An Update on my Health Matters

This is the second post I am making about my health matters. In case you missed the first one, you should go back and read it first.

In short: I have cancer.

The details of the disease are actually unimportant, because cancer is such a terrible disease that any of its forms can be devastating to the patient, and his family and friends.

It isn’t very different for me.

But I promised back in September 2012 that I would update those of you interested if there was anything to report, and now there is.

The cancer I have is actually horribly common – so many people have it, it is scary. I have colorectal cancer, and by the time they caught it, it had spread to my liver. A dramatic 7 hour emergency surgery in the middle of the night in September resulted in the complete removal of the tumours from my large intestine, so that primary tumour became a non-issue.

The real problem was two-fold – the fact that my liver was affected (and pretty heavily) and the very real danger that the cancer would spread to other organs.

I entered a program of chemo-therapy, and completed six sessions, after which I was put through a series of tests and scans to determine how things were going.

There are good news and bad news.

The good news: despite the expectation that we would find that the cancer had spread to other organs, this was not to be. The chemo-therapy seems to have completely arrested the spread of the disease beyond the liver – which is a surprisingly good result, given that the liver is the Grand Central Junction of the body’s blood system, and cancer cells can reach any organ in the body from there.

This does not mean that this will not ever happen – as long as the liver continues to be affected, I could find myself fighting things on several fronts in the future. But for now, that hasn’t happened, and if the treatment continues to be as effective, it may actually not happen.

Which brings us to the bad news.

The treatment is actually in two parts – FOLFOX chemo therapy, that kills off cancer cells and arrests the spread of the disease (and that has worked), and a very expensive anti-body treatment that targets specific cells, and was meant to shrink the tumours in my liver.

The antibody treatment has not worked as expected.

The primary tumour has remained unchanged in size – too big to allow surgery on the liver, and the number of minor nodules in the liver has actually increased.

So my doctors have decided to change the chemo protocol, change the antibody medication, and use more aggressive methods, starting this Thursday morning, when I go in for chemo session #7 of 12.

This is probably more detail than you were looking for, and you are probably grossed out by now, but I did promise I would keep you posted. :)

How have I been holding out?

Many of you noticed that I don’t actually talk much about my problem, and if I do, I do so in a matter of fact and even light-hearted manner. There is really no point to breast-beating and “woe is me” wails. This is a battle I need to fight, and I can’t waste time and energy lamenting about it.

But yes, it has been hard on me. There is a lot of pain (which the excellent Bangalore Baptist Hospital doctors are managing), a lot of weight loss (15 kilos in a few weeks, and actually dropping), lots of weakness and frustration, and of course the financial and professional implications.

Luckily, and literally without my knowing what was happening, my family and friends jumped into the fray, and the financial matters got addressed for now. Cancer treatment is an unbelievably expensive matter, and without the help I received, I wouldn’t have managed this far. Saying that I am grateful for this help is probably the understatement of the decade.

Professionally, it has been a nightmare for me.

I cannot travel because I am in chemo every two weeks for 3 days. This means that I cannot commit to projects that take more than a certain amount of time, or require me to travel. This has required me to make a number of changes to my lifestyle and professional relationships. Luckily, my doctors assure me that things will improve over the next few months, so I look forward to being more active professionally soon.

In the meanwhile, if you need product related consulting in Bangalore or online, feel free to contact me!

So that’s about it. Like I said – good news and bad news, but I am by no means out of options, and hopefully my next report in a few months will be more positive.

I just want to put on record my gratitude to the many, many people who have offered help, and have been sending positive vibes my way. I feel every bit of it, as does my family, and it is helping us in a major, major way.

Until the next update!