September 25, 2001, Memorial Hospital
Six months into my battle with cancer, I no longer have the
stomach for it. ;-)
Last Tuesday, Dr. Daniel G. Coit decided to proceed and give
me a total gastrectomy, removing my entire stomach in five
hours of surgery. Everything went well, he said--in some cases,
better than expected. That he gave me the surgery at all was
good news. But the chemo appeared to have degraded the main
tumor more than the CAT scans had indicated, and there was
no visible spread of cancer beyond the stomach, even in the
area where a metastatsis had previously been found. Even though
I feel like crap now, I'm supposedly ahead of schedule for
patients who've had similar surgery. So all in all, I can't
I've had to caution many friends, however, against overreacting
to the news. To use a sports analogy (sorry, but I just spent
an entire weekend lying in bed watching football), the surgery
was kind of like this: We're in a hellacious football game
against this band of marauders. We're down, but we're scratching
and clawing, doing our damnedest to stay close. Now it's fourth-and-long.
If we punt, the ballgame's likely over. So we go for it--and
convert to keep the drive alive.
That's cause for cheering, to be sure, but we've got a lot
of work ahead of us yet to pull this one out. I always dislike
those players who whoop and holler after making a catch for
a first down and then drop the ball on the next play. Stay
analyses of the abdominal area have tested positive, for
example, for live cancer cells, detectable
only on the
microscopic level. Eventually, those will become a problem.
Thus, we're already on to the next phase of treatment. Starting
today, I'm to receive chemotheraphy poured directly into my
gut--the docs call it a "chemo belly bath"--designed
to hammer at those cells still remaining.That's to continue
for three straight days, to be followed by another three-day
bath in two weeks. After that, it's new rounds of regular chemotherapy
via the bloodstream.
There's also the matter of relearning how to eat. Since my
surgery, the only thing allowed to touch my lips has been a
sponge-swab dipped in water. It'll be a few days before doctors
say they'll try and restart me on liquids and jello. In the
meantime, I'm being fed through tubes--an IV in my arm and
a rubber hose sticking out of my lower abdomen.
Not to mention I've got to heal a 15-inch bell-shaped scar
stapled together over the top of my abdomen.
Which is all to say that I'm glad to still be in the ballgame
with time remaining on the clock and a new set of downs to
Here comes the blitz.
Bring it on.