Esophageal Cancer: When the Grim Reaper Darkens Your Door Part X

The past few weeks have seen a gradual but steady improvement of my wife’s health. We were able to make another road trip to Idaho to attend to our property and see some old friends.

The hair loss that my wife has experienced after chemo and radiation has slowed. It’s thin but uniform. Sometimes it gets covered with a wrap/scarf sort of thing.

Eating food is better but she avoids spicy things and some types of menu items.

The second PET/CT scan was done about a week ago. The tumor is about 1/3 as bright as it was initially. Her SUV rating went from 18 to 6. (SUV is not a tiny Humvee driving around your innards blasting cancer cells with a microscopic .50 Cal machine gun; instead, it’s a measure of how much radioactive material accumulated in the tumor and its intensity on the scan.) This is good and the expected result of the treatment thus far. In addition, no cancer was detected elsewhere in her body during the scan.

Many days later, we did have a meeting with her oncologist. At the meeting, the oncologist said that a pathology report would be done on the tissue removed during her upcoming surgery. This is the first mention of a pathology report that I have hear from her medical team. The report would follow within two weeks of the procedure. The oncologist said that if the pathology report detects cancer cells—which is likely—then a follow-up treatment of immunotherapy would likely start in January. This also is the first admission that cancer will remain in my wife after the surgery.

It was at this point that the words of the oncologist got very close to using the “cure” word. The little yellow flags went up in my mind as I heard her say this. Such a promise is not what I have found in my reading of the literature on esophageal cancer. I can only reconcile the two opposing views as meaning that we can buy you a few years more if everything goes your way.

I have written elsewhere in this series about the surgery, so I won’t rehash that now; but I did need to get into the latest with Covid restrictions. The most important thing is that nobody with the initials M.D. after their name can tell you what the Covid testing rules are. We ended up being told to talk with the security guards at the hospital and find out.

What we learned is that there is no formal way required to prove that you had a recent Covid test. My two upcoming appointments at CVS or wherever it is, won’t get me very far. The security guys at the hospital will accept a home test if you bring it to them in the hospital. Please note this is a medical determination made by people that just might have a Red Cross First Aid certificate if you’re lucky and are probably the lowest paid folks in the hospital not changing bedpans. Also, they kept saying something about 72 hours but whether the test must be within that interval, or they only let you use it for that long; both or neither, I guess I will find out next week. Oh, I plan to have the home version of the Covid test in my car or on my person. I guess once they document my quickie test, I can trash it until I need another.

This brings up my next question which is why are face masks and Covid quickie tests just common garbage? If Covid is really so bad, then shouldn’t anything Covid related be biohazardous? Yeah, I know it’s not but if Dr. Fauci and the rest were serious then wouldn’t disposal be an important issue to prevent the spread? (Sorry I assumed for a minute that they might follow at least the easy science related to virology and contamination.)

Oh, lastly, when in the hospital, my wife is allowed one visitor per day. We are having sign-ups at our Thanksgiving celebration to let our relatives get in line. However, and isn’t there always one of those somewhere, the security folks will allow more people to visit if the nurses on her floor say that its ok. How this is communicated to the security guys was not explained. Also, minors are not allowed to see their moms in the hospital. Wanna bet it’s a Covid rule too?

Anyway, I’m thankful to have my wife and I’m glad see her doing better, even if it’s all about to be undone by the forthcoming medical procedure. Have a good Thanksgiving and expect to hear from me again after the surgery.

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