Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Diagnosis, Part 2

Three days later the biopsy results came back.  No cancer!  Deep sigh of relief for me and for us.  Also, no Valley Fever.  That was ok too, but that had never really worried me.  They were proceeding as if this was just a large yeast infection.  However, the second doctor did not believe the pathology of the biopsies.  He swore it was cancer and scheduled me for a second esophageal endoscope four days after the first one so he could re-biopsy the mass himself.  My first thought was that he wanted it to be cancer.  It made me mad actually, but I went ahead and had it done again.  After the scope, he said he’d biopsied deeper and did well over ten different places on the mass.  I was still mad.  I kept asking myself why he wanted this to be cancer so badly.  All I could come up with was he either wanted the surgical fee, or he was one of these that could not stand to be wrong.  Probably both.  The damn biopsies came back clear so LEAVE it!  But he didn’t.  This round of results would be back in three or four business days.  Yay...  I get to fret about it all weekend since it was a Friday.

The following Wednesday we get a call to come into the doctor’s office.  The biopsy came back as cancer this time.  It was exceptionally small and it took two different pathologists to see it, so it was VERY early on.  So early and so small in fact that they couldn’t differentiate the kind of cancer it was.  He said the mass that I had was caused by the Barrett’s Esophagus.  What Barrett’s Esophagus?  No one ever said anything about that before.  I’d never had symptoms, let alone a diagnosis that would have caused a mass that large.  How can that be?  We never really got a good answer for that.  The bottom line was it was cancerous and we had to decide what to do about it.  He was going to confer with the oncologist and see what would be the best next step and would be in touch.  While that was going on I was going to have an esophageal ultrasound and a CT Scan to see how deep the cancer was and determine what stage it was.  The oncologists said that it was so small and early on they would be surprised if it was any more than stage 2.  Try to have a good Christmas…  Gee thanks and Merry Christmas to you too, doc.

The week after Christmas I had the next scope of the esophagus with the ultrasound the CT Scan.  Again, another three to seven days wait for results.  The results came back showing it was NOT in the esophageal wall at all or behind it.  This is good.  Another sign the stage was very early.  They set it as stage 1.  This particular type of cancer is rare and it is even rarer to find it this early.  I should consider myself lucky.  Sure, I’m lucky.  I’ve got cancer.  I’m real lucky.  I was still in denial I guess.  Next up, a PET scan to show if the cancer was anyplace else other than in the esophagus.

The PET scan was done just after New Year’s in January, 2013.  By this time I was getting numb to a lot.  I was not really hearing anything anymore.  All I knew was I had cancer.  It was burned into my brain.  Very little else registered.  Not even the fact I was still losing weight and not eating much.  The PET showed a bright spot exactly where the doc said I had the cancer.  That was expected. However, it also showed that three lymph nodes also were glowing a little meaning that they had cancer in them too.  My brain did register that. Lymph nodes filter the blood.  That means there is a chance that things could get worse.  Great.  We need to schedule surgery soon.  This surgery will consist of taking out a good portion of the esophagus as well as the top portion of the stomach, then stretching the stomach up into the chest and re-attaching it to what was left of the esophagus.  Then he asked if I had had any heart tests done.  I never had.  Even though I had high blood pressure, my heart health was never brought into question.  My cholesterol was good and I did not have diabetes, even though I was overweight.  He scheduled me for a heart stress test for the day before surgery to make sure my heart could handle a surgery of this magnitude.  Now I start to worry if I have the strength to make it through the surgery, let alone the cancer.  This just keeps getting better and better.

I'll see you all again in a couple of days for the next entry... Thanks for reading along!