At the bottom of the mountain, looking up.

I thought that I should post a diary to update everyone on things around here as there is a lot of information.  We have a very long row ahead of us.  Just to catch anyone who may have missed this up, in early June my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer after being ill all spring and experiencing a dramatic 50 lb weight loss.  Within the week of his diagnosis, he went in for surgery in hopes of removing the tumor and resectioning his colon.  Unfortunately the tumor was too large and had passed through the colon and entwined around major arteries so it could not be removed.  Although he was able to eat again and regain some strength as soon as he came back from the surgery he had a string of complications related to the surgery as well as the cancer including a near fatal pulmonary embolism and later bleeding from the medications prescribed to treat the PE.  Now that he is finally stable we met with oncologists both locally and at a major regional cancer center to discuss the plan going ahead.

DH is at high risk now for micro metastatic tumors spreading to other organs.  He will begin a chemo regimen this Tuesday.  Every 4 weeks or so he will undergo a CAT scan to see if the tumor is shrinking and other very small blips on previous scans are changing as that will let us know whether he has tumors in other locations.  Fortunately the chemo should shrink any places where it may have spread along with the initial tumor.  Depending upon which doctor we speak with, this treatment could last anywhere from 4-6 months or longer.  Once the tumor has shrunk sufficiently he will need to undergo radiation with concurrent chemotherapy to really destroy the tumor.  This regiment will consist of 5 weeks of 5 day radiation treatments.  After that he will be a candidate for the resection surgery, this time at a place that does a high volume of colorectal surgeries.  In the event that the surgery is successful he will need another surgery to reverse the colostomy he received from his first surgery this June.

There are no guarantees that any of this will work out so things are very uncertain around here.  Should he not be a candidate for surgery or should they go in and once again discover that the tumor is inoperable, he will need to keep up a chemo regimen for the rest of his life.

My inlaws have been in town, staying overnights at my parents’ house but days here.  They plan on returning home after his first chemo appointment as long as he responds fairly well and is not completely incapacitated.  It sounds like the regimen for this type of cancer is fairly mild as far as side effects are concerned but he is starting out still fairly weak so that is cause for concern.  He has been starting to eat better and is getting antsy so he plans to return to work on a very limited basis in a couple of weeks.   His employer is being very flexible and is working out a work from home arrangement for him as well as time off for treatments.  The kids and I are hanging in there.  I have sought out a councilor for them as this will affect our family for some time.  I started a group on Facebook to offer encouragement to my husband as he begins his treatment and have been overwhelmed yet again by the kindness and generosity of spirit of those we know including many here.  If you want to be involved you can look me up through the MTers Facebook page and I can make you part of Team Alex.  I am also trying to flood his email on those days with well wishes so if that if you don’t do FB we could do something via email.  Thanks to all of you who have shown us so much love and support during this time.


20 thoughts on “At the bottom of the mountain, looking up.

  1. Musicteacher, your strength and ability to be there for your husband and your kids is so inspiring. It might not feel that way — surely there are moments when you are losing patience with the kids or something — but you’re really doing so much to keep everything running and keep everyone’s head above water. I’ve been praying a lot for A, but I hope you know that there are a lot of prayers being said for YOU. I don’t know when you will get some time to yourself to decompress and process everything that has hit your family, but in the meantime know that we are here to listen to all of the venting and worrying, and hopefully MT can bring some laughs into your day.

    • Thanks CG, I could not have said this better.

      Adding my love and hugs. Lots of good thoughts coming DH’s, your and your family’s way from us.

  2. Oh, C, what a long road you have indeed. It sounds like doctors are working hard to get ahead of this cancer, and I hope A continues to grow stronger and begins to see the end.

    Sending you and A and your kids lots of love and hugs.

  3. Same as others have said- I’m thinking of al of you often. I’ve got this routine where I make red lights (like stop lights) a cue for something that I need or want to do- these days, it’s prayers for you and your family. You are doing this with such grace and strength (though I know you’d probably scoff at that). Also, can I just say that I’m hoping for DH to do well with the first chemo not only because you guys so deserve a break, but also because it will get your MIL out of your hair? A billion hugs honey.

