I met with my doctors today for the first time since beingreleased from the hospital. After a brief discussion touching on the highlights(and lowlights) of my recovery, I was given the pathology report for my stomach,now estranged from me some six weeks. Turns out it was infested with signetring cancerous tumours. Nine of them, to be precise. Nine.
Needless to say, any lingering doubts I may have hadregarding the necessity of living the rest of my life without a stomach havebeen quashed.
They were small—the largest was just 2.5 millimetres in diameter—andall were classified as T1a, which, technically, is pre-cancerous, but my doctorassured me that they were malignant and would have continued to grow.
My always helpful genetic counsellor was with me for theappointment, and as we walked out of my surgeon’s office she gave me a highfive and suggested it was a night for celebration (I let slip to her earlierthat I have now successfully imbibed both wine and beer since the surgery). “You’rea success story” were the words she used.
Indeed, even my doctor said that she would be using my caseas an example. When I mentioned to her that I thought she already had, giventhat my wife’s gastroenterologist friend had seen my case come up at a medical conference she attended, her jaw dropped. (Patient names are never used atthese things; I explained that our friend guessed it was me based on the patient’sage, the timing, and the rarity of CDH1 cases.) I told her to goahead and show my case to anyone who wanted to see it.
The long and the short of this post is that everyone ishappy. My physicians are happy that they have done a good job, my geneticcounsellor is happy to have yet more proof that genetic screening saves lives,and I (and my family) am happy that my life has been saved.
Of course, I still have to deal with the long-term physicalissues resultant from my total gastrectomy.
Speaking of which, I met with my dietician today as well. Shewas impressed that I’m managing to take in 1500-1700 calories and 1.5 to 2.0litres of fluid per day. She also thought that I was hitting all of mynutritional marks. She did express concern about my ongoing food-caught-in-my-throatissue (which I have mentioned a couple of times in this blog) but noted that itoften becomes less frequent with time.
My doctors said the same thing, but mentioned that if itdoesn’t get better with time it could be the result of excessive scar tissue thatmight have formed at the point where the oesophagus and intestine meet. If that’sthe case, they’ll do an endoscopy (throat scope) and use a special gizmo tostretch out the scarred area, creating a little more room to let food passthrough. Sounds nasty. I’d prefer if the problem just went away on itsown.
Lots of other little things came up over the course of the afternoon (my incisionis apparently healing well, my minor but continuing weight loss is no cause foralarm, and the numbness around my belly may or may not go away—no surprise there),but I won’t bother with the details here.
The general gist of things is that, thanks to the work of the fine team of professionalsattending me at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital and the wonder of modernmedicine, my life has been extended.
Oh…and I’ll soon have some awesome photos of my stomach thatI’ll put up here for everyone to see. We’re talking specimen shots, dissection pics, and even close-ups of those nasty tumours (all courtesy of my geneticcounsellor, who deserves a shout out for offering to send them to me—thanks!).Ergo, if you see a future post with the headline “Hey, look at my tumours, everyone!”and you’re the squeamish sort, you may not want to click through.