I have a decision to make.
The PET Scan in January showed “minimal residual disease”, which was of course great, good news. The CT Scan in early April showed essentially the same thing, so a biopsy, via an endoscope, was indicated to see if there was any cancer present, something I had about a month ago. Since then, we have been in discussion with my oncologist, who recommended a life-changing surgery, which offers the chance of a cure (i.e., cut out all the existing cancer, which unfortunately is still there), rather than additional chemotherapy, which is not curative but can prolong life. The surgery involves both a thoracic surgeon and a general surgeon and has potential complications of not only those associated with any surgery but also for this particular one; typically requires about a 10-14 day hospital stay; and is further complicated by my surgery history, i.e., I have mesh in the abdomen due to diverticulitis and a perforated bowel.
We’ve met with the oncologist and both surgeons, all of which took some time, and we’ve reached out to an oncologist and the thoracic surgeon at a different hospital for a second opinion from both, which also takes additional time. This morning, I have another PET Scan, Monday we meet with the second opinion oncologist for the second time (to discuss if a clinical trial is an option), and Wednesday we meet with the second opinion thoracic surgeon for the first time. To date, we do not have an appointment with a second opinion general surgeon and need to find out if this seems indicted. After that, I have to decide.
There’s just not enough information now to make a decision, perhaps not even a tentative one. Even so, due to various factors, I’m leaning against the surgery, although this may very well be the ultimate choice. I am fortunate enough to have loved ones to help me look at all sides and take, to the greatest extent possible, the emotion out of the equation. That includes Betty of course, who is with me on a day-to-day basis, but also daughter, son-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, all of whom have been encouraged to offer their advice and counsel, which I value; indeed, I am a lucky man to have such resources, and everyone has been helpful. I have a form of cancer that’s “difficult to treat and likes to come back”, so even if surgery were to get all of it now, that doesn’t mean this would settle the matter. The surgery would mean a difficult couple of months and some substantial life changes similar to bariatric surgery rather than some discomfort and fatigue from chemo (i.e., the next regiment would be an IV treatment once every two weeks for a couple of months), but which does not offer a cure. Yes, indeed miracles happen, and one should be sufficiently optimistic to expect miracles, but one cannot count on them.
Since no decision is also a decision, I’m setting a deadline (curious choice of words, that!) of the end of the month at the latest, and perhaps by this time next week.
It’s important for me not to keep secrets. Right now, at any rate, I am still in the race and expect to continue up to and perhaps beyond August 7th, the date of the Primaries. Certainly, I hope that those of you who are still with me up to this point, will continue to be with me, but I would understand if you feel it necessary look to other candidates.
As long as they are Democrats!