A recent trip to Cabo San Lucas found Barbie and myself enjoying four nights in a paradise! Gourmet food, infinity pools, a luxury hotel suite overlooking the crashing Pacific surf. Life felt great and we felt this trip was a reward for the blessings that had been bestowed on us.
The trip was a celebration of an initial six-week inhibitor treatment that had reduced the size of my cancerous tumors by over 50%! To describe my wife and I as happy with the results of our prayers, new-found faith and hundreds of friends who had prayed for my successful treatment would be a gross understatement. The results almost started me feeling like I had passed the hurdle of death for a little bit. God was providing us with a life saving result of my cancer treatment. Began to feel like superman.
We returned to Las Vegas for a few days and then headed back to Normal, Illinois to share our joys with friends and family. I was feeling strong and better than good. Stupidly, I was starting to feel invincible to this stage- 4 cancer.
After returning to Normal for a two-week visit, I went to sleep for my first nights sleep in our old comfortable bed. As I sank into the comforter, I felt the cool air-conditioning all night blowing on myself and thought that this was nice compared to the 110 degree plus temps we had been used to in Vegas. I woke up the next morning with a chill, slight temperature and my voice was very hoarse. To me, no big deal since I had slept under an a/c vent all night. I then spent approximately four hours completing an anticipated legal deposition on Monday. When I got back home Barbie insisted that we see a doctor immediately because of my elevated temperature.
Initially I ignored this and thought I had set the a/c a little too low; however, I was sure this symptom would shortly disappear. Barbie immediately disagreed and reminded me that I had been losing my voice for a few days. She also didn’t believe the air-conditioning draft was the problem. When she took my temperature she saw it was 102. She then wanted me to go to the emergency room to check it out. I informed her that I would likely get sick from being in the emergency room waiting area more than sleeping under a cooling vent. I even spoke with a physician who I convinced that I should wait until the next day at least. I went to bed. The next day, by four o’clock I was becoming progressively worse. I finally agreed to go to the hospital. To my surprise they immediately placed me in intensive care and started to monitor my condition closely, after 10-hours they put me in a room. I was slipping into septic shock, Barbie had been correct, should have went to hospital the night before! I was feeling progressively worse.
When I woke in the hospital the next morning I commented that I felt like I was dying. I had lost all appetite, had my temperatures fluctuating to 103, my blood pressure had dropped like a rock and I realized I had made over 20 trips to the bathroom the night before. I was on two-iv delivered antibiotics and continued to feel worse. The iv’s were not working and I was going into septic shock. (I know realize over 50% of those who encounter septic shock die.)
After days of tests, while a few of the nurses considered this Montezuma’s revenge, an infectious disease physician, hospital doctor and my oncologist knew better. I didn’t even realize what septic shock was or how serious it might be. I did think if I could beat an aggressive cancer, I sure could shake this Montezuma’s revenge! Then my doctors stopped the two antibiotic drips and changed to a different antibiotic, within half an hour I started to respond; however, I had another rough night. By the morning I was getting my appetite back and even commented how “good” the hospital food was!
I’m lucky for one thing, a wife who is watching out for my well-being. Unlike me, Barbie listened to every doctor and nurse and sat with her phone googling every symptom. Barbie’s actions saved my life. My ignorance of the symptoms and my initial refusal to seek medical assistance nearly cost me my life.
After this colitis and an infection in my kidneys, I guess it was Montezuma’s revenge in it’s purest form. Next day I walked out of the hospital, turned up temperature at home. I felt great again and ready to continue this fight against cancer.
I do realize that my next full-body scan is early August and the third scan in October; however, I am pumped and have four things to be grateful for.
- Everyone’s prayers that I would qualify for a continued, successful experimental treatment along with God’s answer to these prayers.
- The remarkable research team at MDanderson Cancer Center in Houston who created a new drug that attacks bladder cancer and everywhere that it spreads.
- More time to love this great life and those who are important to me. I now consider that the most valuable part of my life.
- A loving wife/partner who constantly watches for my best interests, both medically and spiritually. (It’s sometimes a bitch to realize your wife might know more than you do!)
Here is a tip for all of you who have a loved one or friend suffering from late stage cancer, we do appreciate your prayer and the renewal of our faith; however, don’t tell us how sorry you are we have cancer. Afterall, you don’t have cancer, we do.
Another takeaway for myself, time to make my next adventure in the USA, I hear Glacier National Park calling my name.
Don’t wait til tomorrow to enjoy your life and family. I now realize that no one is guaranteed anything more than the day you have today. Tell your children that their life is what they make it. Illustrate your life as a guide to others, do what needs to be done. You will be remembered by your actions, thoughts and words. Time to be kind. (Also time to drop the guy knows more than his wife attitude constantly.) God Bless
Incidentally, the six weeks of treatment cost $14,000.00 for each treatment. (Times 6 equaled $84,000.00!) Unfortunately these treatments had little effect on my aggressive bladder cancer which had spread from my bladder, to both kidneys and to my lungs. I could spend quite a while discussing the excessive costs of chemo, but that would be another blog for another time.