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Honeymoon Period?

monica_sss
Posts: 57
Joined: Dec 2011

Hello, I am new to the forum but I have been "lurking" since late November. My Mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIA esophageal cancer late last year. She is currently doing weekly chemo and daily radiation. She just started week 3 of 5. After week 5 she will "rest" for a month and then have the esophagectomy surgery.

She is finally getting some digestive relief. She can now eat again (she was down to a liquid diet, and very little at that). This morning she had french toast, an egg, and chocolate milk. She's thrilled, after 8 weeks of eating very little and losing nearly 30 lbs., she has had 5 days of eating 3 meals per day again. She mentioned this to her Doctor and he said she was in the "honeymoon period." Obviously this deflated her balloon. We assumed that it was evidence of tumor shrinkage. Has anyone else heard of this honeymoon period? I wasn't there to ask questions. She is tolerating chemo well, no hair loss or nausea, and she is tolerating radiation well also. Despite that, we feel like we're waiting for the floor to fall out from under us.

p.s. I'm overwhelmed by the knowledge and support that the members here offer. It's heartbreaking and comforting at the same time.

monica_sss
Posts: 57
Joined: Dec 2011

Yes, given the circumstances, it is all a honeymoon period. The surgeon was the first person we met after dx, and he gave us the PET scan results (I am the primary caregiver btw), and with it he said "we're going for a cure." This was very encouraging. She is being seen at Johns Hopkins. In hindsight I feel like my question was probably a bit dumb, we just didn't really know what this comment meant -- or maybe it was a somewhat silly thing for the Dr. to say?

It all started with difficulty digesting food (not really swallowing, as the food would go down, but it would then build up and create a tight burning sensation - usually followed by the need to throw up). It was so tight on one instance that she thought it was a heart attack, things progressed from there and an endoscopy revealed the small tumor that had not yet gone through the wall, it is right at the stomach junction.

Thanks for sharing your story, it's great to "see" that life can go on. I have a car model 2003 and the GPS in it is completely inept due to road changes over the years, it's amazing we can get from point A to point B, I wonder if the old school Thomas Map books still exist.

monica_sss
Posts: 57
Joined: Dec 2011

Yes, given the circumstances, it is all a honeymoon period. The surgeon was the first person we met after dx, and he gave us the PET scan results (I am the primary caregiver btw), and with it he said "we're going for a cure." This was very encouraging. She is being seen at Johns Hopkins. In hindsight I feel like my question was probably a bit dumb, we just didn't really know what this comment meant -- or maybe it was a somewhat silly thing for the Dr. to say?

It all started with difficulty digesting food (not really swallowing, as the food would go down, but it would then build up and create a tight burning sensation - usually followed by the need to throw up). It was so tight on one instance that she thought it was a heart attack, things progressed from there and an endoscopy revealed the small tumor that had not yet gone through the wall, it is right at the stomach junction.

Thanks for sharing your story, it's great to "see" that life can go on. I have a car model 2003 and the GPS in it is completely inept due to road changes over the years, it's amazing we can get from point A to point B, I wonder if the old school Thomas Map books still exist.

JReed's picture
JReed
Posts: 463
Joined: Nov 2011

Our radiation onc told Don that his is in the same period - at about week three the tumor begins to shrink and eating is somewhat comfortable again - although Don still could not eat a steak or cheeseburger - but he is eating more and doing well. The onc also told us that is it also common at week 4 - 5 things start to rough again because the cumlimative effects of radiation (I'm sure spelling and grammar are not correct) begin to take a toll - the radiation will cause inflammation that can be very painful - there are meds for that also. I think Jerry Wright is going through that part of treatment now. The doc said this could last up to 2-3 weeks after treatment. He said then after that 2-3 weeks you start feeling somewhat good again and then BAM - surgery. This particular treatment seems to have the ups and downs - you never know what is going to happen from day to day - that's what the pioneers mean when they say ' sit down, fasten seat belt - you're in for a real roller coaster ride'.

When I first started reading this board, I thought to myself (do not smirk here William!) man these people must be the worst case scenarios - this won't be our deal at all - actually I was feeling pretty smug and I thought I don't know folks, this sure doesn't sound like us. Well - I'll be da** - here we are - right with everyone else. I have no idea what the next few weeks will be like - of course, hoping for the best and grateful for everyone who prays for Don. I realize looking back, how very naive I was - and grateful that I continued to read and post here.

So yes, we have not only heard of this honeymoon period - we are in it. We were married on Christas Eve 21 years ago and did not take a honeymoon and if anyone thinks this is a honeymoon - they are out of their minds. This is only a better time in the 6 weeks of treatment - certainly not a honeymoon - but eat up - from what I've been told the weight gain, if you're lucky will be a nice little stock up for the next down side.

Eat, enjoy the little feeling better period, know that likely some more not so hot days are coming - but those too, shall pass. This stage is temporary for some of us - and better days are coming.

Good luck to your mom and you and hang tough - we will get there.

Hugs to you,
Judy

monica_sss
Posts: 57
Joined: Dec 2011

Thank you for your post Judy, I will be interested to hear your updates as the honeymoon progresses to the next phase. I hope it's as comfortable as it can be, good luck to you and Don too.

p.s. sorry for the double post above

JReed's picture
JReed
Posts: 463
Joined: Nov 2011

For sure we'll keep you posted. Your mothers symptoms were exactly what Don had. Seems to be a pretty common sympton. Don has been fairly healthy since 1996 when he had a heart attack. After the heart attack he didn't seem to have heartburn, so we thought that the heartburn was probably angina and wrote it off as that. Little did we know that was more likely just a coincidence. Oh that darned hindsight.

