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Tuesday
Oct122010

About My Cancer (And My Plan To Beat It)

So, what do you know about my cancer so far? That it's colon cancer, and that it's Stage 4.

This is only part of the story, and I intend to give you the full story. There is no need to keep you in the dark, and by understanding my cancer and my plan, I think you're going to feel even more confident about my eventual victory. I'd call it an "imminent" victory, but it's going to take several months to officially win this battle, so let's just go with "eventual" for now. It's sort of like Duke Men's Basketball (I just want to warn you right now -- prepare yourself for many Duke hoops references) -- you know they are going to have a ridiculously successful season by opening tip-off, but you need to ride it out 'til March to officially declare it so. I'd also like to remind everyone that Duke Men's Basketball are the 2010 National Champions. I was there. It was beautiful. Yes, I wept tears of joy. GO DUKE!

Ok, getting back on track. My cancer originated in my colon (one pretty large mass), affected neighboring lymph nodes, manifested itself via one small mass in my small intestine, and then decided to continue the party in my peritoneum, otherwise known as the membrane covering my abdominal cavity.

During my first surgery, which was on September 19th and performed by one of my favorite dudes in the world, Dr. Hector Ramos (a post solely dedicated to Ramos coming soon), the cancer in my colon, the neighboring lymph nodes, and my small intestine were taken out (or, for those medically savvy among us, "resected"). That means I've still got cancer in my peritoneum, and there's a pretty serious amount of it. 

Do not fret though, friends and family, because Stage 4 colon cancer is curable. There have been others with my exact same cancer, down to the biology of the tumors that are currently chillin' in my gut, that have been cured -- as in, came out of their battle totally cancer-free. Want to know how? I'll tell you.

There's this incredible surgery, pioneered by an incredible man named Dr. Sugarbaker, in which every scrap of cancer in your peritoneum is plucked out -- down to the tiniest cells detected by the human eye -- and following that, heated chemotherapy is injected into the peritoneum. I call it the "pick it out, pour it in" procedure. After this hardcore surgery, which generally takes 8-12 hours, the patient spends 3-5 days in the ICU, then many, many days in the hospital. Sometimes, it could take up to 3 weeks before a patient is released from the hospital. One incredible, awesome survivor I spoke with said it felt like being hit by a train with no brakes. I responded, "But come on, it kind of feels like a hot stone massage, right?" Obviously not, but I'm just going to go with that image.

This surgery is generally preceded by some months of chemo, then a bit of a break to build up the body for this difficult surgery, then the big "pick it out, pour it in" party, then a few more months of chemo. When the entire process is over, the patient will be 100% cancer-free. Doesn't that sound awesome?

So yes, this is the plan. 3 months of chemo with Dr. Lenz at USC (beginning in about a week), one month to go all Rocky Balboa on myself and get pumped for the "pick it out, pour it in" festival, then 3 more months of chemo just to make sure that cancer knows who's boss. 

One thing I left out -- who is doing the surgery? None other than the man who invented it, the brilliant and heroic Dr. Sugarbaker. He is very selective, and generally doesn't accept patients this early in the game (before they've started chemo), but due to the persistence of my wonderful friend Sabrina, the soft spot existing in the heart of Dr. Sugarbaker's wife, Ilsa (she is in charge of patient intake), and Dr. Sugarbaker's awesomeness, I was accepted as his patient just a couple of days ago. Some say he only picks patients he believes he can cure. I'm glad I've got another believer on board, and I'm ecstatic that it's him.

So, my friends, I am officially Team Lenz/Sugarbaker. I know that these incredible doctors, together with me, you, and the Baby Jesus, are going to see to it that I'll be cancer-free by next summer. Good times.

 

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