The fight for my life has not been glorious and has involved way too much “Toilet Time” for me to feel like a Viking. Still, if you know me then you know I have never doubted that if the odds of winning are 20% I am one of the ones who will win. I have never lost my will to live while kneeling or sitting on the toilet. Mostly kneeling in front of a toilet.
The nearly constant vomiting might be a condition particular to the type of cancer that I have and maybe some bad luck for me in where the tumor is. It was around this time last year that this battle began with certain foods, like bread, triggered an allergic reaction that would only end when I vomited up what was offending my stomach. Most foods were accepted by my stomach but it started with bread. I thought my stomach might be going through a mid-life crisis. I had heard about such things like that from old people. The body changes in unexpected ways. Maybe this was what was happening to me? Developing food allergies in my middle age? While I was trying to learn what I could eat and what I could not, while my stomach kept adding new things to reject to the list, I cracked a tooth and it got infected before I could find a dentist willing to remove it instead of trying to “Save” the tooth. That took four months and distracted me from going to my doctor about my newly insane stomach.
When I finally went to my doctor on my first day off from work of 2018 he was as confused as I was. Thinking that it could be “Celiac” disease I was sent to take the test for that which was to inhale something out of a paper bag. Whatever was in that bag got my tumor so angry that I was vomiting and dry heaving for almost a week afterwards. I do not have “Celiac” so the next test was to have my stomach looked at through a scope shoved down my throat. That doctor was the one who discovered the tumor and told me straight away, it is not a good tumor to have. I still did not know it was a STAGE 3 tumor yet, but I knew I had cancer. The STAGE 3 news did not hit me like a belly punch until over a month later. My insurance company and medical receptionists who are not happy to be medical receptionists all caused delays in my getting treatment that lasted until the beginning of March. Most of February was spent playing phone tag with people and getting “Consultations” instead of treatment. All this time, I was still vomiting and removing foods from my diet.
I lost 70 pounds, dropping from 220 to 150 in the year since I started fighting cancer. I did not really LOSE the weight, I threw it up. I was told that the tumor also burns up half of the calories that I consume, so it also took part in shrinking me. At 150 pounds I look like a prison labor death camp survivor. I also lost my beard, as a result of the chemotherapy. I shave my head, so I do not know how much hair I would have lost. I still have my mustache and my 2 “Hair Horns” that I started growing last Spring, but they have shrunk. Cancer has made me look sick and old. I need to buy T Shirts that tell everyone I am fighting Cancer so that they do not think I have something contagious.
The solution to stop the vomiting was that I now eat all of my meals through a tube that was surgically jammed through my abdomen into my stomach. I can not tolerate any food, or drink even, passing my tumor through my esophagus. The casual way my doctor told me he was going to do this to me nearly knocked me out of my chair. This one doctor is comically like a mad scientist. He always seems to have a million things on his mind and whenever I tell him anything like I am vomiting my brains out he replies that he was expecting that. He never tells me what he expects, but I will guess this is because there are so many horrible things that can happen it is not a good idea to tell me all of them because not all of them will happen to me.
The TUBE operation was way more complicated than they made it sound. It took me a week to recover from the surgery and then the hole got infected, which required the tube to be removed and replaced. The second tube came out of my body in my hands while I was taking the dressing off on the first night after the surgery, so I had to have a third quick operation to put another tube in. The TUBE food also gave me a bad case of diarrhea. This went on for a few weeks before one of the doctors told me to dilute the food, which worked. I wish I had been told that in the beginning. I was told to put the food in as is, so it was not as if I was not following instructions as I was poisoning myself.
The chemotherapy has not been bad. I had to have a PORT surgically implanted into my left sternum where they plug the chemotherapy tubes in. If I was not vomiting the entire time that I was there, the chemotherapy session would be much more pleasant. I just sit in a chair and let the chemicals drip into my body, stunting the growth of the tumor and causing it to eat itself because my body produces no new cells for it to consume. At least, that it what they tell me is happening. I do not know that the tumor is shrinking because I still can not use my esophagus.
That is the plan. Shrink the tumor, cut it out and pull my esophagus up as far as the space that the tumor left. The tumor did not spread through the esophagus, which is great news. After the tumor is gone, I can get rid of the tube and I have a long list of foods that I plan to eat.