    • Hell- I forgot I changed my nickname. This is the other New Hampshire person with the kid who just got over being sick. (I need to try to be a bit more discrete these days.)

  4. C., I wish so much that any of us lived closer and could help you in a concrete way. Please know that we are all behind you, with the sack o’ doorknobs when necessary. You, A., and your children will come through this knowing that nothing can break you.

    And I’m off to friend you on FB. :)

  5. I can only echo what others have said — you have so much on your plate, and you are handling it so well. I too pray for A and for the chemo to go well — both for his sake and to get your family life back to some semblance of normalcy.

    Lots of love to you all.

  6. Thank you for the update, musicteacher. I have been thinking about you guys a lot. It is so unfair. F&$@ cancer!!! I hope the chemo goes well for A. From what I can tell chemo is a lot more tolerable in general in 2012 than it was when we were kids so that’s one good thing. I hope his treatment will work well with the minimum of side effects. Good luck.

  7. Just wanted to echo what others have said. I am amazed at your strength and pray that you will be able to do what needs to be done for yourself as you get everyone else up the mountain. You can do it, just a little at a time.

  8. Thanks for the update. Whew! You all do have some serious, serious mountain-climbing ahead. I am so amazed by your strength, intelligence and heart as you navigate this. Many prayers and big hugs.

  9. I know how hard it seems right now. And it is hard. But, every day, it will get easier. We really do develop “new normals”. Sometimes we think “UGH!!! I CAN’T DO THIS!”….but, after awhile, we look around and we ARE doing it. And we’re getting through it. And as much as I wish, from the bottom of my heart that you and your family didn’t have to go through this, it will make you all so strong. You’ll look back and you’ll realize that this was the point that most things started looking less scary. Empowered in a way that will help you push through just about anything else in life.

    We’ve been thinking about you all a lot, and will continue to do so. Thanks for filling us in on what’s happening.

  10. Hugs hugs hugs, to you and DH and the kids. And I’m REJOICING that your inlays have decided to return home if all is well after chemo! Praying that the chemo is well tolerated.

  11. Much love to you and your family. I hope that the chemo goes well for DH and that they notice progress in his fight against the cancer. Please keep us posted as you can and let us know whenever there is something we can do to help. Hugs.

  12. Thank you for sharing an update. I am always thinking about you guys and praying for you all. I’m so sorry this is happening. I really am amazed with the grace and courage that you guys are tackling this with, you are both just super people, I don’t know how else to say it. Sending you all the love and positive energy the internet can hold and in the short term, lots of wishes that his treatment goes well and some people can start heading on home as well : ) xoxo

  13. I’ve been thinking of you all so much. I got a kindle fire app that lets me create prayer cards (which is not something Lutherans are experienced in doing). I was able to create one for your family so I can remember to wish you healing, comfort, & strength. Thanks for keeping us updated.

  14. Thinking of you guys this morning and hoping that this goes quirky and easily for all of you. Imagine that we’re all sitting and standing around you at the hospital and at home and facing your MIL- one big crowd of love and support.

  15. I’ve not been on MTers for a while, and just read this entry. I have nothing other than my deepest hopes, loving hugs, and good wishes to add. Your fight reminds me of two experiences that were close up for me — one was a good friend’s battle with aplastic anemia, full bone marrow transplant, year of chemo, at age 34. Her motto during that entire time: One foot in front of the other. The other experience is my daughter-in-law’s which you might remember. At age 34 diagnosed with osteosarcoma of her jaw bone. Year of chemo (two daughters age 7 months and 3 years), massive face & leg surgeries (bone grafting from leg to jaw) etc. What gives me such resounding hope for your family is both of these women are completely recovered with active, fully packed lives. I know they would join me in sending their hopes that you and your family find what you need to get through each day. They know how hard it is and they also know it can be done. You will too. So much love I’m sending with these words, it cannot be quantified. I feel the pull and ache of it in the pit of my stomach and from my momma full and beating heart. I’m thinking of you and rooting for you every single day.

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