The surgeon who checked in on John this morning was concerned that his abscess had not been drained yet. He said that Monday was way too long to wait and he would definitely push for it today.
Just to give a bit of background, when they insert the tubes through his skin to drain the infected fluid from his abdomen, they use medical imaging for guidance. Apparently the CT scan machine that they normally use was undergoing maintenance, but by using ultrasound instead, they were able to do the procedure this morning. Thank You, Lord! What an answer to prayer. John came back to his room to find lunch waiting for him: jello, broth and orange juice.
It may take a few days for the abscess to be fully drained. By this evening, John said that his pain had already started to subside a little. We still haven’t heard when exactly he will be able to come home, but at least we are one step closer to that happening.
I know our church was lifting us up in prayer last night at the weekly prayer meeting, and many others were praying as well, so thank you! I’m so grateful to the brothers and sisters in Christ who have brought us meals and helped in practical ways (you know who you are). Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Today was Maggie’s birthday, by the way. Daisy’s was last week, and thankfully John was still at home then. Although he didn’t get to be with us in person today, he still joined in watching her open her present and blow out her candles via FaceTime. She was a very happy three-year-old. All in all, it was a very good day.
John wasn’t able to have the drains put in today. Unfortunately, unless there is a cancellation, he won’t be able to get them until Monday. At least his pain is under control and he is able to rest. His fever that he had last night is gone too. They moved him to the inpatient surgery unit this morning and are keeping him on a diet of ice chips so he will be ready just in case there is a spot to fit him in. Thanks for all your messages of encouragement and prayers. They mean a lot. Please pray that God will make a way for him to get the procedure he needs, that Lord-willing he can come home to us sooner rather than later.
John seemed to be doing so well last week, but over the past couple days the pain in his belly increased unbearably. Tonight, an emergency CT scan revealed that he has a 12-inch abscess in his abdomen, something that the ER doctor said tends to present itself around this time, two weeks post-surgery. It basically means that a great deal of pus is accumulating in his belly as his immune system mobilizes to fight infection. The pressure from the pus is causing his pain. Tomorrow they will drain it and likely give him antibiotics. He will have to stay in the hospital for four to five days. While I can’t say we’re thrilled about this, it is a relief to know the cause of his sudden severe pain and that they can fix it soon. I’m also thankful that he didn’t have to wait very long in the ER this afternoon. He went in around 2 and had the CT scan around 7:30. In the meantime, he got to be in a private room with his own bathroom and they gave him morphine to cope with the pain. The kids and I got to FaceTime him while we ate our supper (still no visitors allowed obviously). Please keep us in your prayers as we get through the rest of this week!
For the surgeon to be able to reverse my ostomy I needed to have two tests done: a sigmoidoscopy and a gastrograph. Here is a brief summary of my experience during each procedure.
My sigmoidoscopy was awesome! Well, except for the fact that I had a camera stuffed up my bottom. The doctor made sure I was able to see the camera screen as he gave me a guided tour of my sigmoid colon. It was really neat to watch, especially the beginning. I saw the outside of my bottom and then the next second he was navigating the camera through my colon. (Check YouTube if you are curious. I didn’t notice a “share” button on the camera screen.) Unlike a colonoscopy, they don’t usually sedate you for a sigmoidoscopy since they aren’t going too far inside the colon, so it was a little more unpleasant than a colonoscopy. The doctor didn’t see any issues preventing me from reversing my ostomy which means I passed test #1.
My gastrograph was not as “fun” as the sigmoidoscopy. Instead of a camera, they shoved a hose up my bum which was held in place by inflating a balloon on the end. They then proceeded to inject dye inside of me and take x-rays to check for leaks. While not the most pleasant of tests, my nurse was one of the nicest and friendliest ones I have ever had. (I actually have yet to meet a mean nurse, at least in K-W.)
I met with the surgeon to go over the test results on July 3. I passed both tests and signed the consent form for him to stuff my stoma back inside. He also took a look at my previous CT scans. This time when he was scrolling through my scans I actually could understand the majority of what he was saying and pointing out due to my hours of studying my own scans. He showed me my first scan from January 2019, and I could easily see all the “shadows” all over my liver which now appear to have mostly disappeared or calcified (my diagnosis, not the doctor’s).
I was originally told that the surgeon has about 100 patients ahead of me and it could take 6 months to get the surgery booked, but someone cancelled. My ostomy surgery is booked for July 28. The procedure sounds simple enough; the surgeon just pulls out my stoma, hooks it back up and then shoves it back in. I should be in the hospital 2-3 days, or using my last surgery as precedent that would be about 11 days.
Since I have the surgery booked I am officially on a break from chemotherapy until at least the middle of August when I next meet with my oncologist.
