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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Second Treatment Entry 18

Getting a Feeding Tube (Last Monday July 5th)
I have cancer in my tongue and the upper part of my throat.
Surgery is not an impossible option,but, because it involves my tongue and vocal chords we have left it behind for now.

For that reason the treatment choice was to aggressively go after the tumour with chemotherapy, and when it shrinks as much as possible, finish it of with radiation.

Sounds good to me!

However, getting to that point in the road is not that easy. The first thing I have to keep on my mind is the importance of nutrition.

Bad enough having Cancer in your mouth , (It really hurts!) You have to eat to maintain a healthy weight and balance and to combat the effects of your treatment.

That's been a huge problem for me. My appetite is gone. No taste,Lots of pain - and ,after the first round of chemotherapy,I assure you you do not want to eat.
I had adjusted my diet to include all kinds of supplements and nutrients, but still,by the time I entered hospital last week,had lost another 8 lbs.
It was time for another adjustment. When I face radiation therapy my throat will feel worse. The doctors tell me that specific areas may respond quite strongly to what is going to happen,and that I will probably need some help with nutrition.
That time came earlier than we thought,and because I need to get some weight back right now,we decided to proceed with the insertion of a feeding tube. For the first hours all went well. I was getting used to the tube that has been inserted through the front of my stomach,the bloating that comes with the new liquid diet,and the cramping that sometimes come when the tube is flushed. These are just mixtures and adjustments - I can handle it .
Sunday evening when the feeding began, all was normal, but before long I started to feel really cold and began to shiver uncontrollably. I asked one of the nurses for a blanket and bundled up, but I knew that something was going wrong. It wasn't until we turned off the food supply that I was able to settle down and stop shivering.

Dr. St. Croix came in and immediately consulted with her colleagues in the St. John`s Cancer Clinic,and together they determined that my body had taken all the Chemo it could stand. Chemotherapy is alien and poison to the body to begin with. That's how it works...it gets in between the cancer cells when they finish their little cycles,and prevents them from replicating.

My chemo had reached the point where it has become toxic to my body. All my levels have dropped sooner than before, and even with neupogen (a white cell stimulant),my white blood cells continue to drop. Tomorrow I must try and eat again. This is all to be expected because you carry the effects of the last treatments into the next ones but
I experienced a perhaps the most uncomfortable and fearful night of my life last night.
Earlier this afternoon Dr. St. Croix made some adjustments with my medications. Things began to improve,and I do believe all will be better. I am on four antibiotics as well to prevent any infections from getting hold of me while I am so vunerable. The only people allowed in the room are the nursing caregivers,and they are required to wear gowns and masks to keep me safe from any germs from other rooms.
The nursing staff on this unit have been wonderful. I know some of them from my pastoral work here at James Paton,some from the community,and still others from our Church family at St. Martin's. The little visits,smiles and stories have been a great blessing .
The plan now is to move on to an MRI discover how much this tumor has shrunk,and begin my radiation treatments. We just have to make sure that it is safe for me to leave the hospital.

Earlier today,when I woke from a nap I engaged the Lord in a time of prayer. Sometimes when I pray, I don't speak (not even with my mind) but focus on an image of the Cross, or my Bible,or even St. Martin's. My goal is to allow God to begin the thought process of this time of Communion. Sometimes I see different people who I know in our Church Congregation or community,and I pray for them at that time.
This afternoon, the words of a poem I studied in university came to me. The poem itself is incredibly sad,for the writer, John Keats is telling the tale of how he has leave his love behind forever, because he must leave the country due to failing health.

That was in 1820,and the poem is entitled Bright Star.
Some of the lines in the first verse refer to a star,steadfast and true, watching the earth from far above. Watching the oceans wash on earth's shores: "The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores".
I love the thought of God's Spirit hovering over the water,and of natures touch -bringing healing and holiness to our broken world.
We do Ablutions after every Eucharist. The Priest and Eucharistic ministers present the Chalice to the presider , who lovingly and carefully cleans the Plate and Chalice of the Body and Blood of our Beloved Lord,so that it can be used again.
This was the image I received,and thanked God for today.
Shortly after,I needed to make an emergency dash to the bathroom,and needed help to get my self cleaned up. My beloved wife comes with towels and water,with love gentleness
and encouragement to perform her Ablutions. She not only represents herself and her undying love for me , but that of our children and family, and of God`s true Blessing in our midst. I am standing there,helpless,vulnerable,but I am safe. I Love you Karen
These are days of Love and Grace .
Thank You Lord


Sarah Holmes said...

Wow...! Oh and I love your description of how chemo works hehe! Stop those nasty little cancer cells in their tracks!
I'm praying for you in these helpless, vulnerable days... Days of love and grace! Drink it in my friend!!

Audrey Manning said...

Sending love and best wishes to you and your family.

Roz said...

Thinking about you very much every day. Praying that you will get through this and praying for your family. I keep Danette inform about you daily. She talks about when you always called her your little pumpkin. She sends her love and prayers to you and your family. I look forward to your blog and hope you get well very soon...

Marie & Joe Vaters said...

Hello Rev John or just plain old John to me. I am sitting here reading your blog and thinking this can't be happening to someone who I saw not too long ago and was so healthy looking. You are an amazing person. I remember the times that you were there for me and my family. The first person that I remembered seeing the morning mom passed away was you. You were there when I needed you. Rod moving to Wesleyville and just starting his career, both you and Karen were the best that two people could be to someone. I really appreciated that and never forgot it. Today it is our turn to be here if you need us. Rod will be home on Friday and hopefully by that time you will be feeling better and able to have visitors. I pray for you and your family every day. I think of Karen and how she is doing. She is a very strong person, but when it hits so close to home it makes it harder.
Just be strong and God will take care of the rest. We all love you and are praying for you and your family. Hope you get better real soon....
Sis and Joe

Stephanie said...

Hi Rev. John and Karen,
Just want to let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers every day.I have been out of town several days lately, but keep up to date on how you are doing. Have sent a couple text messages while away, but not sure if you received them.
Sorry to hear you have been going through such a difficult time. As you already know there will be many bumps in the road. I know it takes alot of strength and courage to face each day, but I know you can do it.
I also know Karen is there every step of the way. Although she isn't going through the physical pain and suffering I know it is very difficult to watch someone you love suffer and can take its toll on her also so I pray for strength and courage for her as well. With God's help you will get through this together.
Sending smiles,hugs and prayers your way with love.

Linda Mullaly said...

Hi John and Karen, I think of you and the ordeal you are living and it leaves me gut-wrenched,I read your blogs and am so humbled and inspired by your strengh and courage. I read somewhere recently...If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Please know that my prayers for you continue and in God we trust. Love to you both

brent_val said...

Hey Rev.John
Just a short note to let you know that I think of you often. I know you will conquer this bacause of your incredible faith and strength. Your insight on different things about life are very inspiring to me. I think that is why I enjoy your services when I am home. Anyhow....keep up the good work of battling this disease. I have a good feeling. Dad use to say to me even when he was sick,"Don't worry Valerie(he is the only person that called me by my whole name), everything will work out." Funny, it always did. I will continue to pray for you.

Take care
Val xx