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CANCER: An Uncensored Journey

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SharynS
Post Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:57 pm

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 3623
Location: the 'puter
...imagine if corporations took the high road.

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Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. - Salman Rushdie
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:34 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
True enough, Sharyn, but at this stage of the game I'd be gratified if they just stayed downwind...

Cool
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:24 pm

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
So, how does one celebrate?

It has been slightly more than three years since my original episode and cancer diagnosis, slightly less than three years since I took the first round of chemotherapy (and radiation).

The original prognosis was a five-year lifespan. As it stands at the moment that appears to be accurate. Pretty easy math, even for a night-crew guy. Wink

So how does one celebrate?

Spent three days in hospital two weeks ago ramming chemicals into such veins as are still availible and avoiding hospital food.
Spent a week's vacation after tearing the living crap out of my lower back while vigorously blowing chow in said hospital.
Spent this past week back to work courtesy of Vicodin and the Safeway back-brace we were given years ago (which I managed to find, conveniently if not miraculously)...and "thank you's" to the crew for helping me out and putting up with the irritability factor. Especially you, Shirl.
Spent all the above time trying to figure out how to put more weight on (I'm just under 200#) while not spending all my time in the head...any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them. Been taking a tiny daily blast of a prescription that tastes like stale maalox - it is alleged to improve one's appetite. The jury is still out on this one.
Spent hours and hours in "the reading room" finishing a seriously fascinating book by Dr. Atul Gawande, "Complications: a Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science". I highly recommend it even if you have not have a surgical robot up your butt for a 10-hour stretch of your life. The section on nausea was of especial piquancy...it had never occurred to me that the root word in Greek was based on the sea/sea-sickness...and with good effing reason. Rolling Eyes At any rate, a great read (and thanks to Patricia for it..!!)

So, how does one celebrate? Get back to me on that but one way is to say "Thanks!! to everyone who has checked out this thread over the years along with my wish that they pass the word about getting a preventative colonoscopy.
I repeat the notion I expressed at the beginning, three years ago: this is not fun and it does not have to happen to you. So make it happen for yourself and for those around you.
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SharynS
Post Posted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:12 pm

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 3623
Location: the 'puter
Question WJ, "5" years according to the stats or five according to your own diagnosis?

They gave me "5 years" - 23 years ago! Little did I know then that the number really had not much to do with my specific diagnosis but was the average survival rate - little more than a statistic.

Docs have this thing about only making promises which can be supported by stats. We all know it only takes one bad apple to completely destroy an average for the rest of us. I'm not counting you out now nor do I see myself doing it any time soon. I don't buy into stats, just the way it is.

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Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. - Salman Rushdie
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:47 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
A tip of the hat to the 400,000+ visits to this thread over the past 3 years.

Please make the effort, as well,in whatever form or format you can, to educate your family members, friends, co-workers abiout this disease - and the fact that it can easily be prevented.

The operative word is "colonoscopy" - painless, quick, inexpensive, life-saving.


As for my own humble self, things have not been wholly righteous of late, the past couple of months. I do not know (yet) if it the the cancer, the chemo (3 years worth of cumulative poison), or just pure bad karma.
Energy and stamina have decreased markedly, I need to stop periodically to catch my breath, especially after some heavy lifting a the store or just heading upstairs around the house. Taste buds and appetite are rather flambeed, weight is down.

So, I have and will take a few steps in dealing with this situation.
I had another PET/CT scan today which (it is my uninformed suspicion) will indicate further spread of the cancerous lympths on/around the lungs.
I intend to cut my work-week down to 4 days for awhile, which will have the beneficial effort of providing some additional hours for the part-time folks on the crew.
Rest (and eat!!) as much as possible.
Wait for the PET/CT results and see what the OncDoc has to say.

If you folks have any additional ideas, don't be shy...that's the best I can come up with to date.

Thanks to you all.
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:47 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
A head's up for Grocery Members of UFCW NorCal who have elected PPO status...

I received in the mail yesterday the HRQ ("Health Risk Questionaire") postcard, alerting me (us) to the fact that PPO members of the Trust can (1) take the HRQ as of 1 February 2012, and (2) receive up to $250 in credit in the HRA ("Health Reimbursement Account").

One can do the questionaire at : www.ufcwhrq.com or call a toll-free number (1-888-411-8329).
It is, as before, pretty easy to do and (arguably) non-intrusive.

A couple of things.
(1) I filled out the HRQ online just a few moments ago. As with last year, my January hospital stay for chemo blasted through my out-of-pocket maximum before I could take the HRQ; it took several calls to the Trust later in the year to get the additional $200. actually credited to my account.
It did get done, ultimately - it just took some time, effort, and stress. I will be interested to see is this is repeated this year.
(2) I forgot, previously, to thank the UFCW and Trust folks who monitor this site for acting on my question/complaint. Honest, it is nice to know you folks care. Seriously. That $200. or $250. is alot of money for a grocery clerk - it does make a difference.
Thanks, again.
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:54 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
So...got a brief phone message from the OncDoc last Friday...not great news some ways, not so bad otherwise.

According to the PET/CT there apparently is no or minimal metastasis to other organs; however, there is notably more involvement with the lung lymph nodes. How much more and what is all means we will discuss in a couple of weeks when we consult and when I get my copy of the PET/CT analysis.

What I have noticed since December is a greater fatigue/less energy, shortness of breath and the need to stop and catach said breath periodically, especially after physical movement, and (pardon) one hell of alot more mucus flow which causes considerable coughing, nose blowing, and for, that which accumulates in the stomach, a loss of appetite and at least a minor once-a-day puke.

