CancerGuide: Inspirational Patient Stories
Written April 9, 1996
My name is Eric Roberts, I'm 22 and a student at Arizona State University West majoring in secondary education. Let's see, It was spring of 1994 that I was diagnosed with polyps in my colon at the age of 19. I had always felt tired since I was 16 or so, but I just attributed it to lack of sleep, student's diet, active lifestyle. I was working full time as a minimum-wage-slave under the golden arches during my last 2 years of high school. My diet consisted almost exclusively of hamburgers, chicken nuggets and fries. I worked the closing shift 2 or 3 times a week, worked 24 hours each weekend on top of a decent social life; plus school full-time. So, needless to say, I ran myself pretty ragged. "Burning the candle at both ends," my mom always warned me. Coffee seemed to make up the difference for a long time, then that didn't cut it, then espresso and cafe mochas worked for a while. But even though I managed to keep up my busy lifestyle, even I noticed that I was progressively getting more tired as the months went by. My (at the time) girlfriend's mother always commented on how pale I looked, but I just shrugged it off because my rationale was that I always looked that light, I just stayed out of the sun alot.
LEADING UP TO...
January 1, 1994 my mom switched health insurance companies. We were with CIGNA and (w/o giving me any tests) just agreed that my lack of energy was due to my active lifestyle, even though I was starting to doubt myself. We had been with CIGNA for years and we (my family) weren't crazy about the services provided, so we switched. The new plan's doctor ran a bunch of blood tests and did a physical. After it was noticed that my blood count was low, hence being anemic, my doctor raised some concerns. He didn't buy the story about me just leading a college lifestyle causing my low blood count. He ordered more tests and, what do you know, there was blood in my stool sample. The initial blood test was in January, but I had stalled until April before getting around to taking more tests because I was in denial or just plain stubborn. Playing with my feces to test if I have blood in my stool just didn't seem like any fun; so I put it off. After enough harassment from my mom and enough calls from the doctor, I finally got around to doing the dirty deed. And when I got the positive results back from that, I was even less enthusiastic about going back for more tests such as these fiberoptic probes they wanted to shub down my throat and up my rear. Well, my throat, stomach and small intestine looked fine enough, and I was beginning to wonder if there was anything wrong. But rest assured, there was.
A side note: Polyps are small cell abnormalities that form mushroom looking figures growing on the inside of the colon wall. Just about eeryone has a few polyps. That is normal, they don't do much harm and the person usually goes through their whole life not knowing they ever have any. Well, the doctors found my problem, I had thousands apon thousands of these polyps lining my colon wall. No normal tissue culd be seen. So after the results from the biopsy came back, it was determined that they were the kind of polyps that are directly connected to the formation of an aggressive colon cancer. There was no doubt that if I already didn't have colon cancer, I would get it very soon. That diagnosis was in late June. I was shocked, to say the least. I remember that appointment, I acted very mature, I bit my tongue to fight back the tears alot. I asked some questions and tried to act like it didn't phase me. If it was just me there, I would have lost it, but I couldn't break down in front of my parents, my mom was already crying and it would have just made things that much worse.
Dr. Shaver said that it was one of the worst cases that he had seen, and that near-immediate surgery was his only suggestion. He wanted to take out about 95% of my colon, leaving me the last few inches at the end, he would just burn the sides clean with a laser, and connect my small intestine to that end. I remember feeling like I was 4 years old again because even though my parents and doctor said it was up to me to do what I want, it was obvious what everyone was deciding for me. I reluctanly agreed. Call me funny, but I didn't (and still don't) think that just cutting out a whole organ was a great solution. You can only cut out so many parts. I still don't know of any other solutions to that problem, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But there isn't a day that goes by and I don't slightly regret that decision.
Well, surgery was set 3 weeks from that appointment with Dr. Shaver. I prepared myself as best as I could. I knew that the better the condition I went in, the better I would come out. So in preparation, I went to (at the time it was called) Bally's US Swim & Fitness for about 2 hours a day. I worked my cardiovascular system relentlessly, 45 heart-pounding minutes on the treadmill and equal time on the stairmaster immediately afterwards.On top of that, I also hiked many nights a week, when I wasn't out living it up with friends. No one could match my endurance or enthusiasm during those 3 weeks.
I handled the news better than any of my friends, family and parents. I was most upset about the inconvenience to my schooling. It was going to put me a semester behind, and that was my biggest concern. I have always had a good sense of humor and this situation didn't put too much of a dent in it. I lived it up, ate well and spent an unreal amount of money in the process,of keeping myself constantly entertained. My mom always worried about me not getting enough sleep and "burning the candle at both ends." But my philosophy was that I was going to get more than enough rest after surgery. Smirk.
