Autobio, Health

C is for Cancer. My Own. My Mom’s. So Many Others.

I mentioned yesterday that I was diagnosed with carcinoid stomach cancer last May. I had surgery in June to remove the tumor. Since then I’ve been trying to get my GI system straightened out. It’s getting there.

Mostly it doesn’t seem real that I had cancer. It was found at stage one because I had an endoscopy to follow up on my long-standing GERD issues. It was surgically removed. No chemo, radiation, or immunotherapy. I had an all clear biospy in December.

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I started attending some classes at my local Cancer Support Community location, which help my back issues more than anything. The woman who led my orientation said she also had an “easy cancer,” a bit of an oxymoron but by comparison true. She just had surgery too. No recurrences. Fingers crossed I don’t have a recurrence either. I will get an endoscopy yearly for the foreseeable future. Maybe the rest of my life.

Fun fact: taking PPI medications has been correlated with developing carcinoid tumors. I tried to get off them but couldn’t manage the acid reflux without them (I have a muscle issue that currently can’t be fixed), and acid reflux is a worse problem than the minuscule odds of a recurrence of a carcinoid tumor.

Also fun fact: Carcinoid tumors are one of the rarest cancers, being diagnosed around 20,000 times a year in the U.S. Compare that to breast cancer, which is diagnosed about 320,000 times a year. Or blood cancers, which are diagnosed in around 160,000 people a year.

Eighteen years ago, my mom had renal cell carcinoma, diagnosed about 64,000 times a year. It was found early but, in removing the tumor, she did lose one of her kidneys. Just over a month ago, she found out she has a seven centimeter tumor in her pancreas. Subsequent tests later showed it was a recurrence of renal cell carcinoma and she also had tumors in her liver, along her spine, into her superior mesenteric artery, and on her thyroid. Clearly stage four. She starts chemo next week. I wrote a post about my thoughts shortly after she was diagnosed with the original tumor. Her prognosis is six months, or if she’s lucky, the meds will work and she’ll have however long the meds keep working and her body can tolerate them.

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I will be attending a GI Cancer Survivorship Conference next weekend. Given my social anxiety, we’ll see if I connect with anyone. If nothing else, it will be educational. The treatments for cancer have advanced so much in the last twenty years, even the last five. Who knows what is on the horizon for the millions affected by this disease and so many others?

What I do know is there are no easy answers for the toughest questions. Still, I believe life is beauty, life is suffering, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

You can find other A to Z Challenge blogs here.

8 thoughts on “C is for Cancer. My Own. My Mom’s. So Many Others.”

  1. Wow! Cancer is a tough word to even say. I am glad that yours was found early and were able to receive the all clear after surgery.
    What a crappy situation with what is happening with your mother. I did read your previous post. LIfe is hard.
    Once Upon a Time

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  2. There really is no easy cancer. I am glad that you are on the road to recovery. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. My husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012. He is still alive. It has been very difficult, though. We have 6 kids, 3 still young and living at home. So I feel for you and what your family is experiencing. It sounds so trite. I really can’t know what you are feeling. Your experience is unique. That’s one thing I’ve learned. But I am so terribly sorry that you are going through this. I too, have social anxiety. It really does help when someone else “gets it.” It makes talking to them easier. I hope the Survivorship Conference is a good experience and that you are able to make a good connection with someone.

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  3. My mom was lucky and had two easy cancers. One in her uterus and the other on her kidney. They removed the uterus and kidney completely so she didn’t have to do any chemo either.

    Good luck to your mom. I’m hoping she does well and keeps on kicking.

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  4. That is a really inspiring story. Cancer in itself is a terrible disease and to have your mom and yourself suffer it must have been so hard! It is really courageous and inspiring of you to talk about this. All the best for next week’s conference!

    I write on mental health as well. You can pass by and check it out.
    http://www.knightofsteel.com

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  5. So sorry to hear about your Mum. I haven’t been through any of this with my parents yet and it’s hard to imagine what it would be like. They’re my bedrock. My safety net. They’re like the air I breathe. I hope your Mum comes through somehow.
    I was curious to read that you have a muscle condition which exacerbates your GERD. I have an auto-immune disease which attacks my muscles called dermatomyositis. Your description sounded similar.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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