction to the treatment, I should be able to come home everyday after my treatments, which will be nice.
As always thanks for the emails, postings, and to the several people helping out my family. I will continue to keep updates coming when I can.
Hey everyone, just dropping a quick note to let you know I am still here. Had a pretty rough patch last week but I am feeling better and better everyday now. I still hurt, but in retrospect over the past month, I am doing great. Wouldn't want to hurt this much any other time, but today I am happy to feel this way and I know tomorrow I will feel even better. A lot of small personal accomplishments have happened the past several days, the biggest of which was me actually getting outside and moving around a little. It has been weeks since I've been outside for any amount of time and it felt good to go for a walk. I am moving around more and more. I actually helped my daughters wash their hair last night which became a huge personal moment for me. I am looking forward to getting back to everyday life although that might still be a little ways out.
So let's do the update thing. I had a follow up visit with the doctor that did my first surgery and he checked me out to see how my body was healing after the two surgeries. Things seem to be pretty much on track. He was concerned I was still not eating and asked that I make more of an effort to eat normal which I have started doing. The big appointment is Tuesday, when I see my Oncologist. He is the person who has taken the lead in my ongoing treatment. Of which, I should have more information on after my visit with the Oncologist but for now, it looks like I am going to have to go through a chemo process known as BEP for 4 cycles. From everything I've heard this is pretty much going to suck but it should be the end of the process for me; after that, things should start getting back to normal, health and life wise.
Now for some fun stuff, since I was feeling good I decided to sit down at the computer and do some work, so I added a webcam to the site. Nothing special, just pretty much me looking dazed and confused at my computer when I am in here working. So be sure to check it out if you are interested, it updates about every 5 minutes when it is on.
Sorry I didn't update the site yesterday but to be honest, physically I am hurting pretty good right now. My surgery to remove the new mass went as well as expected. I am a man who considers himself "up with technology" but the ability for a doctor to pull me in for surgery, cut me open, remove body parts, close me up and have me home for lunch is simply amazing. It takes me longer to fix most computer problems then it took this doctor to perform his surgery on my body. I couldn’t believe that I was home in less than 6 hours. They checked me in, prepped me, knocked me out, cut me open, did the surgery, closed me up, woke me up, and sent me home in less time then a day of work.
Yesterday and today I have been hurting, and I mean hurting, a lot. Today has been one of the toughest days, physically, for me. Personally, I have been in more pain these last couple of weeks but especially yesterday and today than I ever care to be in. Today went well beyond discomfort; it out and out hurt, and hurt bad.
I’ve taken a lot of time to make sure I thank every one helping out my family in this time and there are quite a few people lending their hand from dinners to helping out around the house. But a couple of people who I might not have given the just desserts are my wife, Rebekah and my sister, Theta. I don’t know what I would have done this morning if my sister wasn’t here. She has been helping out with the girls when Bek has been working and running around; basically keeping our world spinning. Theta also has been looking after me and I really needed her today. I will never be able to completely let her know how much she is appreciated. And then there’s Rebekah. Like I said she has been doing everything to try so hard to keep things as normal as possible. She’s been working and then coming home, taking care of me, getting normal errands done, and still managing to spend time with the girls. And the girls themselves, Emily and Alyssa, have been absolutely wonderful. Although we are trying to shield them from a lot of the things going on they are smart kids and know there is more to the situation than they are being told. So much of our life lately has been “out of the normal” routine and the girls have been great about it. From staying with friends, to respecting an Aunt they hardly knew, to not being able to jump up and down on Dad they way they normally do, the girls have been great and continue to be wonderful. Bek and Theta are working so hard to make sure they have a normal summer vacation.
Continue reading Everything went well
Well, got some bad news today. Turns out I am going to have some more surgery to remove another "suspicious" mass on Thursday. This is will be nothing like the original tumor that was removed. As a matter of fact, right now it sounds like it's going to be out patient surgery where I go in early in the morning and get discharged later that same day. I will know more tomorrow after I talk to the doctor doing the surgery.
As always a huge thanks goes out to all the family and friends who have been so supportive over this very difficult time. Even the emails and comments posted on the website make for a huge lift in my spirits when I read them.