The surgery was on a Thursday, it went well and I sort of remember taking a 5 day nap. The anesthesiologist was very good! The doctors had told me to count backwards from 100 when I was going under. And when I woke up some 6 hours later, I was still trying to count backwards. I honestly didn't think I had undergone surgery yet; until I tried to move around. laugh I went home after a week in the hospital and hid in my bedroom for a week or two. The biopsy of the colon revealed that, in fact, there was viable cancerous polyps, but it didn't look like it had spread beyond the colon wall.
I healed exceptionally fast, and I bounced back faster than anyone had anticipated. Although I don't recommend going through any of this, I did make the best of it. I became very good at chess again, went out with friends alot, and eventually started dating again. I was started driving shortly after the 3 week mark. The biggest problem was that, without a colon, I lost a lot of weight: about 30 pounds to be exact. I wasn't exactly heavy when I went into surgery, around 170 pounds, so I didn't exactly look or feel too healthy losing that much weight. Well, I learned to eat more and adjust my diet accordingly to my new digestive tract. And I eventually gained most of it back. Even though it was a pain in the butt (so to speak), I learned how o live without a colon and live a near normal life again. That is a different story in itself, mail me if you're curious--I'd be happy to elaborate.
Well, I went back for a checkup every month or so, and everything seemed normal enough. Dr. Shaver had saved my life I guess by "nipping it in the bud" before it had spread. Or so we thought.
In October of 1995 I was a full time student at ASU West. I was working on a paper in the computer lab one Wednesday afternoon, and suddenly got this sharp pain in my right middle section. It felt like it was behind my right lung, near the bottom. I was annoyed, but I kept typing. I have a very high tolerance to pain, but even I couldn't concentrate long enough between stabbing pains to continue to write my paper. So I called my mom, who is a Registered Nurse, and described my symptoms to her. She said she would call the doctor and see what he thought. My mom told me it might be my gall bladder because that type of problem runs through my dad's side of the family. I wasn't thrilled about hearing that, but some answer was better than none. So, I packed up my stuff and walked to my study group across campus. It felt better when I was standing up and walking anyway. Maybe it was something I ate? Maybe I had been horseplaying around too much the night before? Who knows... I got to my study group and sat down. I nearly jumped out of my seat, my right side just throbbed! It felt like there was a spike in the chair that just entered my back and poked out my ribs. So I sat down again, this time, without my back touching the back of the chair, and it felt much better. I explained my pain to the 4 fellow students and they thought it could very well be my gall bladder. I went home early and rested.
My mom had set up an ultrasound that next morning. I made small talk with the lab tech but she wouldn't even give me a hint to what my ultra sound revealed. I knew she knew, but I didn't know how bad it was. Well, turns out that there was good news, and bad news. And funny enough, the results came back the next day, Friday the 13th.
The good news was that there was nothing wrong with my gall bladder at all, the bad news was that there were 5 or 6 large cysts in my liver. I wasn't so surprised this time. But I was wondering, "What is large? How large is large?" The liver guided biopsy provided more answers. Which, by the way, that is another test I don't recommend. Having a 6 inch needle piercing through your lung while you're awake isn't my idea of fun, although I thought it was very interesting. It went a lot smoother than I thought, it just felt like I was being pinched on the inside a few times; this is while they were taking the samples of the cysts. But when the anesthesia wore off and my whole right side felt like it had been kicked a few times, then, well, the novelty of a liver biopsy ended.
The first oncologist I saw was very pessimistic. He told me (and my parents) that I had about 6 months to live. The cancer matched up with my old colon cancer cells perfectly, and they already knew how aggressive that was. This doctor was basically asking me how I wanted my chemo, "to dine in, or to go!?" Since I already sneaked a peak at the pathology report earlier that week, I wasn't as glum as the doctor who thought he was breaking the news to me. I was thinking, "Alright, hurry up and shut up, so I can leave and get a second opinion!" I acted polite and solemn and thanked him for his time, I told him I would get back to him on my decision and left with my parents. I had no intentions of ever going back. It was deja-vu. Again, I took the news better than anyone, but this time, I wasn't so enthusiastic. I thought, "well, cutting out this organ isn't going to work this time."