I have also, temporarily at least, cut my workweek to 4 days (which also gives our PT nightcrew some hours at a time when the store/company is cutting manhours.

Headed into the "not-so-fun" zone but I will know more in awhile.
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John Briley
Post Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:34 am

Joined: 21 Nov 2007
Posts: 2153
Hello Bill ---- just ran across this article and thought of you.

Study: Colonoscopy Cuts Colon Cancer Death Risk

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/22/4283586/study-colonoscopy-cuts-colon-cancer.html

Sac Bee / 2/22/12
By: Alicia Chang / AP Science Writer

Thank you for your courage for bringing this very serious issue to the forefront.

JB

Quote:
Millions of people have endured a colonoscopy, believing the dreaded exam may help keep them from dying of colon cancer. For the first time, a major study offers clear evidence that it does.
Removing precancerous growths spotted during the test can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half, the study suggests. Doctors have long assumed a benefit, but research hasn't shown before that removing polyps would improve survival - the key measure of any cancer screening's worth.


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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:04 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
Thanks so much, JB, for the mail and the post...with any luck folks will take notice and perhaps save some lives.

I do take exception with the article's comment about the "dreaded exam".
Hell, the exam ain't nothing. You drink the salty/lemon-piss liquid - you crap your brains out for a couple of hours in the privacy of your own toilette. You go see the docs. You go to sleep. The test is done. You get the results.

Piece of cake...why the "dread"???? Question

You want some "dread" ? Don't get the 'scope and undergo a few years of metastatic colo-rectal cancer that the colonoscopy would have prevented.

That's some "dread" and a few other unpleasant things as well.

Get the 'scope, people.
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:13 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
Appropos of not much...

I was reminded today during a period of enforced inactivity that my Dad used to say that "old age ain't for sissies". Now, as then, I defer to his expertise: he lived to be almost 100.

Cancer "ain't for sissies" either...it's alot like old age. Between the cancer and the chemo, the radiation and the surgeries, the body fails. It acts in novel and uncontrolled ways, physical energies fail to respond to the mind's command and the needs of getting through a day. Day after day. Apart from everything else, the disease wears you down, erodes the morale, the esprit. It reminds me of the Nazi practice at Dachau of compelling prisoners to move large, heavy rocks from one place to another, then back again. Over and over. Without purpose.

Don't "dread" a colonoscopy....dread this if you need to dread something.
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SharynS
Post Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:11 pm

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 3623
Location: the 'puter
Quote:
...erodes the morale, the esprit.
That's an important point WJ, fighting disease is as mentally fatiguing as it is physically fatiguing. It wears heavily on one's will. They say attitude is 50% of recovery so I often wonder if or why science doesn't seem to take it much into account when searching for cures.

I am so sorry you have to go through this wringer WJ, just am.

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Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. - Salman Rushdie
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:49 am

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
"Face to Face"

Much as I dislike being the bearer of bad tidings (didn't do Cassandra much good, now did it!) last week I had another sit-down with my OncDoc. This consultation following the PET/CT scan of a couple of weeks previously.

The news was, while not altogether bad, not terribly good.
Bottom line/big picture: I have a life expectancy of six months to a year.
While no other organs or areas are affected, the cancer has multiplied and enlarged in and on my lungs and, as the report stated, is in Stage IV.
As things progress, it will take the course of a "wasting/weakening" rather than the "drowning" lung cancer can involve.
I can continue to work as long as I feel physically able, ADA strictures apply, which is the plan so far...got to see the new contract before I make any moves. Without retiree health coverage, I will go until they carry me out of the store.

Seriously. The employers attitude of "Bill, thanks for 41 years of hard work, now go fuck off and die" really pisses me off. Be advised.

Apart from that, I've a few things to sit down and figure out.
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:16 pm

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
Had a chat a few days back with David, another old guy, literally like me, who works produce.
Dave and I go way back - we butted heads playing competitive basketball for our respective adjoining parochial schools, we both went to SI (read: St. Ignatius High School, then College Prep), Dave started working for Safeway at the Marina a few months after I started at the 32nd/Clement store, then, of course, I started working the Marina store in 1975.

This is a guy I have literally know almost all my life. He was upset about my medical report and the end-of-life prognosis.

My response to him was that somebody has got to show you guys how to do it right.

To this end, we had a meeting of the WTF Committee last night: Shirley, my sister Patricia, my close friends Chuck and Nora. Just to get things straight about assets, liabilities, what I want to happen (e.g. embracing hospice, avoiding hospitals; no religious hoo-ra, wakes, funerals, incense, etc.).
A couple of bumps in the road but nothing that cannot be dealt with.

Not too soon, but at some point there will be "the gathering of seagulls" that Bill mentioned; a great idea and one that the ladies of the crew have already been talking about. A few hours in a bar, some food, music, time for folks to drop by as schedules permit, Jimmy Buffet playing "One Particular Harbor", maybe Root Boy Slim's "Boogie 'Til You Puke" in honor of chemotherapy, stuff like that, ya know. We'll get it all figured out and let you know.

And, as always, my thanks to the WTF Committee.
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SharynS
Post Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:38 pm

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 3623
Location: the 'puter
Who you calling seagull!

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Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. - Salman Rushdie
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Bill Sable
Post Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:22 pm

Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 272
Me, myself, and I... Exclamation

The name of Chuck's 28-foot sloop that I have been racing for 25 years is Gabbiano, which means seagull in Italian.

You want a t-shirt, Sharyn Question Question
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