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Val's Journey

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It all really began at the beginning of Dec 2003,I had what I believed to be a cold normally I don’t usually get the more than twice a year and manage to eradicate them on my own in short order, however this time it was a little different, I had some shoulder pain at the back if my chest and a cough that would not stop, with every cough I would get a jolt of pain in that area , by now anyone else might decide to go to their Doctor but not me ,I was certain it would just go away. So I waited until Dec 29 / 2003 when I noticed lump along my clavicle. The lump prompted my appointment with the Doctor, that freaked me out as it seemed to appear over night, the cough and shoulder pain radiating to center back had not really concerned me so we had blood tests and chest x-ray and was prescribed antibiotic Biaxin for infection a CT scan ordered for Chest ,Neck ,Pelvis and a Biopsy for the Lump that I already knew was one of my lymph nodes.Dr Dave called my home that evening to be sure I had picked up and started on the medication right away since my white cell count was elevated. On Jan 9 /2004 a Biopsy was not scheduled just a consultation but the Doctor located a lab assistant and did the needle biopsy that day anyway. Jan 13 / 2004 CT scan done in afternoon. While I was waiting one of the technicians told me to report to my family Doctors office immediately following my scan, I was to start a new job that day in Campbell River and had been trying all week to get morning appointment with no luck, I was assured I would get right in when I got there and still be able to report to my job on time. On arriving Dr Dave informed me that the Biopsy performed at the hospital on Jan 9th yielded positive results for Cancer and that the primary tumor may have originated in the Lung. Lung Cancer was shortly confirmed. The diagram my Doctor drew for me showed an area of the right upper lobe and he explained that plural effusion may be involved. The Mediasternal Lymph Nodes on right and left sides plus nodes along my collar bone. Last but not least he setup a Bran Scan that came back good ,no brain mets plus an Appointment was setup at the Cancer Treatment Center in Victoria BC for Jan 27 where I would see a Medical Oncologist and a Radiation Oncologist. I came away not understanding much more than my family Dr had already explained to me. I asked if I could record our conversation and she wasn’t comfortable with that, I got that I would be receiving palliative treatment only and that Radiation or Surgery is not an option for me, as the cancer was classed as locally advanced and unless I respond well or should I say the cancer responded well to the Chemotherapy consisting of Venorelbine 45mg & Cisplatin 45mg for 4-6 cycles, there must be a substantial reduction in tumour sizes etc… if that is the case then they may elect to radiate in Victoria at that time. Next I had an appointment with the internist at St Joe’s Hospital in Comox, I was able to have the Chemotherapy close to home, he wrote me a prescription for the drugs I would need and arranged for my flu immunization shots at the health unit in Courtenay. Now with 4 cycles of my Chemotherapy complete it was time for another CT Scan so on April 20th that was done, now I needed to get in to see my Oncologist and I had some difficulty in contacting Victoria cancer Agency for an appointment, I was somewhat confused as to why one wasn’t made in advance to coincide with the chemo ending so I waited another 3 weeks to find out my appointment time might be, however the Doctors secretary did, tell me on the telephone 4 days after my scan that I had a good reduction to the Tumour in my lung., (Things were looking up a bit) the Primary Lung Tumour showed 65% reduction I finally got to my appointment on May 18th and got to ask my Oncologist a few questions like the name of my cancer in medical terms she said Non small cell Carcinoma, when I mentioned pleural effusion she said no I didn’t have that but I had been under the impression from a previous appointment that there may have been some involvement with the pleural space. I wanted to know TNM Diagnosis and it was T3N3M0.and then seen my Radiologist and she was going to set up radiation sessions 5x a week for 6 weeks and a setup time for Ct simulator to tattoo the area for radiation will call with appointment time in a couple days, well it wasn’t until June 4th that I got down there for that and due to time lapse between last CT San the Radiologist wanted me to repeat CT scan on June 11th , at my Local Hospital having the intention to start Radiation on June 14th .But on June 10th .I went to my family Doctor to discuss progressive worsening back pain , I had seen a Chiropractor for 3 sessions over the last week with no improvement and Dr Dave ordered back x-ray and a bone scan to coincided with the CT.June 14th I received a phone call from the Radiologist and from the reports of all three the Chest Tumor has enlarged again and the bone scan reveals metastasis to the 4th Lumbar Vertebrae in my spine, treatment to be altered to 16th to simulate radiation tattoo to lower back I had 5 treatments of radiation from June 17th to the 23rd the chest and node areas and 5 shots to the Back. and I ‘ve had a lot of pain since then even doubling the Morphine 5mg pills to10 mg every 4 hours has not helped with the pain much and the term breakthrough pain should not even apply as the pain is constant with altering degrees. I have been asked to keep a medicinal record for the health nurse. My family Doctor and I have been working on the Pain Medications and now have I thing close to having it under control. I was using a walker for a short time but today I have been pretty much confined to a wheel chair. I started on Taxotere/ Docetaxel® on July 8 / 2004.At that session I was continuously monitored during the infusion for possible allergic reaction, e.g.…Hives, difficulty breathing, etc…. I have just completed one cycle and have had no adverse reactions at all, other than the hair loss, and I thought I might have had additional muscle/bone pain but on my consultation with the Doctor at the hospiltal, he opted to stop treatment to be sure it wasn’t a side effect that may harm me. So yesterday I had CT a Bone and a Pelvis X-Ray. Today I had an appointment with him and it turns out my pain is the result of a fracture from the tumor pressing on the already weakened spine. Am now in need of surgery to stop the bone fragments from penetrating my spinal cord and causing paralysis. Oncologist in Victoria is in the process of setting me up with a Neurologist to perform the surgery. So now I’m up in the air and waiting,


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