The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Procedure complete. No definite results.

Dr. Lee performed the procedure this morning after my vital signs proved to be normal. During the colonoscopy, he hopefully obtained useful tissue samples of the nodule. I say "hopefully" because it turned out that not only is the nodule in an "obscure" place, but it appeared nearly the same as the surrounding tissue on the ultrasound. Thus, he couldn't tell where to aim the biopsy needle. So he took six biopsies in all, using last week's CT scan images as a guide. I am reminded of the blindfolded guy who throws daggers at the spinning girl, but I doubt Dr. Lee would put it that way. He really does seem to be a fine doctor and he probably got the samples he needs. With all the searching and numerous biopsies, the procedure took two hours. That is about the duration of my original colon surgery! It made no difference to me, as I was peacefully tripping on ether.

I will probably get the results tomorrow or Friday. If the results of the biopsy are inconclusive -- get this -- we'll do the procedure again next week using a CT scan machine to guide the doctor in where to shoot the needle. The nodule appears more clearly on the CT scan than on the ultrasound.

Looking at the shadowy ultrasound printouts, I couldn't avoid the melancholy train of thought that this machine ought to be used for looking for babies, not for blobs of cancer.

Dr. Hoff had to leave town for urgent business so I cannot meet with him tomorrow. I may stick around to meet with Dr. Vauthey instead on Friday.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Waiting it out in Houston

Christine and I decided to wait it out here in Houston. I can work remotely and the rest of the time, we'll just relax. I begin prep again Tuesday for a redo of the biopsy procedure on Wednesday.

I've been taking my blood pressure since Thursday and it has been normal, even a little high. Go figure. Seems that the pressure drop was indeed the combination of fluid loss and the medication.

Incidentally, with the fasting and prep on Wednesday, I lost six pounds in one day - eat your heart out Atkins devotees. (I've always said the cancer diet beats Atkins hands down... but I don't recommend it.)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Procedure delayed

I went through the unpleasant preparation for the colonoscopy last night and woke early for my appointment and procedure. Everything was normal up to the point where they were about to wheel me in for the procedure. The problem was that my blood pressure was quite low - as low as I had ever seen it (top number in the 70s). The anesthesiologist would not go forward with sedation due to the risks. As the two perplexed doctors, intern, and a couple of nurses discussed the issue, my blood pressure refused to go up and even decreased a bit more. At one particular moment, they became quite concerned because they thought that the gastric varices (the swollen blood vessels around the stomach that we knew about) could be bleeding. This would have been very bad. Christine and I just held hands trying to decipher their jargon-filled discussion. I offered to the team that I could start worrying and maybe my blood pressure would rise. Not everyone smiled. I think everyone's blood pressure was elevated at that moment but mine! They concluded their discussion saying that the likely cause was loss of fluids due to the prep combined with the medication I'm taking for the varices. They hydrated me with IV fluids for a while and the pressure did rise somewhat, but not enough for them to go forward with the procedure. I was directed to go off the varices medication and stay nearby tonight and then could go home tomorrow if I want.

They rescheduled the procedure for next Wednesday. So, we'll just have to wait another week to find out what this nodule is. Christine and I haven't decided yet whether it would be best for us to drive back for the weekend or stay through until the test next week. I'll keep you updated.

I am concerned about this week's developments, but have found myself able to persevere pretty well this week. It has been great spending some solid time with Christine, and she is a great support to me. And I think often of the many of you who are sticking right there with me. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

biopsy tomorrow

I am at MD Anderson for tests this week and unfortunately, the CT scan Monday showed a growing nodule in my lower abdomen. The nodule is 1.4x1.2cm wide and may be cancerous. So they scheduled for tomorrow a colonoscopy/ultrasound/biopsy procedure where they'll investigate further. It is at 11a.m. and requires general anesthesia. I'll try to post how the procedure went later tomorrow. Biopsy results will not be available until late Friday. My doctor said to consider this a bump on the long road. It is not a common place for my type of cancer to spread, so he did not want to speculate as to what is going on there.