While the headline to this post is not my usual cheerful lead, I do have good news to share. As usual, though, there’s a bit of bad news to go along with the good.
First the bad. About six weeks ago I started having pain in my neck. I thought it was from sleeping wrong. When it lasted a few weeks, I mentioned it to the oncologist during a visit. He suggested doing a CT scan of my neck as a precautionary measure. We were already planning to scan my chest and lungs, so it was easy to add my neck.
The scan showed tumors in my T1 and C5 vertebrae. Yes, the colon cancer has spread to my spine. The largest tumor is in my T1. It already has caused a hairline fracture and is pushing down on nerves and causing a tremendous amount of pain in my neck, shoulder, arm and down my back. Every doctor who sees the scan says, “No wonder you’re hurting.” I’m taking medicine that takes away the most severe pain, but the pain is always there to one degree or another.
Now the good news. I saw the oncologist on Friday morning and he got me an appointment with an oncology radiologist by Friday afternoon. The radiologist said the tumors can be treated with one low dose of radiation. Hooray! Tomorrow I go to have a cast made of my face to hold me in place while they do the radiation, then they’ll schedule the treatment for one day this week. Once the tumor is gone, the pain will diminish. The pain should be completely gone in two or three weeks.
The scan also showed my right lung is a mess. Lots of scar tissue, fluid is building up again, and the tumors in my lymph nodes are larger and pressing against my airway making the “straw” I’ve been breathing through even smaller. I now wear my oxygen all the time when I’m at home and some of the time when I’m out. The portable is so heavy, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to use it. I do, however, always keep the portable in the car so I can suck in some oxygen before and after I go anywhere. Even a short walk can make me out of breath.
We’re hoping the Lonsurf chemo pills I’m taking will shrink the tumors and help me breathe better. I started taking pills for Round 2 on Friday, and am doing just fine. I can’t tell that they’re causing any side effects.
I had speaking engagements in Bristol, VA, Kingsport and Greeneville the week before last, and they couldn’t have gone better. God always blesses me with the energy and strength I need to do my speaking engagements, and I am thankful.
In close, I’ll share a message about being thankful. I always try to find something to be thankful for in every situation. When my pain was excruciating, I had the dismal thought, “There’s nothing you can be thankful about for this.” Then it came to me – I do have something to be thankful for. Without the pain, we would never have scanned my neck and never known that a dangerous tumor was growing there. Untreated, the cancer would eventually eat through the bone and land me in a wheelchair. So, I am thankful. Thankful for pain, thankful for treatment, thankful for friends and family who care about me, and thankful that God is with me every step of the way.
Hurting but hopeful,
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you;” I Thessalonians 5:8