As you can imagine, I’ve been doing lots of research on cancer, treatments, diet, etc. Here are a couple interesting articles I’ve come across.
- Adjuvant Chemotherapy : This article explains the type of chemotherapy that I’ll be receiving. The underlying message is that adjuvant chemo is designed to reduce the risk of cancer returning.
- The Median Isn’t The Message : An interesting article about cancer survival statistics from a scientist who was given 8 weeks to live and survived another 20 years! Gotta love living on the edge of the statistical curve! For what it’s worth, there’s been no talk of survival statistics in my case. As far as I’m concerned, I have a lifetime still left!
I’ll post more interesting information as I come across it. If you have any suggested articles for me to read, you know where to find me!
Today I got my JP Drain removed! It’s basically a tube that was inserted into my abdomen to help collect fluid and blood from the surgery that was done inside. It was kinda a pain to have because the insertion point was right at my waistband, which made for a limited amount of clothes I could wear. The tube also tended to get caught on stuff, and it made showering difficult. But, it’s gone now, and I’m good to go!
In case you’re interested in more details on this : Wikipedia JP Drain
Sent : September 27th, 1:50 AM (Mark)
I hope everybody has some amazing stuff planned for this weekend! If nothing else…a nice nap to catch up from the hectic week.
On Friday I had a PET scan and got some great news – NO CANCER! It appears that my surgeon did a superb job of removing all the detectable cancer from my body, and for that I am super grateful to her and God! This is the best news we could have hoped for! Keep in mind, though, that the PET scan only detects clusters of cancer cells, so there could still be rogue cells hanging out in my body. Thus the need for chemotherapy.
Next week I have an “Octreotide Scan” to check one more thing, but my doctor believes it should also be negative. I’ll be starting chemotherapy on October 20th to take care of any undetectable cancer that might be hanging out in my body. I’ll spend the next three weeks continuing to recover from my colon surgery while taking a break from work. I hope to resume work on the 20th as well (or maybe a couple days after that).
I continue to be amazed and grateful to God in this whole endeavor. Your prayers have uplifted me and without a doubt have helped me heal. Thank you for that.
Have an awesome weekend!”
Sent : September 22nd, 8:33 PM (Mark)
I hope everybody is having an amazing week so far! Both Samantha and I are recovering beautifully. Samantha is still in some pain, but that’s to be expected at this point. I’m feeling wonderful, and am raring to get back to work or do something outside! But, I’ll continue to keep things low key to ensure a complete and speedy recovery from the operation.
Michelle and I visited my oncologist today, Dr. Richard Rosenberg. This is the same doctor that Karl Mason was using, and we are delighted that he can by my doctor as well. He spent well over an hour with us providing us with all the details of my particular case, as well as explaining the various treatment options.
In true Fleming fashion, my case is somewhat normal but with a unique twist! Basically, there are two types of cancers that were found during the pathology of what was removed during surgery : an adenocarcinoma, which is kind of a basic, common cancer cell, along with a less common carcinoid cancer. In fact, one of the lymph nodes showed a hybrid of these two. Dr. Rosenberg was a bit taken back, because in his 20 years of doing his work, he’s never seen these two together before! Apparently people usually have one or the other, but very few people have both. Gotta love being unique!
The treatment for my case would be the same whether I had one or the other type. I’m basically looking at 6 months of chemotherapy…12 two week cycles. I’ll be undergoing the Folfox regime, which is combination of three drugs : Folinic Acid, Fluorouracil, and Oxaliplatin. It’ll be the typical two week cycle, where I do chemo one week, then rest the second week. The “on” week will start with about 5 hours at the office getting infused with that healing cocktail, and then I’ll wear a pump for the next two days that will keep me going with 46 hours more of the Fluorouracil. Then I’ll go back to the office to have the pump removed. Easy peasy!
All this will be delivered via a portacath that I’m having installed tomorrow. “Installed”…that sounds like I’m getting a Borg device or something. Cool!
Dr. Rosenberg likes to start the regimen 5-6 weeks after surgery. So, we’ll start mine right after Fall Break, which means I get some time in California before this all goes down!
Side effects you ask? The usual, and nothing I can’t handle : hair loss (“usually not”), nausea (“uncommon” he says – I’m sure people would beg to differ), fatigue (“mild to moderate”), a few types of neuropathy (“cold sensitivity, muscle aches, numbness and tingling in the extremities.”) I can think of many worse things than these.
I think that about sums it up! With your continued prayers and thoughts I’m gonna kick this thing big time! I honestly can’t wait to get started so I can be done, stronger, and ready to live life for God!
With much love,
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Sent : September 15th, 10:25 AM (Mark)
I just got a call from my doctor with the biopsy results and, while they are not good, they are not unexpected.
As she suspected, I have Stage 3 Colon Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. During the surgery she was able to remove all the present tumors, and biopsy all of the additional polyps she found shows them to not be cancerous. Of the two lymph nodes she removed, one was cancerous, and the other appears to just be inflammatory. So, the good news is that there is no “new” cancer other than what we already know about, and which has already been removed from my body.
