Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The "Results"

(Quotes in the title used intentionally.)

Drumroll please... and, the biopsy shows...

...wait for it...

Nothing. The biopsy results are inconclusive. After the last five days of waiting, now I have more waiting ahead of me.

To say that I'm frustrated is an understatement. I went down to the clinic at 9 this morning with Mom and Andrew, and truth be told, I was feeling pretty good. Mom and I had a long talk last night about how I really wasn't too concerned with the details -- just tell me what I have but really, let me know how I'm going to kick ass all over it to the tune of Tyson-Spinks back in '88. Don't give me any of the negative "You can't do this" crap, just tell me what I have to do, and I'll do it.

So here we are, a day later, with very few details more than we had last week. But there is some new info, so I will lay it out for you.

First off, there's no sugar-coating this baby in my stomach. It's huge. It's not an "oh my lord, it's the size of a golf ball" type of thing -- no, it's magnitudes bigger. It's in my stomach and waist and knocking around my intestines and most importantly, as Dr. Cecchi (the oncologist) drove home again and again, it's invaded my liver. And that's the big deal here.

We knew it had moved into the liver, but Dr. Cecchi's analysis is that its presence in there is a major complicating factor. We still don't know what kind of cancer it is yet -- the very likely culprits are still some sort of malignant sarcoma, but we're not sure -- but its invasion into the liver means that if it's a sarcoma, it's not going away, ever. It's in my liver for good, and that means that whatever the outcome here, I won't ever truly be 'cured' of cancer (until medical technology catches up enough to find a cure for this).

This is not a good thing, but it's not the end of the world. More on this in a moment.

The other complicating factor, according to the good Doc, is that if it's a sarcoma, it could have spread by blood to other parts of my body. To this end, he's ordering an MRI and PET scan to check out my brain and some other organs. I haven't had any brain issues that I know of (other than to blurt out some of the real jackass things that pop into my mind from time to time, and embarrass myself completely) and I feel great, but who knows what the scans will show. We'll just have to wait and see on that one.

So now you're probably thinking, "So, uh, where's the good news in all this?" Well, there is good news in its own way. First off, as blunt as he was (and that's his job), Dr. Cecchi made it clear that there are solutions here. First off, he wants to surgically cut out as much of the mass as he can. I'm really digging this concept -- would love to just get this crap out of my body immediately and then get down to the nitty-gritty of treating the remaining tumors with radio and chemo. Let's carve most of this away and pound on the rest until I'm in remission -- that's a scenario I like.

Not only that, but he didn't beat around the bush when Andrew asked him one-on-one what the timetables were for me on this one. Andrew did a similar thing with my GP last week -- asked him straight up if I was going to start having to count my remaining time in months or weeks -- and got the same answer from Doc Cecchi as he did last week: no, it's not about that. It's about exploring all our options, getting rid of this invader, and surviving. There are no other acceptable alternatives and neither doctor has proferred anything resembling a prognosis with the word 'terminal' attached to it.

The last bit of good news? Well, it's a stretch, but who knows -- the biopsy isn't confirmed, and maybe, just maybe, it's a much more treatable form of cancer that will leave me cured when all is said and done.

And, the capper -- we'll still be discussing this with the folks at Stanford, and they may (or may not) have some other solutions to offer. We'll see.

As for the Big Picture, well, it goes without saying this will be tough -- the hardest thing I ever have or ever will face. And if I have to spend the rest of my life with the proverbial Sword of Damocles over my head, living in remission and going in to check up every 3-6 months to see if I'm still healthy -- so be it. As I said above, living with cancer in remission is better than the alternative, so it's not the end of the world. And believe me that I'll be fighting to get to that point, through hell and high water.

I've received so many phone calls, emails and texts today asking about the results. If I haven't gotten back to you, don't worry and don't ever take it personally. Just know that I got your message, it means the world to me, and every bit of support boosts me up in this fight. I will end up speaking to you sooner rather than later, when things cool down a bit.

By the way -- a new drug hit my personal arsenal today, some Vicodin, to help with the stomach pain. The stomach has felt pretty good up until last night, but the tumor must have shifted because I couldn't sleep on my back too well. Between that and the Xanax, to quote a sorta-famous song from the Sixties, I've been Feelin' Groovy today.

I have a consultation with the surgeon on Thursday so I will let you know more then. Keep those emails and messages coming -- they are my life blood.

With much love,


Denis Faye said...

How frustrating!

Keep fighting the good fight, man. Your attitude blows me away.

Pat Bush said...

D! Hang tough and stick to the basics. Avoid the noise. You can take anything dealt to you. Be strong my brother.

