Nov. 2007 – After CT scans, ERCP and EUS (procedures to place a stent and biopsy the tumor), the Doctors confirm the diagnosis; Pancreatic Cancer, Stage IV, 6cm tumor in the head of the pancreas (pressing against the Superior Mesenteric Artery, 8-12 metastic lesions in liver, and local lymph nodes involvement, ...GI Doctor and Surgeon both give me 3 to 6 months to live!
Dec. 2007 – After confirming the diagnosis with their own CT scans and examinations I started the GTX treatment protocol under the guidance of Dr. David (MD Anderson Cancer Center - Houston Texas). Dr. Dave doesn’t give expiration dates…we (Missy, me and Dr. Dave) set Sarah’s wedding date as our first goal June 21st 2008. Dr. Dave also told me that I needed to gain weight (I was at a healthy 223lbs) because the cancer makes people lose weight and he wanted me heavier.
Feb. 2008 - CT scan reveals great improvement - can't find the spots on the liver, tumor in head of the pancreas has shrunk by half, lymph nodes appear normal. This is unheard of! Dr. Dave was VERY pleased. Missy and I were ecstatic! (Weight 235lbs)
April 2008 – CT scan results: Still no spots on liver, more tumor shrinkage! (Weight 250lbs – Dr. say’s, “put on some more”)
June 21 2008 - Walked my oldest down the aisle at her wedding!!! CT scan two days later reveals no spots, Pancreas appears normal in size and function!!! (weight 275)
Sept. 2008 – CT scan reveals that there is no longer any vascular involvement, everything else normal too!! Doctor tells me to STOP gaining weight! I was at 285!!!
Nov. 2008 – Dr. Dave switches me to MRI exams instead of CT scan to get a better look at the Liver and Pancreas to make sure that the cancer is not coming back. The scan reveals “all normal”! Now we are starting to worry that the Chemo is going to kill me, not the cancer!! Blood tests for liver function (AST and ALT) have been rising but go out of the normal range for the first time. Dr. Dave suspects that the PC is not the culprit, but rather, my chemo or my weight!!!
Jan. 2009 - MRI reveals that there still are no lesions, but blood work reveals that the AST/ALT numbers are still climbing. I was still taking the GTX Chemo - cycle 20.
Jan. 16 2009 – Blood test reveal that the AST and ALT are still climbing. To give the liver a break we suspend all chemo for 5 weeks to see if the liver will improve. I feel great, fewer side effects than ever.
Feb. 20 2009 – Blood test show a slowing of the climb that the AST/ALT have been doing. However, Dr. Dave wants me back on chemo, so I started back on the GTX.
March 09 2009 – MRI reveals, still no sign of cancer anywhere! But the blood tests are still not great so Dr. Dave wants to cut out the Gemzar and Taxotere from the GTX to see if these two drugs are having an effect on the liver. So, we are cut back on the Chemo to give the liver a rest (just taking Xeloda). Re-evaluate in 6 weeks.
Apr. 3 2009 – Blood test show no change in rate of climb of the AST/ALT, all other numbers look great! I am still feeling wonderful. Missy, Rachel, Melissa and I did the Disney trip in the middle of March. My weight has crept up to 297. I’m having a problem with the weight!
Apr. 24 2009 – Blood test show that the AST and ALT are still climbing. Of course, I have been studying the problem for weeks now on the web, and have learned just enough to be dangerous! Dr. Dave, Missy and I were all discussing what could be the cause of this problem and just how bad is the problem…after all we have been talking about nothing else for months. So I ask Dr. Dave where I stood on the liver failure scale (something I learned about on the web). Was I a “one”, or a “two” or worse? He looked at me like I had “two” heads!! Seem that this problem is a long ways away from liver failure or the stages of failure…for a second there I could read his mind. He must have been thinking about some other patient because I got a clear reading of “Dumb Ass”!
So, after he got me straight about the liver numbers we went on to discuss what else other than just the Chemo could be affecting the ALT/AST. We looked up all the med that I’m currently taking, not had any warnings about liver problems… other than the two we had already stopped taking, the Gemzar and Taxotere. Finally, I asked if it could be caused by being so overweight? He said that that definitely was a possibility. So we talked about diets to lose some weight…Dr. Dave wants me to lose 25 lbs. He is still wants me to keep the weight up! I told him that that was ridiculous that I needed to lose about 75 lbs. We compromised at 50 lbs. Will I go to hell for lying to an Oncologist?