– The treatment.

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In PART I, I described how I discovered cancer in my liver; the emotions I felt and my approach to the problem. Here, in PART II, I describe the beginning of my therapy.

Previously, I discussed how my medical team recommended the treatment I was to pursue. Chemotherapy and radiation was not used because the cancer remained localized in the liver and had not spread to other parts of my body. Consequently, they were to go in and surgically cutoff the blood vessels to my two large tumors, thereby killing them. This was to be done in two separate procedures.

On November 15th I had a consult with my surgeon, a doctor who performed two biopsies on me earlier in the year, and someone I trusted. He told me the pros and cons pertaining to this approach, “As to cons Tim, I want you to understand this is not a cure, but it will improve your quality of life and lengthen your time on this planet. However, you will likely have to monitor your condition for the remainder of your life and take action if it resurfaces.”

I responded by saying I would just like to be rid of the tumors and see what happens.

I’ve discovered medical care is all about trust. I have confidence in my medical team, but their administrative support staff leaves a lot to be desired. You get the uneasy feeling the left hand quite often doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. This is particularly true when you have multiple parties involved. As for me, this includes my Oncologist, my Surgeon, my Primary Care Physician, and another surgeon from Tampa General Hospital. Scheduling and communications between all parties were at times confusing. I do not blame the physicians, but I have some serious doubts about their administrative processing. As I’ve mentioned before, I also grow weary of answering the same medical questions over and over again at time of check-in. Oy!

I also discovered Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It doesn’t care about your station in life. In my many trips to visit doctors and test facilities, I think I’ve met people from all stratas of society. This leads me to believe you cannot buy yourself an easy out in terms of finding a cure. Consequently, cancer patients are on a constant quest for any cure that might help them, either legitimate or quackery.

Frankly, I am baffled why Cancer is proliferating and not abating. The waiting rooms at cancer centers are full. Is it because of the timing of the baby boomers or an insatiable pharmaceutical industry? Perhaps both, but I thought we would have made more progress by now.

On November 30th, shortly after Thanksgiving, I met with my Oncologist to discuss the road ahead. The surgery was scheduled for later in the week, December 2nd, to tackle my first big tumor. We would then perform tests to see if this was working properly and, if so, address my second tumor in early January.

My Oncologist wanted to go beyond this. As you may remember, I also have smaller tumors in my liver, and they are microscopic in size. In discussing my situation with his colleagues, he recommended Immunotherapy, which is a homeopathic-like approach to treating my tiny tumors. Two expensive doses of medicine would be injected intravenously to trigger my immune system to kick in and fight the microscopic tumors and the blood vessels feeding them. It sounded like a good idea to me as I could not withstand major surgery to remove the tumors. On December 16th, I will be administered the two drugs: Zirabev and Tecentriq. The cost for the one treatment is a whopping $19,509, but after Medicare and my supplement, I’ll have to pay $3,936.80. This will fulfill my deductible and the price should go down further for ensuing treatments. Nonetheless, I was noticeably startled by the costs.

On December 1st, the day before my surgery, I posted on Facebook, “Tomorrow morning is Round One with my fight with the Devil. I’m suited up and ready. Put me in Coach…”

I wanted to let my friends know I was mentally prepared for the operation. I wanted to see what kind of “Iron Man” I really was. I earned this title my senior year when I was playing football at Wyoming High School (Cincinnati). The award was given to the person who spent the most time on the field. As I was on every team, except the kickoff team, I won the award handily. I was proud of this, and it left an impression on me; it meant, if you wanted to get something done, you went through Bryce. This followed me through my professional career as I learned the importance of being resourceful and helping others, thereby making yourself invaluable. Now it was time to see if the “Iron Man” moniker would give me the strength to help conquer my Cancer.

The day before the operation, I occupied myself by running errands and making sure I had food in the fridge. I picked up a prescription of oxycodone for my pain medication, of which I never tried before, but my friends warned me it was strong stuff. I even washed my car, and put salt in my water softener. I did all of this to stay distracted from tomorrow’s ordeal. I was confident, but for some reason my stomach was upset, probably due to nerves. I took a pill to settle it down.

Late in the afternoon, I thought about God, and asked if I had led a good life. I recognize people do not always like what I have to say, both personally and professionally, but I always sought to honestly tell the truth, warts and all. I know a lot of people have trouble with this, thereby causing me to butt heads, but I couldn’t sleep with myself if I didn’t seek the truth. I miss my father with whom we held many animated arguments; not vicious, but cerebral where we hammered out a lot of problems for our product and customers. I miss his mental gymnastics greatly. I closed with a prayer.

The day of surgery, I woke early, got on the computer and checked my e-mails. I then showered and prepared myself according to the instructions given me by the surgeon’s staff. My brother came and drove me to the appointment and picked me up later. By 7:00am I was prepared both administratively and personally. At 8:00am I was the first one scheduled for surgery. They gave me my “martini” and I slipped off into La-La Land. I don’t know how long I was out, but I suspect it was an hour long procedure. I woke just as they were moving me out of surgery and back to my room where I would stay for the next two hours where the staff would observe me. Remarkably, I felt no pain whatsoever. The surgeon told me the procedure was very successful and went smoothly. One day later, I still felt no pain. “So much for the pain medication,” I thought.

Later in the day, I wrote on Social Media, “Just got home from surgery. First procedure was successful. Still dopey from the meds. Resting at home under new meds. First thing I ate after fasting was four White Castles, thereby completing the cleansing process.”

Basically, I wanted to let my friends know how I was progressing and that I still possessed a sense of humor.

Two days after the surgery, the pain finally kicked in, strongly I might add. I finally reached for the oxycodone which did its job rather well. I also felt lethargic and disoriented, so I settled into an easy chair for most of the day. The next day was a little better, but I still felt shots of pain whenever I coughed. Laughing was equally painful.

I guess the lesson for this chapter is realizing the mental gymnastics involved in planning for a cancer operation or any major surgery for that matter. You go in hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. This becomes rather taxing and wears you down. I’m not beaten yet, but I haven’t won either. The mental anguish wears heavily on you, at least it did for me, and grinds down your alertness and sense of humor.

Finally, I was very moved by the show of support over the last couple of days by well wishers. It was simply amazing and just plain good Ju-Ju! I literally heard from hundreds of people from around the world who offered kind thoughts and prayers. As I learned a long time ago, Prayers Work!

Next up: follow-up reviews of the procedure, a CTscan, and I begin the special meds on December 16th of which I am concerned about the side-effects. After this, the surgeon will go after Tumor #2 in early January and hopefully this will all start to abate. Then, of course, there are the Christmas holidays which normally means little to me due to the commercialization of the holidays and the loss of my wife around this time two years ago.

Many thanks to my family and inner circle of friends for your assistance during this time of difficulty, you were invaluable. A special thanks to “L.D.” for nursing me back to health.

I will write Part III of this log sometime in January as I learn more.

In the meantime, I will persevere!

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – For a listing of my books, click HERE.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2021 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on Spotify, WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; SVA RADIO – “Senior Voice America”, the leading newspaper for active mature adults; or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

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