Sorry it's taken me awhile to post to the site. Physically, the surgery to remove the original tumor has taken a lot out of me. I've been hurting pretty good this past week since coming home from the hospital but man it feels so good to be home.
Moving forward, it looks like this next surgery is going to be it; at least we are hoping. I will get a two week period to recover and after that start a 4 month treat process of chemo. At least that is the plan for now.
Well, I'm back home and I couldn't be happier. Humm, I guess that's not totally true. Let me apologize for the confusion and emotional up and down roller coaster ride of the past week. We were simply relaying information as we got it.
To make sure we are all on the same page, let me break down the various diagnoses of the past couple of weeks.
Going into my surgery last Friday, the diagnosis was that I had a very rare cancer called Sarcoma. This sucked but was very treatable. The key thing was getting the tumor itself out of my body in one complete piece. This was the best diagnosis with the test results and small biopsy that they had. If the tumor was taken out completely then I was going to have to move on to radiation treatment and the lovely plastic pants but after that I would be done and hopefully cancer free.
After a very long surgery on Friday, the lead surgeon who specialized in Sarcoma Tumors told us that he was confident it was not a Sarcoma Tumor but was in fact this "Mediastinal teratoma" that Bek posted about earlier. As far as additional treatment, there was none; the surgery was it, I was done after that. No cancer at all. Just needed to heal from that and I was back in the game. Now understand, the surgeon wasn't shooting from the hip to make a family happy, as I mentioned earlier there were several “lead” surgeons in for this operation and they all shared in the findings. As a matter of fact a few of the surgeons and other doctors whom I had been seeing over the past few weeks were happy to drop by and share how relieved they were to find the teratoma and how it must have be a huge weight of my shoulder.
The tumor itself was sent off to Pathology just to make the findings “official” and the only other thing there was to focus one was my recovery.
Then yesterday, the doctor made his normal stop off at my room as he had been doing all week but this time he pulled up a chair and sat down; I knew there was a problem. He started off with an apology; this wasn't going to be good. He explained how they had been running multiple tests on the tumor and discovered it was in fact a Yolk Sac Tumor and that I was back to having cancer only this time it wasn't as easy of a cancer to treat and cure. Matter of fact, there will not be a way to tell if I am ever completely cancer free.
Unfortunately, the Lead Surgeon who performed the operation and had been checking up on me everyday, chose to defer any cancer questions we had to our Oncologist. On the one hand this really concerns me and on the other hand I can totally understand this. So we find ourselves in a familiar position of not really having enough information to relay any type of full details to everyone. For now I am just happy to be back home and with all the women in my life. I am pretty tired right now so I will post more information of what we do know over the next couple of days. I would also like to thank all the people who have taken the time to post comments, emails, phone calls, and drop by; especially my sister, who flew out here from the east coast last week and has been helping out a lot. Thank you also to all the friends who have been helping out by watching the girls as Bek and I ran to different multiple doctor appointments, and supplying wonderful dinners to help lighten our very hectic schedules. It is really comforting to know how many caring people we have out there thinking and praying for us. Thank you again for all the support you are providing.
Well, more news. It looks like the surgeon was mistaken in his optimism. The pathology report today indicates that Eric indeed has cancer, yolk sac tumor to be specific. They are sending additional specimens to a national lab but that's the diagnosis so far. Of course, I've spent too much time on the internet trying to find answers but it's all relative.
Here's one website: http://lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/oncology/gct.html
endodermal sinus tumor or yolk sac tumors
Endodermal sinus tumor or yolk sac tumors are germ cell tumors that are most often malignant, but may also be benign. These tumors are most commonly found in the ovary, testes, and sacrococcygeal areas (tail bone, or distal end of spinal column). When found in the ovaries and testes, they are often very aggressive, malignant, and can spread rapidly through the lymphatic system and other organs in the body. Yolk sac tumors are the most common malignant testicular and ovarian tumors in children. Most yolk sac tumors will require surgery and chemotherapy, regardless of stage or presence of metastasis, because of the aggressive nature and recurrence of the disease
At this point, Eric will be discharged tomorrow and is scheduled to see the Oncologist Thursday, July 14. The surgeon says chemotherapy may be recommended but again, it's all a waiting game at this point. Wish I had better news to report. Who knows, maybe they'll be wrong again. It wouldn't be the first time during the last month of doctor's appointments and tests.
