– Turning the corner?

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In PART I, I discussed learning of my liver cancer and what went through my mind. In PART II, I described the first phase of my treatment. Now, in PART III, I want to discuss the second round which, hopefully, will be a turning point for me.

In mid-December, I began my Immunotherapy, which is a homeopathic-like approach to treating my tiny tumors. Basically, I am injected with two chemicals, Zirabev and Tecentriq, designed to trigger my immune system to fight microscopic tumors in my liver and the blood vessels feeding them. The cost for these drugs is mind-boggling, even after Medicare and my insurance supplement. Nonetheless, I haven’t much of an alternative, and I’m pushing forward with it.

Just prior to receiving my “drip” of the drugs, my doctor reviewed the possible side effects; e.g., skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea, and potential death. Of course, I had to sign forms to hold the doctors harmless should something go awry. Come to think of it, they would probably have more men willfully volunteer to take the drug if they said a possible side effect would be a five hour erection. I imagine there would be long lines if they had such a proviso. My doctor thought I had a point, after all, this is how Viagra got started as a heart medicine.

Afterwards, I went in for my first “drip” which lasted about an hour and a half. Thinking of the side effects, I was a little nervous at first. Fortunately, the “drip” ran its course and I didn’t feel the worse for it. I just didn’t like sitting in a chair for an hour and a half to take it. This will now become a monthly routine for me (I went in for my second “drip” on January 6th). This time I was smart enough to bring a book.

Just before Christmas, I went in for a Post-Op consult with my surgeon, who performed my first procedure on one of my large tumors. We scheduled January 13th (a Thursday), to go after the second and final large tumor. God willing, this will be my last. A CTscan in a few weeks will reveal if all of this is working.

The second procedure went off fine but I was a little disoriented from the medication and sore at the point of entrance (the groin area). The surgeon thought it went well. I spent the rest of the day in an easy chair falling in and out of sleep.

As an aside, in my first procedure, I was asked to lower my underwear a bit on the table for the doctor to access the groin area. Okay, no problem. On the second procedure, “Okay Mr. Bryce, take off the underwear.”

“Excuse me?” I asked. I was instructed to drop them off the table. Now I understand these are professional people who have seen a lot of things, but having to reveal your modesty to the four female nurses in the room was a first for me. Maybe I would have felt more comfortable with a brass pole in the room. Afterwards, my lady friends laughed at my modesty. “Oh Tim, you don’t know what we have to go through. What you are describing is nothing new.”

Maybe, but it was a first for me.

The next four days were miserable. Unlike the first procedure where I felt the pain of the incision on Day 3, and had pain medication to treat it, this time I experienced severe stomach cramps and bloating. The pain was such, that I only slept two hours the first night, thereby turning me into a zombie.

Realizing there was a blockage somewhere, I turned to good old Milk of Magnesia which eventually broke the log jam. Nonetheless, I still had no appetite and couldn’t eat for four days, thereby causing me to lose weight. I drank plenty of fluids, but eating was a No-No.

To make matters worse, I had a plumbing problem outside my house. It seems the main water line from the street to the house was ruptured by a tree root, causing me to lose water. As this was the weekend, the plumbers wouldn’t come out. You cannot imagine how uncomfortable it was to go out to the main valve, get down on your hands and knees, and turn the water on and off, particularly after an operation. Fortunately, the plumbers had it all corrected on Monday.

For four days, I flayed around my house in pain and needing sleep. Finally, sometime on Sunday night the pain abated. I woke up knowing something had changed and I felt much better, So much so, I got up early Monday morning, ran the laundry, took a shower, made coffee, and did a puzzle at the kitchen table. I wasn’t 100% yet, but I was definitely in the 90s. I lost weight during this process. I’m almost back to my fighting weight as in my high school football days. This was unbelievable to me.

Bottom-line: it’s good to be back amongst the living. I just hope that I do not have to go through this type of operation again.

As you know, I like to find a little humor in everything, but this is not funny. I feel like I’ve been beaten down, thereby killing my spirit. It’s kind of like getting a “noogie” everyday, and you tire of it rapidly. I don’t know if it is depression, but I find I am more irritable these days, ready to snap at anything, and time has no meaning anymore. I may not have the most severe case of cancer, but what I have weighs heavily on me. It is hard to be be optimistic and positive when this hangs over you, but I will persevere.

In talking this over with some senior friends of mine, it seems as we get older, our problems do not decrease but actually multiply, be it health related, home, politics, health, financial, family, etc. In football, this is known as “piling on” which is bound to unhinge anyone. It’s a matter of how much “piling on” we’re willing to accept before we snap. It tests all of us.

Sometime in early February, I am scheduled to get a CTscan which will reveal where I stand on my road to recovery. Hopefully the surgery is over, but I’ll still have my monthly “drips.” Thank God I have enough books to read.

Again, many thanks to all of you who extended best wishes during this process. You’re wonderful people.

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 © 2022 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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