It is amazing to me how one day you can be on top of the world and the next day you are in the doldrums. Cancer has that effect on you and certainly has on me. In this week’s blog I want to share my cancer story with you.
For a number of years my PSA level had been running high. I did not worry about it because there were no other problems. In 2018 I developed a nodule in my prostate. My doctor became worried that it was cancer. We discussed the situation at length, and we decided that I should see a urologist. He suggested a local urologist whom I went to see. He also believed that I had prostate cancer. Let me mention at this point how important it is to have faith in your doctors. I am sure that the doctor was qualified, but our personalities did not click. Emilie and I discussed it at length and decided to call my heart specialists at the University of Chicago Medical Center and have him suggest a urologist there.
I began seeing Dr. Gregory P. Zagaja, one of the top urologists in the United States. He was relatively certain that I had prostate cancer but needed to do a biopsy on the nodule to confirm that it was cancer one way or another. They took twelve tissue samples and every one of them tested positive for cancer.
In January of 2019 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At that time, I was aware that I likely had cancer, since all of the doctors I had seen said I had cancer. Regardless of what you know or think, when the doctor looks you in the eye and says “Carl, you have cancer” it is like someone hitting you in the jaw. Believe me, everything in the world runs through your brain. “Am I going to die?” is near the top of the list. Then comes “can they cure the cancer?” and “what happens to my family, employees, etc. if they cannot.” And frankly it is uncomfortable to think of all these things. And it changes your life.
In the same doctor’s visit we needed to discuss what the treatment was going to be. I had decided months before that if it was cancer, I wanted my prostate removed. After a long discussion with Dr. Zagaja, he agreed, and I was scheduled for the operation in March.
Removal of the prostate affects a male’s ability to urinate which is known as incontinence. I was told that in about six months I should be near normal. At the end of a year, I was going through Depends and pads at a large rate. I was changing my pads six to seven times per day. The doctor had me taking physical therapy, which I did 68 times. It did not help me a bit, so the doctors decided that I needed to have another operation to install a urinary control device. This procedure did make a significant difference in my life, and this point I figured I was in decent shape and life would go on with a good degree of normalcy.
In September of 2021 I went back to the hospital in Chicago for my normal six-month heart checkup. They did the normal CT scan checking my lower aorta. I met with my doctor to discuss the results. The CT scan film was sent to my other doctors, which is normal, for their records.
My local doctor called one day and said he had been reviewing the film from my CT scan and he had bad news. “You have cancer in two to three locations,” he said. I could not believe it…not again.
This time I was diagnosed with a rare form of fast-growing, soft tissue cancer. It is called Leiomyosarcoma and only 1% of the people get the cancer I have.
No one is quite sure how you get this cancer. It is a very fast-growing cancer, as I said earlier, and mine happens to be in a lesion on my liver and in my lymph nodes in my abdomen. After a biopsy of the lesion on my liver, they were able to determine the type of cancer and what stage it was. Unfortunately, mine is stage 4.
They are unable to give me any chemo treatments because of my heart issues and weak kidneys. For the past three and a half weeks I have been on a treatment program using a drug called Nexavar. It is used to treat kidney and liver cancer. It is a chemotherapeutic medication. I take four pills per day: two in the morning and two in the evening.
This drug does have side effects, but fortunately I have not had too many. I have lost my voice, I cannot eat much and when I do, it makes me fill up very quickly and my stomach begins to hurt. I have lost 20-plus pounds so far. The doctors are concerned about the weight loss as it effects your treatment.
The doctors say that surgery is out of the question, thus I will be on the Nexavar to try and stabilize the cancer. The only choice I have is stabilization as the cancer cannot be cured. If they cannot stabilize the cancer with the medication, there are a couple other drugs they can switch me to. If those do not work, they tell me I have three to six months to live. If they can get it stabilized, they say I will have three to five years to live.
Now I will have a CT scan every three months to see what condition my cancer is in. Is it grown or stable? My next scan is in about a month to check and see how the new treatment is working.
Now I am like my 12-year-old grandson, Adler Bear Carris, who has inoperable brain and spinal cancer. Adler was diagnosed at age 4. His cancer is currently stable. He is off chemo, but he has a lot of ongoing pain that he suffers through daily.
Neither Adler nor I’s war with cancer is even close to over. But both of us get up every morning, ready to fight it.
Cancer has a significant impact on your life. It makes you step back and reflect on yourself and all of your family. You truly become a different person after you face cancer. Fuck cancer.
As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics, please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Mark your calendars for these upcoming wine events at LEX 530 in 2022!
Friday, February 4 – Wine Dinner
Friday, February 25 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, March 11 – Wine Dinner
Friday, March 25 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, April 8 – Wine Dinner
Friday, April 22 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, May 13 – Wine Dinner
Friday, May 27 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, June 10 – Wine Dinner
Friday, June 24 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, July 8 – Wine Dinner
Friday, July 29 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, August 12 – Wine Dinner
Friday, August 26 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, September 9 – Wine Dinner
Friday, September 16 – Wine Talk & Taste
Tuesday, October 11 – Wine Dinner (Oktoberfest)
Friday, October 21 – Wine Talk & Taste
Friday, November 4 – Wine Dinner
Friday, November 18 – Wine Talk & Taste