Keep saying those prayers! We do appreciate all of you.
Well, I can finally update the website myself. Eric was coherent enough to harass today about the computer and we have internet connection again! Tom and Terry were kind enough to update the web and email so that you weren't left in the dark too long.
So, here's the latest. They moved him to a med/surg room this afternoon and he's up walking around a little. It's going to be a long summer but his doctor is optimistic that the worst is over. The tumor is out and Eric's vein started filling up immediately; no damage was done to it while the tumor was pressing up against it all this time. From all appearances it is in fact NOT cancer but an even rarer anomaly, a teratoma.
Mature teratomas of the mediastinum are benign lesions. They do not have the metastatic potential observed in testicular teratoma and are cured by surgical resection alone. Because of their anatomic location, intraoperative and postoperative complications are the only significant source of morbidity, as other intrathoracic structures often are intimately involved with the tumor.
Sex: Sacrococcygeal teratomas are much more common in females than in males, occurring in a female-to-male ratio of approximately 3-4:1. Most sources report no sex predilection for mediastinal teratomas. Others document a marked male or marked female predominance. Excluding testicular teratomas, 75-80% of teratomas occur in girls.
Also, to paraphase another oncologist, they can be comprised of all sorts of cells, such as hair, teeth, skin, intestines. He said it's not surprising to actually find teeth, hair, intestines within the tumor!?! (anyone familiar with My Big Fat Greek Wedding will appreciate this). Leave it to Eric to be as unique as possible!!! Of course, we won't have the official word until Tuesday/Wednesday next week but I plan on riding this wave as long as I can 🙂
Thank you, thank you for all of your kind thoughts and prayers and especially all of your help. We couldn't have made it this far without you.
Bek, Eric, Emme and Ally
PS: Anyone looking to visit should probably call first but he may be up to it as soon as tomorrow afternoon. He's in room 413 (4-West) at Scripps Green in La Jolla. Their main number is 858-554-9100. We still don't know for sure when he'll be home but it'll probably be sometime between Wednesday and Friday.
Family and friends, good news. The 4 hour surgery was successful in removing a benign tumor just slightly larger then a baseball. NO cancer was found! He is expected to make a full recovery! Thanks to all for their thoughts and prayers.
OK family and friends alike, this is my last entry for a while. Have no fear, Rebekah was given a crash course in blogging and hopefully she will be able to keep the website up to date on my progress.
My family came into town today and it's nice to have them here. Including my sister whom I haven't seen in a few years. I am hoping for the best, and expecting better. Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to call, email, and post comments to the website. It was great catching up with everyone; I do wish it were under better circumstances. Everyone who has been helping out, a big thanks goes out to you. And thanks for all the prayers and well wishing, I will be thinking of everyone tomorrow.
I'll be blogging, programming, networking, playing baseball, and chasing my girls again real soon. Talk to everyone again later.
You know, just when I think I'm done with all the major doctor appointments and being poked and scanned, they manage to pull me in for another one. And I thought my PET Scan from yesterday was strange. Today I got fitted with plastic pants. Seriously, there's no punch line.
I got called in to see Radiation Oncologist today. The PET scanned confirmed the tumor was a cancer, which was no real surprise but there was the far outside hope that they would pull the tumor out and discover it was in fact not cancer. Glad they were able to shatter those hopes of mine before the surgery when I might be on some sort of emotional high of hope for an easy recovery. The good news is there are no other glowing spots to worry about. So anyway, it was decided that I would undergo radiation treatment a few weeks after surgery. This will consist of 6 weeks of getting nuked everyday. Doesn't sound like fun but I could be wrong.
Part of the treatment process requires that I lay perfectly still and to help asset in this effort they fitted me for, you guessed it, plastic pants. Let me tell you this is probably the strangest thing I've ever had to do. The process involves me lying on the CAT scan table naked while they drape this hot sheet of plastic over me. Yes, it burns in a hot wax candle type of way. The sheet goes from about mid stomach down to about mid thigh. The plastic eventually cools and hardens. They then latch it down so I can't move. In any other environment this entire process could actually be considered kinky, but needless to say it was less than enjoyable under current circumstances. So that's it, that is now my official plastic pants cast and they keep it on hand for my therapy.
