Chet The Scribe

My name is Chet Meeks. I am a 32 year old sociologist. I started this blog so that I can write about the things that interest me. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Update: Surgery

Hi everyone,

I was finally able to meet with the surgeon at Emory. He is a wonderful man named Charles Staley.

Staley was extremely impressed with my response to chemotherapy. On the other hand, he admitted to me that my recurrence is extremely rare. Most colon cancer recurrences occur in the liver or lungs, whereas mine is the in the mesentary and peritoneum (i.e., in my guts and the surrounding "bag" that lines the intestines, stomach, liver, and surrounding areas).

Staley is the "best" surgical oncologist in Atlanta. Yet, he told me that the surgery recommended for rare recurrences like mine is one that he has never done. So he is referring me to the surgeons at MD Anderson in Houston, TX.

The surgery will occur after my chemotherapy is over + one month to recover from the avastin (which causes bleeding, so they wait for surgery after avastin treatment), so mid to late April, early May. The surgery is gruesome. It involves doing small resections of the mesentary and peritoneum. The problem here is that the mesentary and peritoneum contain networks of blood vesseles, arteries, and so on, all of which are connected to very specific locations in the gut. So in addition to resecting areas of me that were infected with cancer, they then have to "follow" the blood vessles these areas fed with blood and nutrition, and then resect those areas too, since once they resect the blood vessles in the mesentary, they have to also take out the areas that will surely "die" once those blood vessels are dead and gone. So, for example, if they resect an area of my mesentary that supplies blood to a 1 foot section of my small intestine, they have to also go on and resect that area of my small intestine. So there is no way going into this surgery to tell what you'll come out with. I could come out with areas of my small intestine, stomach, bladder, or liver (among other things) gone.

In addition to resecting areas of the mesentary and organs they supply blood to, this surgery involves perfusing the mesentary and peritoneum with "hot" chemotherapy. They insert a needle into one area of the mesentary and peritoneum with a solution of heated chemotherapy drugs (heating the chemo makes it more able to permeate small, microscopic areas) to kill any microscopic cancers that may still exists therein. They then insert a drain in my abdomen and sew me back up. the drain is removed a few days later, once the chemotherapy has left the system.

Sounds awful, I know, and I am worried, as are my parents. They call this surgery the MOAS (Mother of All Surgeries). It's also called the "sugarbaker," after the DC surgical oncologist who pioneered it, but which also sounds like a pastry. Is it a surgery, or a cookie? It's rough. But, on the bright side, it will increase my chance of remaining disease free (of having no other recurrences after 5 years) by about 50%. So even though the surgery sounds awful, I have hope about the fact that the surgeons at MD Anderson are some of the best surgical oncologists in the world, and that once this is over, it will FINALLY be over for good.

Wanted to just let you all know what's going on. If I die, I hope it's not in Texas!! Especially the home of Enron. If something goes wrong, just be sure that I am not buried anywhere near Ken Lay.

Love, Chet

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi son,
Just thought I'd say hi! Know you don't like phone calls after a treatment so thought I'd post a comment on you blog. How're you feeling? Just think, pretty soon no more treatments!! YA!!!!! I'll be very happy for you when all of this is over and you're able to live life & have some fun! The surgery sounds scary but I know it's what has to be done, and I know everything is going to be just fine; I feel it. Very cold here; the wind chill is supposed to possibly feel like -45 by morning; sure hope the forecast is wrong! Well, I will probably call you on Saturday & hope you're up to talking a little by then. In the meantime, I'm thinking of you, and I love you of course. I miss you to! Abby & Sadie say Hi!
I love you,
Mom

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm doing okay mum.....all you tomorrow.

love, chet

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone!

Where is everyone at? I miss reading all of your comments! Come on, get on here and say something, anything. A really funny joke would be.....well FUNNY! I need to laugh, so please hurry and do this for me (and Chet). Besides, I'm worried that you've all fallen off the face of the earth, but I know that can't be true! And I know you're all very busy, but hey...so am I. I'm sick & tired of all the work and no fun...so come on now, don't make me beg, please!

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Buddy!!!
I haven't written for quite a while as I figured I had made some of your friends mad with my joke on Henry. I guess I shouldn't have done it but thought it would be good for a laugh. Sadly not so. Sorry. I want you to know that I have given a lot of thought to your surgery and I am quite sure you are going to be ok. Not only that you know only the good die young so you will live to be at least 100 or more. I want you to quit worring and focus on your new condo. Your Mom is so damn excited about it that I'm afraid she is going to disappear and end up in Atlanta to get you moved in. I am really proud of your decision to buy as now you will have two bedrooms so when Mom and I retire we'll have a room to stay in during the winter. WOW, just think you get to babysit your poor old folks. Oh, by the way I would like red meat every night so you can plan ahead for our meals which I would expect you to cook as your Mom and I will be too busy goofing off.
A blond, a redhead and a brunett all go into a bar. The redhead tells the bartender she would like a BL. The bartender says I'm kinda new at this what's a BL? The redhead says that's a Bud Light. He looks at the brunett and she says I'll have a CL. He says that must be a Coors Light. The brunett says that's correct. He looks at the blond and says what will you have. She says she'll have a 15. The bartender says what's a 15? The blond says Duh!! That's a 7 and 7.

Love you and miss you,
the old man

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe I'm trying to buy a condo. I feel so grown up. I called the mortgage people today to get pre-qualified. I hope they don't reject me. I fear rejection, which is probably why i've never done this.

Anyway I'll let you all know what I find out.

Feeling fine. Chemo tomorrow. YAY!!!

Love, Chet

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the best part of buying a first condo is that--if they say yes on financing--you realize that multiple financial institutions are stupid enough to loan you or me that much money--and then they actually hustle you for your business. lol. (me: "you're willing to loan me $xxx,xxx--i would NEVER borrow that much!; you've got to fucking be kidding! besides, they don't make mobile homes that big OR nice.") (do i hear carla, the financially disciplined one, in the background saying: "damn, you ARE 'money pathetic'"? lol.) your condo plan is news to me, but good news indeed. that's exciting!

when are you going to houston? any news yet on specifics. i'm trying to schedule light for april 15 - 30, kinda assuming from our last talk that that is the time frame you'll be there.

hope you're having a good weekend.

love,
tom

p.s. my itunes selected that damned beethoven piano concerto movement (i think it is the third movement and in g major) you bought here and made me listen to, the one with the melodic line so fucking long and unrelentingly that it makes me scream "get it fucking out, ludwig." just thought i'd let you know i like it now. :) you are right, the piece is pretty amazing.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi tom,

i laughed heartily at your post. especially the part about these banks being stupid enough to lend me that kind of money.

Suckers!

i haven't heard a WORD from Md Anderson. i'm sick of these people. i should be the one to decide if i get this surgery, not them. what do they know anyway? just their dumb statistical paradigms and protocols, which is they they consistently treat me like an 80 year old.

i'm tired of it.

i'll let everyone know as soon as i can. at any rate there will be no surgery until late april, thanks to avastin's effects on the blood.

love, chet

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. it's the second mvmt of the emperor and yes, it is beautiful.

carla (i.e., martha stewart) would hate it, though.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chet--

I lived in Houston for nine years. And I lived close to MD Anderson. Let me know if there are any questions that you might have and I'll see if I can get answers for you. The Texas Medical Center is an amazing place so you will be in good hands. (Although when I used to work as a research assistant for a medical ethicist there I kept getting parking tickets --evil bastards.)

--Susanna

(Sophie and Smudge want to hear more from Tache. They adore Tache and have chosen her as their mentor. I'm scared.)

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, no. Please. Please no more from Tache.

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