I finished up what school work I could that week, took some tests and gave my presentations. I then talked to my instructors and took an Incomplete for all my classes. Most of them were very understanding. When I told some of my classmates why I was dropping out, they were very sympathetic and understanding; I was really touched. I guess after hearing my story, they were more worried about my situation than I was. I guess I was still living in denial.
I had a lot of time to think then. Think about why there were never any more follow-up tests done such as MRI's, CAT scans or at least follow up CEA tests. Not even any suggestions of follow up chemotherapy to finish off the last possible remaining cancerous cells, just as a precaution since actual cancer was found. I never thought of any of this at the time shortly after surgery, but I did after that diagnosis in October. There is no use in crying over spilt milk, so I moved on and focused more on the present.
Another sidenote: There are two things I really don't believe in, statistics and chemotherapy. I think statistics are just a matter of timing. Statistically speaking I shouldn't have had colon cancer anyway until I was near my 60's if anytime. My mom's dad died of colon cancer in his late 60's, but my type of colon cancer is totally different from his. My cancer was dubbed "spontaneous," since it didn't run in the family. As for chemo, I know it works in some cases, and in some cases there are no other options; as in my case. Doctors couldn't (or wouldn't) operate on my liver and take out the tumors because there were too many, too large, and too spread out over both hemispheres of the liver. Doctors hesitated about suggesting a liver transplant since my disease did not originate in the liver, and the new liver would just bring a whole new set of complications to my life; so that just left me with chemotherapy. I believe that chemo is overkill. It damages all fast growing cells, and contrary to popular belief, I like most of my fast growing cells. It would be like burning down your whole house in order to get rid of a painting on the wall that you didn't like.
So while my mom looked relentlessly for more oncologists to take me to, I looked for information about more alternative ways of healing. I immediately got an account with an information server and started surfing the net as soon as I could on my brand new computer. My parents were smart, they gave me something to preoccupy myself with. My mom knew my diagnosis before I did so my parents almost demanded that I go out and buy a nice $2,400 system with their credit card. I sort of knew why they were suddenly pushing for something that they had previously been dragging their feet for the last few years, but I didn't care. My mom had given me $500 to blow any way I liked when we found out I had colon cancer in '94, and that did keep my mind off things for those 3 weeks. So, with a machine and some spending money equaling several fold of the last amount, I knew I was in trouble, but I tried to enjoy myself.
With my new PrimeNet account, I looked up acupuncture and Reiki and other forms of hands on faith healing. I was looking anywhere and everywhere; spreading myself real thin in my vast efforts to find all the answers at once. After a few days of running myself ragged, I just about gave up. I slowed my pace considerably and seriously thought about enjoying my life instead of driving myself nuts looking for answers that didn't exist (or so I thought). I never thought that I was very depressed about the whole thing. I did have fits of anger and sadness when no one was around in the first few weeks, but I got over it. I knew my odds weren't that good, but odds were just odds, and I knew I had a very strong will to live.
I began seeing a Doctor of Acupuncture 3 times a week and found a Reiki master who lived nearby. I am a highly logically driven person by nature. I love math and the sciences and was never really involved much in any type of religion. I believed in the possibility of a god, and I still do. I really think acupuncture works, 4,000 years worth of Chinese patients can't all be wrong. And after giving it a try, besides enjoying the weird sensation of looking like a human pin cushion, I felt like it was doing some good. The doctor also gave me a plethora of Chinese herbs that were supposed to fight off cancer and boost my immune system. Now the Reiki was a little more difficult to accept. I pride myself on being open minded, so I wasn't going to exclude the possibility of Reiki making a difference. Mandy, the Reiki master, was, quite honestly speaking; weird. Weird or not, I did feel like it was doing some good, even if felt more like a shrink session. And that is a different story as well. =)
Since the initial pain in mid October, the pain had grown worse by the day. The pain would go on cycles, a few days really agonizing, a few days just kind of annoying. Well, Dr. Bruner's advice was to constantly take percocets (a narcotic) to build up a level in my body to fight the pain even on my good days. I was real reluctant to do that since I really don't like taking pain pills, being goofy and being cooped up at home since I couldn't drive under the influence just didn't sound fun. So I would just tolerate the pain as best I could and keep myself preoccupied by going out with friends as often as I could. Well, the worst batch of few days I had was a week before Thanksgiving, I was so worried that I asked my mom if there was a possibility that my liver would explode or something because that's what it felt like. After consulting with the good doctor, she reassured me it probably couldn't happen; so that was some relief. Well that Friday I was so miserable that I was about to start taking the percs and just veg until whenever, but for some strange reason the pain mysteriously vanished, I could magically walk again normally, sit down; and have free range of movement with relative ease. The weekend came and went and I was worried that my high cycle was ending and the pain was due to return. Well, a whole week went by and still, no pain. I was scared in a weird way, thinking that the pain would come back with a vengeance. I couldn't figure out why the pain had stopped, I hadn't changed anything, not my already vegetarian diet, my lifestyle, nor any drugs. I think the only real difference that I could come up with is that I had people praying for me, and lots of them. My mom was spreading my news far and wide about my misfortune while looking for possible answers. People my mom knew and new acquaintances vowed to pray for me and spread my news far and wide. My new girlfriend, who was much more in the faith than I, told me that I was a "prayer magnet."