I will be meeting with my naturopathic doctor as well to see if we can prolong my chemo break with naturopathy. The longer I can avoid chemo the longer it has the potential to work and the longer I get to live.
The next post will likely be from Leanne as she will be sure to post an update after my surgery.
that the operation will go well and there will be no complications, unlike last time.
for Leanne as she will be taking care of 3 kids and a dog while I am in the hospital.
P.S. Toe is looking better. Still not quite healed but I expect my healing to improve dramatically now that I am off chemo.
On October 30 at 8am, Tony and part of my rectum will be removed. I’ll have an ostomy bag for a few months which doesn’t sound like much fun but it should be only temporary and it’s a lot better than being dead.
I’ll likely be in the hospital for a week. I’m planning to shave a few days off that though by recovering more quickly than expected. I just hope the Wi-Fi at the hospital is good enough to get some work done. With my ostomy bag I won’t even need bathroom breaks.
My rectal surgeon, the one I saw today, is the same surgeon who initially broke the news to me back in January that I was probably going to die. Well, today he was throwing around the word cure in various tenses. The sentence, “There is a chance you could be cured,” particulary stood out.
This is now the second doctor who has used that word cured to describe my condition. I find this quite interesting, considering that back in January every doctor I met kept telling me my cancer was incurable.
Praise the Lord!
My weight has been increasing significantly. Since I got off chemo I’ve gained another 20 pounds. I’m around the 170-lb. mark now which had been my typical weight for the past few years. Much better than my lows in the 130’s back in the spring. I’ve even cut back on the poutines.
We need prayer.
Please pray for my rectal surgeon. Pray that God will guide his hands and that everything will go perfectly with no complications.
Pray for my recovery too. I won’t be able to lift anything heavy, like children, for 6 weeks, so pray for Leanne as I won’t be able to help her out as much.
This is a significant step on my road to complete healing. My liver lesions will still need to be treated at a future date. Pray that God will continue to heal me.
My oncologist called me on Friday with the results of my liver MRI and what was discussed about my case at the tumour board that morning. According to the liver surgeons it sounds like they will be able to access my liver (no arteries in the way) to remove the lesions when the time comes. They do want to wait a few months, however, as they need to see what is happening in my liver over time once the chemotherapy drugs are finally out of my system. They need to determine if the other lesions on my liver are cancerous or not before they go in to operate. The lesions are spread out over my liver so they can’t just chop off a single lobe to get them all. Please pray that the other lesions are just scar tissue so the surgery will be easier and safer.
My oncologist has also booked me in for another MRI, this time a pelvic MRI. This will be sent to my rectal surgeon to see if Tony (the primary tumour in my rectum) is ready to be removed. I should be meeting with him a week or so after my pelvic MRI to discuss those results and the consequences of Tony’s removal. Please pray for wisdom and guidance for my surgeon. Pray that he will be able to remove Tony with minimal repercussions.
My oncologist did confirm that I won’t be on chemotherapy for awhile which is nice.
I still feel great. The frequent doctor appointments are the only things reminding me that I even have cancer.
I’ve actually only had a single chemo treatment this month so far, although my next one is this Friday. My oncologist gave me 2 weeks off for vacation. We rented a cottage up at Muskoka Bible Centre at the same time as my mother and my sister’s family. It was a nice, “work less” vacation for me. The kids had a great time playing with their cousins. For me, I think, the best part was the break from chemo. I’m feeling especially normal as it’s been 3 weeks since my last chemo treatment.
Last week I met with a genetic counsellor to begin the process of determining if I carry any cancer-related genetic abnormalities. It’s a little late for me but this may be valuable information for my children. The counsellor went over my family’s cancer history but didn’t notice any significant patterns that would indicate a genetic cause. She said you would expect to see a few cases of cancer in any family tree, especially as people get older, but hereditary cancer is relatively rare. My age is the main reason my oncologist referred me to the genetics clinic. I agreed to do the genetic testing since it is free and only required a blood sample. I will get the results in a few months.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I met with my oncologist and he talked about surgery again. According to the doctor I actually only have two more chemo treatments left and then I will be having a CT scan a few weeks later (likely at the end of August). As long as the nodules in my lungs have cleared and my liver lesions have shrunk, then he will present my case to the tumour board again to see if a surgeon is able to remove the liver lesions and the primary tumour or if more chemotherapy is needed. Either way, it sounds like I’ll have a multiple week break from chemo in August.
I appreciate your continued prayers as I finish off this round of chemo (the two remaining dates being July 26 and August 9). Please pray that the results of the next CT scan will be favourable and that God will continue to guide the doctors’ decision-making as He has been doing all along.