Please keep us posted as to how your mom is doing. Jerry Wright is just a few weeks ahead of Don, so we kinda use him as a measuring stick, and you may feel free to use Don as your measuring stick. Not everyone is alike, some similar things and some things unique to that survivor. But the pioneers on here have told me and I have found it to be true, that someone, somewhere has likely dealt with the issues you are dealing with. I still consider myself a newbie on here, but I am happy that we have something to share with others as to what our experiences have been thus far. I still ask questions here because some can provide an answer or if I'm frustrated, they provide support.

Sending thoughts and prayers your way - so glad you've decided to post - you have stumbled upon the best group on the internet - sometimes we just get these nice little 'bonuses' in life!

Judy

TerryV's picture
TerryV
Posts: 916
Joined: Jul 2011

Welcome Monica :)

Hate to say Welcome to a cancer forum, but you have "lurked" at one of the most informed, involved EC forums anywhere.

Glad to hear that your mom is doing well. There is a "grace" period between during chemo & rads if you're lucky. Hopefully another after treatment and before surgery. Everyone's senses are a bit different though, so odors or tastes may alter temporarily.

You're joining a good group. Judy & Don are very actively going through treatment now. Judy's been quite an investigator on behalf of her husband. Jerry (Wright?) just completed treatments and is waiting for surgery and dealing with a few after radiation challenges. I'm sure there are others, but I'm at a loss right now to come up with names.

Know that we are here supporting you, rooting for your mom, praying for continued success.

Love & Hugs to you,

Terry
Wife to Nick, age 48
dx 05/19/11, T3N1M0
28 rads/2 weeks in-patient Cisplatin/5FU
THE 09/08/11
NED 09/13/11

jgwright's picture
jgwright
Posts: 252
Joined: Oct 2011

I see people like Judy and Terry taking my name in vain... Nah, I love them. It's just cool, and yes, I finished with radiation/chemo, and now I have some ulceration where the tumor was. (The endoscopy didn't show the tumor!!! wAHOO...) But it did show ulcers, which explains the pain, the nausea, and the lack of desire to eat (although I had a pretty good helping of beef stroganoff tonight).

Anyway, there was a period in the 2nd and 3rd week where eating became easier. Which, sadly, went away. But hey, if it damages or destroys the EC, I'm willing to take a bit of temporary misery.

I'm 65, and normally teach electrical technology at a local community college, although I'm on Family Medical Leave right now.

Welcome to our wonderful family. Where we love one another, and hate what has happened to us.

--Jerry
--T4N1M0
--Dx 10/11/2011 Correctly Diagnosed a couple of weeks later!

mam132
Posts: 20
Joined: Nov 2011

I am on round 5 of chemo diagnosed stage IV esphageal cancer in early October 2011. I have had little side effects no weight loss,little hair loss and work every day. I had a met tumor in my left eye which is no longer there and was scoped this week and the tumor in my esophagas is now 1/5 the size it was in early October. My Doctor said I am exceeding all expectations and has given me permission to go on vacation for a couple weeks. Florida here I come. Anyway I think that God has a lot to do with how I feel and I am a Pig Headed Irishman who say's to hell with cancer. The Doc says the mind can overcome a geat deal.

Pray, Pray and Pray some more.

Michael McDonald

sandy1943's picture
sandy1943
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Welcome on board. My surgery was in May 2008. The couple of weeks after chemo before surgery seemed like a "honeymoon" It was very good. Two days before surgery I went out to eat steak because I didn't know when I could eat another one. Even now, I can't enjoy it the way I did then. I have to take small bites and eat very slow; But that's the only thing I have a real problem with. If I'm careful I can eat anything I want. I still have to have dilations occasionally because of My esophagus narrowing. This is my side effect from the surgery. Everyone does not have this problem.
It will seem like a rollercoaster ride, but it will be worth it down the road. When one gets an NED report like Donna did today, then we all celebrate.
We will be here for you. Praying for mom to continue with the good results from treatment.
Sandra

dwhite0002
Posts: 130
Joined: Jan 2010

I remember the "honeymoon period" well. I finished my radiation and chemo. I felt great and was able to eat, swallow, etc. I went with my extended family to Gatlinburg, TN for Thanksgiving.

I had surgery early in Dec. So, I refer to the month prior as "honeymoon."

I also joke about my "last supper" the night before my surgery....a trip to Red Lobster where I ordered the largest meal they had, a drink, and dessert! I ate and drank it ALL and will always remember it with a sigh...

GOOD LUCK and GODSPEED!!!

-David, Hillsboro, OH age 37 5 yr survivor

Court_Ren
Posts: 28
Joined: Feb 2012

Hang in there. I am new to this page as well. My husband has stage four. He thought that he was having gallbladder attacks, but nope cancer. What an ugly word. He is having trouble swallowing things like bread. They said that his esophagus is thickened. I am also scared of when the floor will fall out from under us. We have been together 9 years and married for 8. We have a little girl that is 6. I don't want her to loose her dad it scares me. I don't want to wake up some day and he isn't there anymore. These are all things that we all feel. I am so glad that we have a place to talk about it. Have you tried making her smoothies? I put an ensure, and whey protein in with frozen fruit, ice cream, milk, etc... They are full of calories and they taste good. My husband was getting sick of just the taste of ensure. So I have come up with ways of hiding it in stuff. Smoothies are an awesome way to do that. He has lost 65lbs in 6 months, and now I have been able to keep his weight stable for a few weeks. I just don't want him to loose anymore. Hang in there and let us all know if there is anything that you have anymore questions on.

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