I'll never be quite sure if it was prayer or not that kept the pain away; but I can't come up with any other plausible reason, no matter how much I felt uncertain about religion. I'm still not sure if I truly believe, but I do believe in the power of prayer now. (Which is another long story)
A friend of my mother's, a doctor, suggested an oncologist at the Unversity of Arizona's Cancer Center in Tucson, Arizona. They were supposed to be on the cutting edge of technology when it came to helping people with cancer. Well, my dad drove my mom and I an hour and a half south from Phoenix to find some new answers. After the doctors had looked over my test results, they said (in a much more optimistic fashion mind you) that my only option was chemotherapy and that they had some "new" studies with varying types and dosages of chemo-drugs. Two of those drugs they mentined I remembered from my grandfather when he was on them to try to combat his colon cancer in 1984. Hadn't they come up with something more efficient in 11 years? I told the docs that I would consider participating in a study, even though I knew I could get the same drugs off a study, much more conveniently up in Phoenix. We drove home that day, thinking it was a waste of time. I was really disappointed, if this was the cutting edge, then there wasn't much hope.
I got tons of advice from just about everyone. Suggestions ranging from shark-cartilage to specific types of chemo drugs for ways to combat the cancer. Then there were the suggestions what to do with my life: Such as "Well, if you have any travel plans, I would consider doing them now before you don't feel up to it." and "I suggest talking to your Priest/Minister/Father(you name it) about getting closer to God." Incidentally, the only closer to God that I got was getting closer to someone who was already closer to God (my girlfriend). smile Besides acupuncture and Reiki, I juiced many times a day, until I was too weak or apathetic to move and clean the heavy juicer. I tried to stay in good spirits, physical and mental shape as well. I admit, by then, I was getting casually depressed more often because I was able to do less and less, and it took more and more energy to do it.
A NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK....?
A friend of the family, Sally, suggested an oncologist to my mom. Sally said that this doctor had treated her mom and she thought he could help. I didn't really see the use in going to another oncologist who was going to say the same thing all over again, but I thought it would make my mom happy.
Besides being someone who didn't just spout out the same old chemo routine and pushing for some sort of study, Dr. Bruner was optimistic. He didn't recommend chemo right off the bat, he even asked what I wanted to do. I know that I have little medical experience pertaining to chemo, but him asking me what I wanted to do about my situation was very refreshing. I told him about the alternative methods of healing that I was already participated in, and told him my views on chemotherapy. He seemed content on what I was doing and explained why every doctor seemed to want me on some sort of study; I was the perfect lab rat. He gave me a prescription for some pretty hefty pain killers and advised me to come back in a few weeks to run some more tests to see how I was doing. Near the end of our visit (me and my mom), my mother asked if he knew of any new studies pertaining to colon cancer in the liver. He looked in some files and there was one, just one. It was a letter, calling to doctors about a new program at the National Institute of Cancer. It involved a procedure called an Isolated Liver Perfusion. Dr. Bruner gladly made us a Xerox of the sheet and wished us best of luck with it even though I could tell that he didn't think my chances were good qualifying for the study. I think that he never would have brought up the study because he didn't want to fill me full of false hopes, or maybe I am just reading too much into things; who knows.
My mom called Dr. Richard Alexander in Bethesda, Maryland. They talked for a while as I sat there eagerly watching my mom trying to figure out where the conversation was going by just listening to my mom's side. It wasn't the usual, "Oh, well thank you for your time and we will consider your offer..." routine. It turns out that Dr. Alexander was very interested in me. Although I acted very sarcastic and condescending at first, deep inside I thought that this could be the break that I needed. I was just so sure that this was going to fall through and leave me with nothing again. My mom seemed real hopeful, and she immediately got back on the phone and scheduled more tests. We were to FED-EX them the results ASAP. "Sure," I thought jokingly, "whats a few more hundred millirads anyway?"
