One of the things that I have noticed over the past couple of months having all these fancy tests done on these big expensive pieces of machinery is that the exam rooms are all freezing cold. To combat the frigid air in the rooms, the facilities offer you these heated blankets. These things are awesome. If you ever have to go into the hospital for any reason and they offer you one of these blankets, take it or you will regret it. It doesn’t matter if you are cold or not, these things have special powers or something. You feel better almost instantaneously.
I am not sure what is worse, though: the preparation or the tests themselves. I have always been a big eater and skipping a meal just wasn’t something that I ever did. In order for some of these tests to be accurate, the instructions state that I wasn’t to eat any solid foods for several hours prior to the procedure, usually 8 to 12 hours. I wasn’t allowed to have anything in my stomach or my colon. They didn’t want anything trying to push the scopes back out, if you know what I mean.
Living in a house where gourmet meals are prepared nightly for dinner, the sweet aroma of food fills the air, making it that much harder for me to follow instructions. Breakfast hours are typically accompanied by some sweet smells as well. It’s not like I couldn’t fill up on chicken broth and liquid jello, but you can image how unsatisfying that would be when you are sitting at the same table as somebody with a plate full of eggs, bacon, buttermilk biscuits with homemade jam, and fresh fruit. There was also no hiding from the scent of freshly brewed French vanilla coffee.
The week is moving pretty fast and I am bouncing from one exam room to the next. Each test has its own specific purpose, which is to give us detailed information about the size and severity of Trudy. After a colonoscopy followed by an ultrasound as well as a pelvic MRI, Friday morning’s PET CT was the final test. Not expecting to hear the result until after the weekend, surprisingly the call comes in around 10pm Friday evening. Turns out, Trudy is quite the aggressive little tumor. I am told that I have stage 4 colorectal cancer and that the tumor has made its way all the way through the tissue of the colon and is starting to effect the muscles on the pelvic wall. As if that wasn’t enough, greedy little Trudy has also made her way into the lymph nodes of the pelvis and she has also traveled up into the liver. Somewhere along the way we determined the definition of Trudy is “strong spear.” I’ll say…
As you might expect, this news was pretty devastating for my family and me to hear. Several hugs, a few tears, and a good night’s sleep later, I wake up with that same unbelievable inner peace that I experience when I was first diagnosed with cancer. This battle is going to be a lot tougher than originally expected, but I am ready for the challenge. The bigger the battle, the bigger the victory, the bigger the celebration. Now we must start meeting doctors and select the team that is going to be managing each phase of this treatment. Right now we are looking at a four stage regimen that should take somewhere in the ballpark of 9 months: 1) chemo for 2 months 2) chemo with radiation for 6 weeks, followed by 6 weeks of “cool off” time 3) multiple surgeries with approx 12 weeks of recovery 4) 4-8 weeks of chemo. Does anybody know if Santa makes trips to the hospital?