It’s been almost two years since my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It’s been almost two years since my world has been turned upside down. During this time, my father has had a total gastrectomy, a port-a-cath surgery, six cycles of chemotherapy infusion that lasts 54 hours each time, a year of target therapy infusion called Herceptin twice monthly, twenty five rounds of radiation that possibly saved him while damaging his pancreas for life, and one blood transfusion a year after surgery. He has lost twelve teeth, 75 pounds of weight (dropping down to 97 lbs at one point) and at times his dignity. In these two years, my father has endured many tests as well. When he was first diagnosed, he had a colonoscopy, three anesthetic endoscopies with biopsies, an Endoscopic ultrasonography (to check for lymph node involvement- which there was), two CT Scans and a PET Scan. After his stomach removal surgery, he got had his first annual endoscopy and eight re-staging CT scans. And I have sat beside him this entire time.
Now the re-staging scans called computerized tomography check to see if the stomach cancer came back. Hence, that’s why they call it re-staging because with my father’s type of stomach cancer recurrence is 86% likely. Yes, crazy to think that we have gone through all this for a 14% chance of survival!! Gambling seems to have better odds! So, the scans basically answer the question- Has the treatment worked? The scan itself takes about 10 minutes to perform, but waiting for results seem like a lifetime. And for my dad, our oncologist ordered the scans every three months. EVERY THREE MONTHS.
For the past two years, we have planned our life in three month increments. And really, if you sit and think about it, it’s more like 2 month increments because the stress leading up to the scans can be debilitating, and then the scan anxiety over the next 48 hour period is nauseating. As a caregiver, I can honestly say that it is nothing short of torture. On one hand I want to stay positive and upbeat, but on the other hand I also know the reality of stomach cancer. It just doesn’t care. Statistics doesn’t lie and they aren’t subjective. Stomach cancer is the second deadliest cancer for a reason.
The little silver lining that I’ve learned over these past two years is that the only important thing in life is LOVE. It’s all about family and friends — because careers, money, society status, fashion—none of it matters. Life is about enjoying the now and surrounding yourself with lots and lots of LOVE. And I thank everybody in my life that has stood by me whether giving me a shoulder to cry on or giving me space for privacy… These last two years have been … awful yet surprising beautiful. You cannot believe how much my father’s willpower to live has been beyond inspiring. I am so proud!
Well, without further ado, you guys probably want to know the results from my father’s Sep 21st, 2015 scans. He is still showing NO EVIDENCE of DISEASE. This is the best news we can get until we hear the words CURED. In fact, my father’s oncologist has now changed the re-staging scans to every 6 months. That’s 6 months of extra time to plan for life!! Yay! He even said the port-a-cath can be surgically removed as soon as NOW! He’ll still get his annual endoscopy (next one coming soon in January 2016)- but the game plan is changing for the better!!