Amy said...

d, bless you for just rollin' wit it! so much is out of your control and it is hard to be patient when you want them to work 24-7 and sadly, they do not. i am proud of you for playing the hand you've been dealt. and ya never know - you may even have some aces. silver linings, kid. like today when we shared a laugh as you refered to cancer that cannot be cured... by saying "it's kinda like herpes..." yeah, Dino, cancer is totally the new herpes.

Secret handshake,
Amy B!

Dino said...

Ames, glad you got a laugh out of that...

Melissa said...

Dino, You've been in my thoughts and prayers all day. I'm thinking of what I can say to continue your courage and positive attitude, but let's face it, you are encouraging me! I am so impressed by your go get 'em attitude, and especially your humor and flat out honesty. Thank you so much for sharing with us what's going on. You have certainly been dealt a tough hand, but God has absolutely handed out lots of miracles and healing... so keep up the hope and fight.

With love & continued prayers for you Dino, ~Melissa Byrkit (close family friend of knodel/carlson clan in Seattle)

Sandie said...

Thanks for keeping us posted on the process, Dino. I don't have anything profound or inspiring to add. Just know that you definitely have readers (what every writer thrives on, no?) and we give a hoot about this chapter and the next. Constant stream of positive, healthy vibes to you.

Looney said...

Hey, Dino, your bro-in-law Anthony here. T pointed me here. Thanks for sharing all of this. I'm thinking of you all the time. I put you on the prayer chain at church, and this Sunday I had half a dozen people ask me about you and we all prayed for you. T is gonna set up with your Mom for us to come up, I think the weekend after next. Anyway, you gotta get better quick and get back to work. I mean, how the heck am I supposed to get hooked up with games, dood!!!

Francesca Giessmann said...

Hi from the Alps in Switzerland ( that sounds so posh!) I am Fracesca, Amy B . friend and fellow NHL Stage 4 cancer survivor. This all sucks but it is all doable...
It will be hard, humbling and it will get you on your knees but you can have the last saying and look cancer is the eye and say: BACK OFF CANCER!!! You bitch, stay away, I got rid of you and dont come here no more! Cancer is better than herpes cause is not contagious ..
big kiss and stay strong!
PS: Ask for ATIVAN... the one thing I miss about chemo/cacner... yummy drug and I was in LALALALAL land
ciao an big hug

Dino said...

As always, thank you for all the great comments, keep them coming as often as you'd like. To the newcomers: Melissa, you're part of our extended crazy family already, and Francesca, Amy told me all about you -- thanks for checking in with your support, it means SO much! My love to you all!

Ross said...

For somebody who always has a comment about everything, I continue to feel tongue-tied. A stream of random thoughts course through my head, many of the rooted in my own personal fear: fear for you, fear of the illness, fear of how I might handle it myself. I harken back to a time in my life when I had a battery of tests and the fear I felt back then.

Situations like this show true character. There is definitely a Dino "personna" that we are all familiar with, the wry wit, the biting oneliners, the comments that bring silence to a room (in a good way). This shows me a different, more complete side of you. It shows me the volume of friends that you have around the world. It shows me a more complete image of your true self. You are a very rich man, Dino. But you already realize that.

I have no doubt that you will prevail in this battle. Thanks for letting us tag along in the journey.

Seana said...

Hey Dino - We are pulling for you! Having not yet completed your life's work of turning "Dino and Luke's Naked Chef" into a major motion picture Karma won't let anything happen to you. Stay strong - we send much love.
Seana & Dean

karin said...

Hey Kiddo:
Andi has been keeping the Love Family posted and she let us know today about the blog. Thankyou for sharing your journey with us. You know how much we love you and I want you to know that we're sending out all the good vibes. We want nothing more than for you to come out of this stronger than ever, but only cuz we need you on our team at the annual Christmas Trivial Pursuit competition. :)
Lots of love coming your way.

Jenee said...

Bigg Dogg -- I'm even checking in on you from Belgrade! Thoughts, love and hugs from all over the world. Jules and I will be in Montenegro on Monday, but I'll check in again to see if you have anything new to report... or to just read your latest thoughts. I am just waiting for you to start adding in random banter that has nothing to do with the C-monster... just because you have a very captive audience. And what does the Chimp-ass numbers monkey love more than a captive audience on whom he can bestow his wisdom?

Keep fighting the good fight.

Cathy said...

Hi Dino,

Another person you don't (or barely) know, Cathy from Philly/Carlos' grad department/wedding of Carlos & Betsy, who sent me your link.

I am so impressed with your attitude and your account of it all, and I'll be sending good thoughts your way. I hope your ass-kicking dream really has shown you what you have in you, and you keep feeling it.

All best, Cathy

DZARCH said...

Dino - rock on! Was thinking about the time you gave me a shiner on the bball court. An you thought I had elbows.

Thinking of you.