Friday, July 31, 2009


A young man who works for me is facing a terrible time. He is in his mid-30's, married with one child 2 years old and a baby on the way due in October. His children are his life, pictures abound his office, we are bombarded with pictures of his wife and daughter, almost ad nauseum.

Many months ago he was diagnosed with a growth in his abdomen that doctors felt was more of a cyst than anything and attached no importance to it other than they told him when he was ready they would surgically remove it for him. He was in no hurry but felt it should get taken care of sometime soon.

When his wife became pregnant for the second time he felt he would like to have the little issue behind him before the arrival of #2. So he scheduled the surgery. During the course of the pre-op work up a small mass was found at the base of his esophagus as it enters his stomach. In addition, a suspected tumor was discovered in his shoulder. Some more tests indicated the small mass at the base of his esophagus was cancerous, but had not spread to the underlying tissue so a resection of the esophagus would fix that. In the meantime during a pet scan they found a spot on his liver. A second CT scan with a dye enhancement did not find the spot on his liver, so one test said yes, another said no. They decided to do a needle biopsy of the tumor in his shoulder. They said the CT scan indicated some calcification, so being a local professional wrestler in his youth he felt he had injured his shoulder so often that it was probably some form of scar tissue.

The test came back, no it was also cancerous. At first they felt that it was two different types of cancer both localized. Late last week they found that the cancerous polyp in his esophagus and the tumor in his shoulder were the same cancer, so metastisis had taken place.

He is supposed to begin a chemotherapy regime next week with the intention of shrinking the tumor in his shoulder and esophagus, then at some future time he will undergo surgery to remove the two growths from the sites.

Today he is having a liver sonogram to find out if there is something there or not, after all one test was positive, one negative. They are doing a echocardiogram to ascertain the strength of his heart as the chemo does do some heart damage and they want to know if his heart will withstand the side effects. They are also going to do a brain scan to determine whether or not there is another problem area.

He and I talked yesterday. The odd thing is he has no symptoms. The doctors are puzzled because each tumor by itself they would diagnose as a Stage 1 cancer with a fairly high level of success in treatment. However, two locations indicated metastisis take the cancer to a Stage 4 with a survival rate of one year or more at less than 5%. So on the one hand the doctors are confused because they feel he should be having some symptoms, yet he has none. They have not ruled out the liver yet, and we shall have to see what the brain scan indicates. I hope and pray his will be OK. He has too much going for him, his family is in growth, and his wife is a very emotional person anyway. Right now his attitude is he will be OK. However, I also know that in the dark of night when everyone else is asleep your eyes pop open and you begin to wonder. You begin to speculate and of course your mind turns to dark thoughts. It is scary. I am scared for him.

I do not know how I will act if the news isn't good. I've had people I've known die of cancer, my mother died of breast cancer. However she was in the hospital two weeks before she died and I was stationed in El Paso, TX at the time so I did not see her during the waning days of her life. I know I will be positive and strong for this young man. He is a good guy and I hope he turns out OK.

Oh yeah, the cyst in his abdomen. It was an infection, they have finally found the right combination of antibiotics and the cyst is about gone. Perhaps God put it there so they'd find the other stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty incredible, that the cyst is the reason why they started all the tests to begin with.

    I wish the best for him and his family.