I never had much of a chance to travel before, especially out of state. I always wanted to fly back east and see the Boston area and maybe see the Smithsonian buildings while I was at it. It always sounded like a pipe dream though.
Let me warn you, be careful what you wish for, you might get it!
I was scheduled to fly out to the National DC airport on January 4. Reflecting back a bit, I had to laugh; the summer of 1994 I kept saying to people, "I could really use a vacation." It had been 3 or 4 years since I had a chance to get a way for a little while, and what do you know, I got one. Granted, it was at Good Samaritan Hospital for extensive surgery. But I got one. I had no responsibilities, I could do just about anything I wanted to; in bed, in a gown, carting around my IV leash. I had all the pain medication I could ever want, and I suppose that was its own vacation all in itself. So, in a weird way, I did get a vacation. Next time I will wish more specifically.
My mom and I flew to Washington DC on Thursday, January 4 to get my final confirmation to be accepted into the study. Everything at the NCI went fine, but the weather wasn't as nice. It began to snow Saturday night, and it didn't stop until well into Tuesday. Being from Phoenix, Arizona, I never really saw much snow. So, I welcomed the snow Saturday night, walked around in the novelty of it all and felt giddy as a schoolboy. Well, Sunday morning came, the shuttle service called to inform us that it would not pick us up because of the heavy snow, not to mention that the airport was snowed out completely. Hmmmm, maybe snow wasn't as cool as I thought it was. The Blizzard of '96, as it was soon called, held us until Thursday. I wouldn't have been in so set on going back home, but my surgery was that following Tuesday and I wanted (as well as my mom) to tie up some loose ends before surgery. It was a mess, but we got back to sunny Phoenix with 3 days to spare before surgery. We even got to see DC a little before the snow storm hit. Even during the blizzard, I got to experience walking 2 miles in the freezing snow to get some food, while helping people push their snow-bound cars to safety. It was really fun! I had seen enough snow to keep me content for a lifetime, but I still thought the whole snowbound experience was really fun and adventurous.
It was risky getting out of DC, it was even riskier thinking we could fly back in a few days at whim. But as luck would have it, we left and made it back without any major problems. I was in the hospital starting Monday morning, for pre-op preparations. I got so sign more consent forms than thought possible. Every little concise detail was gone over with a fine tooth comb. Everything seemed good enough for, "government," work. There arose a problem though. On the last CT scan of my lungs, a lesion appeared. It was assumed that it was the colon cancer spreading. One of the stipulations of being accepted to the study was hat the cancer had to be confined to the liver from another point source; it couldn't be anywhere else. I was alarmed! I wanted in this study! Turns out, the board reviewed my case and they decided to overlook that little detail. The small spot was in the bottom of my right lung, so they decided to just remove it during surgery anyway.
Tuesday morning, I was woken up around 5:30 for body stats and a blood draw; as I soon learned that was routine. I wasn't scared, I was at peace with myself. After the nurses left, I just stayed up and listened to my walkman drumming to the energizing tunes on my bed. In my newfound euphoria, I discovered that I could barely move without being in a lot of pain. My high cycle of good days was over, and just in time. Whatever had kept me pain free for months had suddenly vanished. Although I was in massive pain, I was still happy, like a runner's high after a marathon. I had made it, I was glad when the anesthesiologist came in to give me a mild relaxant before surgery. My mom and Aunt said their good-byes to me and wished me luck. Then I was wheeled off, happy enough to walk myself down to the operating room.
I woke up that evening, blind and suffocating. It was made well known to me, what condition I would be in when I came back to ICU, complete with all the tubes and wires in me. So, I wasn't too worried when I came back, I was just upset that I felt like I couldn't breathe, even though I knew I was on a ventilator. I couldn't feel much pain yet, but with all the tubes down my throat, I felt like I couldn't breathe and since I couldn't very well talk, I shook my right hand violently until someone got the clue that I wanted to write something. They suctioned my lungs a few times which made me feel better, and I wrote them a thank you note. I felt like a race car in a pit-stop area, the pit crew was furiously working on me to get me back on track. Although I don't remember seeing a thing, I remember hearing a lot, the staff's voices, the machines' hums and beeps and other patients in the other curtained off sections of the large room.