I’ll be meeting with an oncologist this week to discuss the details of my treatment going forward, which as far as I know will be chemo therapy.
This certainly wasn’t the outcome we had hoped and prayed for, but it’s not unexpected at all. I’m confidently moving forward on the belief that the chemo will make me cancer free for the future. I’d ask that you continue prayers for that, and for my recovery as a whole. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that I’ve been doing as well as I have so far because of your prayers, and for that I am immensely grateful!
I hope everybody is having a wonderful day, and that you have a great week!”
Sent : September 19th, 12:14 AM (Mark)
I’m hoping this finds everybody engaged in a fun and restful weekend!
Just a quick update on things. First, I’ll start with Samantha. She had her tonsils removed on Friday, and is doing amazingly well! Her doctor confirmed that it was good to have them gone because there was some infection residing behind each one. We’re super blessed to have had a great doctor in this case, and are continuing to pray for a speedy and amazing recovery. I missed hearing her sing tonight during her showing, and can’t wait until she does so again!
I also met with my surgeon on Friday to follow up on things. My abdomen, the incisions, and the stoma all all looking good. So good, in fact, that I’m now cleared to drive! It might be a bit before I take the Jeep out, but at least I can drive out to get a burger or something.
We discussed the pathology report for everything she took out during the surgery. Turns out that about 6 of the 25 lymph nodes they biopsied showed signs of cancer. My surgeon is a bit concerned about how aggressive the cancer appears to be. I do have an appointment with an oncologist (Dr. Rosenberg) on Monday, and am scheduled to get my portacath (the port for the chemo drugs) installed on Tuesday afternoon. I should know after my visit with the oncologist exactly what my chemo schedule will look like.
As far as I’m concerned, we’re still 100% on track for recovery. My surgeon believes that she got out all the physical cancer in the body, and I trust that she did. I trust the chemo will destroy any lingering cells. And I trust that God will be there every step of the way as we walk this new walk.
Today I got my Verse of the Day from YouVersion, and it was this:
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT
That sums it up for me. I am confident that, with your prayers and thoughts, He will get me through this. I’ll continue to lean on Him for the duration of this and forever after. All is good!
Mark and Michelle”
Sent : September 11th, 2:03 PM (Mark)
Sent : September 9th, 3:48 PM (Michelle)
The surgeon met with us this morning to go back over surgery details. She confirmed that she did take his appendix out. The tumor was actually growing onto the appendix. She emphasized the seriousness of this because if the appendix had ruptured (which she said it was on the verge of) the cancer cells would have literally exploded into his body and spread everywhere. We praise God for a timely surgery and eliminating this concern we didn’t even know was there! I love how He shields and protect us from things that we just do not need to even know about. The surgeon did explain again about the aggressive nature of the tumor and her thoughts on what stage cancer and so forth. However, we know nothing of certainty yet so we aren’t jumping to any conclusions. We will continue to trust God for whatever the biopsy results show and just tackle one day and one challenge at a time. Mark is so awesome at just graciously accepting the way things are, including his “new normal”, seeing the positive side to this all as well as focusing on one thing at a time.
Mark is truly blowing all the nurses away. He is up and around, eating solid foods and already learned Ostomy Essentials 101. He needs to rest and drink fluids and keep taking little walks. Tomorrow they hope to start unhooking him from everything and see how independent he can be. All of your prayers for a speedy, minimal pain recovery are all being answered in huge ways.
We are just blown away by all of the kind emails, notes, visits and calls. We just feel so covered in prayer and love. Truly, in the midst of all of this, our dominating feeling is blessed joy. We know God is working it all together and as our dear pastor reminded us this morning, this is just a blip of time in all of eternity. We are made for so much more and our present sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed. I’m not pretending that this will wipe away the pain or sorrow or the reality of the struggles of the day. Life is hard…really hard…and some days it truly is all we can to just get through each moment. However, we try to keep some perspective, find the blessings and joy, because they are always there in some way, and stay focused on eternity. God’s got this…and He very well knows what He is doing.
Michelle (and Mark!)”
This post starts a series of email updates that were sent out during my time in the hospital and things that have happened since then. If you didn’t get the original emails, you can read about them here!
Sent : September 8th, 11:40AM (Michelle)
They just took Mark back to pre-op. He is doing fantastic! He was SO happy with the crazy rain we had on the way here. He felt like God was gifting him with it…just pouring out His goodness, mercy and provision all over us and flooding us with His unending love. I’m sure the rest of town doesn’t really appreciate it near as much as Mark does – he doesn’t have to drive in it!
I cannot even begin to express our gratitude for all the prayers, love and support we have felt. We truly are overwhelmed, in the best way. We feel great peace and assurance that God is good. That He is, without a doubt, working all this together for good and that we are incredibly blessed beyond measure. We cannot even begin to imagine doing this without Jesus nor without each one of you and your love for our family.
We just cannot say thank you enough. All glory to God for His faithfulness.”