I'm running out of wellness time. It's hard to wrap my head around cancer when I don't feel sick. The side effects from radiation are gone. I feel good, really good.
I have been living out of a suitcase all summer - jamming as much fun time in as I can. Right now we are back in Saratoga Springs, New York for the Alabama Stakes Race. I'm feeling lucky and there is a pack of 3-year-old fillies waiting to show me what they've got. My technique is simple, I watch them exit the paddock and one by one they check in with me. Some are frightened. Some are confused. Some love winning.
Yesterday, we strolled into town and after several cocktails, found the perfect Halloween costumes for the dogs.
Next week we are going back to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for preoperative appointments and more tests. This is when I find out how responsive my tumor was to radiation.
I have been visualizing a "complete clinical response" (cCR) to the high dose, internal radiation I received in July. If this is the case, I am considering nonoperative management - meaning saying NO to surgery.
Obviously, this would be very controversial and I won't be able to get any of my medical team on board, but that doesn't deter me from arguing my case.
Earlier this month, at the annual meeting of the Society of Surgical Oncology, two surgeons discussed nonoperative management vs surgery in patients with stage I to III rectal cancers after a cCr from the standard chemo/radiation therapy was achieved. Their findings suggest that the disease free survival rate is similar in both groups, which leads me to question if surgery is necessary.
Of course, right off the bat, I don't fit into either catagory because (by choice) I did not receive the "standard" external radiation and chemo. The internal radiation treatment I did receive is highly effective for treating the tumor itself but it does not reach lymph nodes outside the rectal wall.
And, although there are strong indicators, the only way to be 100% certain the tumor is cancer free is through pathology.
Whether or not I have positive nodes is unclear. The best way to detect them, pre-surgery, is through a pelvic MRI which has a 75 to 80% accuracy rate. The MRI I received at Johns Hopkins in June showed no positive nodes. The MRI I received at Memorial Sloan Kettering, two weeks earlier, showed 2 to 3 positive nodes.
I had no problem choosing surgery when I was faced with my breast cancer, because it was a matter of body image NOT body function. But this is a horse of a different color, a completely different race.
I am convinced that my horse whispering technique is better at predicting a winner than medical science is at finding my cure. Today, I'm tossing all the odds out the window and listening to my gut.
Twenty Rules to Live By
(as it relates to illness and treatment)
(as it relates to illness and treatment)
from The Scalpel and the Soul by Allan J. Hamilton, M.D., FACS
Rule No. 1: Never underestimate luck - good or bad.
Rule No. 2: Find a doctor who cares about you.
Rule No. 3: Never trade quality for quantity of life.
Rule No. 4: Live your life with death in it.
Rule No. 5: You cannot dodge a bullet with your name on it.
Rule No. 6: Ask your doctor to pray with you.
Rule No. 7: Never believe anyone who says, "Nothing will go wrong."
Rule No. 8: Don't be turned into just another patient.
Rule No. 9: Listen to your favorite music.
Rule No. 10: Never let hospital rules interfere with patient visiting hours.
Rule No. 11: The will to live is yours.
Rule No. 12: Develop your own healing rituals.
Rule No. 13: To heal quickly avoid negative influences.
Rule No. 14: Don't let growing old make you crazy.
Rule No. 15: Never be dissuaded from alternative medicine.
Rule No. 16: Never let a doctor determine your dignity. (broke it)
Rule No. 17: Never let a doctor constrain your outcome.
Rule No. 18: Always ask a doctor what he or she would do. (but will they be honest with you?)
Rule No. 19: Assign someone to be your guardian angel.
Rule No. 20: There's no surgery like NO surgery.
For a complete list of my ridiculous cancer journey CLICK HERE.