Wednesday, the nurses had me sitting up, and eventually walking by that night; granted I had enough pain medication in me to drop a rhino, but that's besides the point. They reluctantly released me from ICU Wednesday night, to a private room because I couldn't stand the open atmosphere of ICU. I could handle recovering myself, but I did not want to hear other patients coming back from surgery, hacking, gasping, coughing, and in mild hysterics like I once was; it was just too much. So, I was admitted into a nice dark QUIET room that night, and I didn't care how many times I was woken up in the middle of the night, it was still better than ICU [not to say that ICU wasn't a good facility, it was excellent, I just didn't like the openness and noise level.]
I healed remarkably fast again. I'm not sure which I saw more of in my trip; jello, or snow. smile Slowly but surely I was getting my appetite back and walking a little more each day. There were no major complications during or after surgery. The biopsy of the lung spot turned up negative, it was just scar tissue. My mother and my Aunt Betty were there at least 12 hours a day to mostly, watch me sleep. On Sunday, the last of my IVs were taken out and it looked as though all my blood test results were in normal parameters for my condition. I wanted to go home something fierce by then. I really liked the staff at the NCI and it has been the best run hospital I've ever had the pleasure (misfortune?) to stay at, but I wanted home bad. The doctors, a little baffled, couldn't see any reason why to keep me any longer than I wanted to be there. They were puzzled because no one had recovered that fast, and even though they had never released anyone that quickly before, I was free to go. So we left Tuesday morning. It was a grueling plane trip back, but I finally made it home. I was exhausted, but glad I had made the trip home.
Again, I had lost about 30 pounds during the few weeks after surgery. This surprised the doctors more, because it was expected that I would have gained 10 to 15 pounds because of water retention due to possible side effects of the chemotherapy drugs used. I didn't think recovering was as hard as it was from my colectomy in 1994, but I think it took me longer this time.
My first tests back in Dr. Bruner's office were very positive. My incision looked (like a road map) healthy. My CEA test was 376, which was loads better than 1400+, but I was still anticipating eagerly the day when it would be below 10. [A CEA between 0 - 10 is normal.] I was getting my energy level back, slowly but surely. It seemed as if I lived off of percocets, which I wasn't terribly thrilled about, but I managed quite nicely. My first 6 week checkup at the NCI showed that I was responding wonderfully to the procedure and my CEA was then 76. More importantly, besides the tumors shrinking to about 20% of their pre-operative size, they were no longer dense tumors, but now fluid filled sacs of dead cells. I was one of the best lab rats they've seen. smile I was just amazed to hear that there was still good news coming my way. A few weeks ago, I went to Dr. Bruner's again and my CEA was 46 and all my liver functions were officially back to "normal." I couldn't have been a whole lot happier.
Things are getting back to normal now. I'm trying to catch up in my school work, all the incompletes from last semester, on top of the 12 credits from this semester. Needless to say, I have a lot to keep me busy. If there aren't anymore rude interruptions, I hope to graduate in winter of 1997 with a BA in secondary education, emphasis in math. I would like to teach high school upper division math classes in northern Phoenix.
I have my second 6 week checkup this Friday, April 11th. I expect more good news. They said they would probably like to put me on chemotherapy for a few months to insure that any last remaining cancer cells wouldn't have a chance to grow back, if they ever were to. I still don't like chemo, but I would gladly undergo it to help insure that this colon cancer doesn't spread to yet another organ. Now if I can just talk them into waiting until the spring semester is over until they start chemo on me. smile.
Looking back on the whole experience, it hasn't been totally bad. I did manage to find a very loving and supportive girlfriend through this mess. This Friday will mark our fifth month together. We'll have to wait until I get back to celebrate. I did get the chance to see the Smithsonian Institutes and the DC area. Additionally, since the NCI is paying for my checkups and airfare for the next 60 years or so, I have a feeling I'll get to see a lot more of that area in the future.
I understand that the procedure I went through can not help everyone in my circumstance, and it is very traumatic; but, by all means, I highly recommend it if it can help you.
I am eternally grateful for the whole surgical and nursing staff at the NCI Building 10 who helped me get my life back (not to mention all the family and friends who helped out). My hope is to help others, by spreading the word of this amazing procedure.
I have learned that life can throw some real curve balls at you sometimes, but things have a funny way of working out, one way or another. Never lose hope for very long. It is normal to be dispirited for short bouts of time, but the key is to not get too depressed and totally give up. Take bad news in stride, re-evaluate your situation, and move on as best you can.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Editor's note July 12, 2002: I haven't heard from Eric in quite a few years and haven't a way to find out how he's doing or even whether he's still alive - I hope for the best!
This CancerGuide Page By Eric Roberts. © Eric Roberts
Last Updated: May 10, 1996