Then get this, to help with the treatment they tattooed me! Marking where the tumor is so they know where to zap. So I have three small tattoo dots on my mid section. So, I got fitted for plastic pants and tattooed in the same day. Sounds like something that might happen to you after a night of heavy drinking in Tijuana.
Anyway, the tattoo rounded out my vein mapping that I got yesterday that I didn't really share with everyone. One of my appointments yesterday was with Vascular where they did an ultrasound of my good leg and with a dark black permanent marker, traced one of my veins from my upper inner thigh to my ankle with a few branches on the way day. So if they determine they need to replace a vein in my bad leg, they know exactly where to harvest it.
With that wonderful piece of information I think I will let everyone go. I do want to thank everyone who has been calling and emailing and generally keeping my family and me in their thoughts and prayers. It is greatly appreciated on levels you may never know.
It was a marathon day of getting poked, scanned, x-rayed, and marked up for my surgery on Friday. Of the 6 hours I spent at the various medical facilities today, I have to say that the PET Scan was among the more interesting tests I have had to go through in these recent weeks. PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography and what they do is inject a radioactive substance into you. Which needless to say, is a little concerning when you are lying there thinking about what they actually just put into your body. It's funny because they get your IV going, then they open this lead box and pull out a lead syringe which has the radioactive stuff in it, and inject it into you vein. You then have to lie still for 45 minutes to let the radioactivity make it's way through your entire body. Then they stick you in a machine much like a CAT Scan and start scanning for glowing parts. You see what happens is the radioactive stuff finds cancer cells and lights them up. So glow is bad.
Obviously, as with all these tests, the techs that run the test won't tell you anything about the results. That is left up for the doctor. But I took it as a good sign that the tech didn't have the need to put on sunglasses to look at my results. I have to admit while I was laying there waiting for the radioactivity to make its way through my body, I had thoughts of grandeur that there would be one of those freak indoor storms and while the radioactivity stuff jets through my body I would get struck with lighting and end up with some freakish mutant super power. But alas, no great mutant power, but I have noticed since coming home from the hospital, every time I walk into my kitchen, my microwave beeps. No sure if it's related or not.
I think that's about all I have for tonight. I don't really have that much going on until the actual surgery. But if I come up with more to talk about, or if there are any changes, I will be sure to post the information here.
You know there are actually other things going on in the family besides my situation. Since I have so many family and friends watching the website now, I should update you on that as well.
For myself, there's not much happening. A lot of talking to doctors and getting ready for the surgery. The doctors are actually giving me tomorrow off to spend a long weekend with my family. Monday is going to be a long day. I have a PET Scan, which I had never heard of before, x-rays, EKG, and blood work to prep me for surgery. My day starts at about 8 AM at Green Hospital and I wont get out of there until about 5 or 6. I had them jam all my pre op stuff into the same day so after that, I should have little to do until Friday. My surgery will be Friday, July 1st at Green Hospital and the doctors are planning on me being there for a week.
As for other going on (believe it or not there are other things happening in our little world besides me 🙂 ). The girls last day of school was yesterday and they are now moving on to the 2nd grade. The community pool had a Summer Break Pool Party today that the girls attended. It was great, they swam all day, had 4 of those big jumpies, this huge crazy slip and slide blow up thing, music, arts and crafts, food, and just about anything fun. I went and picked them up from this event and I was jealous we didn't have something like that when I was a kid. The girls had a great time, and they are getting so big. It seemed like half their school was there.
Bek is doing well. Needless to say her main focus of late has been to make sure I am taken care of. But she was happy to wrap up the school year as well. Bek has been very active in the schools PTA and helping out in classrooms. You can tell she really enjoys it and she has made some great friends doing it.
We've had a lot of offers from people to help out with the kids or around the house, anything we need. I just wanted to let you know we are not blowing you off by any means and I am sure we will be calling on some of your services in the very near future. Right now, things are really busy but not unmanageable. I am getting around OK and not being too much of a burden on Bek and the girls. That is probably all going to change next week.