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Hope II

BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

To make a long story short, I’ve been battling CRC for almost 7 year, Dec. 14th will be the start of my 7th year. On Dec. 14, 2004 I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, (1) tumor in my liver the size of a pea and (3) spots on my liver. Immediately following the dx, I was put on folfox and had very good results, 6 wks later the spots were gone from liver and the tumor on my colon began to decrease in size. March 2005, I had a colon resection; they took 6 inches of colon and left the rest. After I recouped from surgery I finished my folfox and (5) wks of radiation. A month later I was declared NED, I took the next 4 months off. Fast forward to Feb 2006, one tumor reappears on my liver, doctors decide that surgery to chryo tumor was the answer, they did, and for the next 2 years I was cancer free. June of 2008, I go for scan, they find a spot very near chryo’d tumor, this time they decide to do a liver resection. Surgery goes well, I’m NED until Oct of 2009. We do a periodic ct scan, results show 2 more spots appear, a very small spot on a lymph node in intestinal area, near liver, and the other in the plural of my right lung. At that point my doctor tells me that my cancer is now incurable,the plural tumor is inoperable, and chemo (folfiri) is my only option. Two years later, Oct 2011, doctor is surprised that no other cancer appears, especially given the fact that I was taking chemo every 4-5 weeks. We decide to do a Pet scan to see if there’s anything new, and as it turns out, there’s not. The tumor in my intestine has been the same size for 2 year, it’s showing up hot in the Pet scan, and the spot in my plural looks to be calcified, no activity shown on Pet. Today, both my onc and surgeon decide the once inoperable tumor in my lung is now operable, they want to remove it along with the tumor in my gut in the near future, early Dec, 2011.

I’m not too worried about abdominal surgery, I’ve had (3) up to this point, and I know what to expect. I’m far more worried about the plural surgery. They’re going to do (2) 2” incisions between my ribs, deflate my right lung, cut out the tumor if possible, depends on what they see. Doc says it’s going to hurt like hell. Not looking forward to this at all, but I’m going to do it. Two years ago, I was told that I had incurable cancer, after this surgery, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be cancer free again. Although it may be temporary 3,6,9 months, a year or two or five, I’m going for it. The lesson to be learned here is to never lose hope and keep battling because you just never know.

A little about me, in January of 2012 I’ll turn 50, can’t wait! They will surgically have to remove the smile off my face after that party. I have a wife and 9 year old son who I absolutely adore. Throughout this ordeal, I have and continue to work full time. Despite my cancer, I’m in good health and I rarely get sick. My life is fairly normal, I cut my grass, shovel the snow, chase after my kid, I have a good life.

I’ll post after I heel from my surgery.

Brenda Bricco
Posts: 579
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks for posting! We need to hear your kind of story over and over again. Good luck with everything and opt out of the surgery to remove your smile. ;) GOD's blessing to you.

Kathleen808's picture
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Thanks for sharing your story. Thinking about you for your surgery and I've sent up a prayer for you. You're a strong man.


Posts: 428
Joined: Jul 2011

Thanks for giving us hope. It's the best present. Lisa

ddpekks's picture
Posts: 162
Joined: Sep 2011

You give me hope for my husband and I pray that all goes well for you. Like Brenda said, don't have the smile removed, it looks good on you.


Posts: 1428
Joined: Feb 2011

Awesome that they're gonna go in and take it out!! Am I to understand you'd go in once a month for folfiri and not on the every two week schedule?? Happy upcoming BIG 50!! :) :)

BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

I've had a snoot full (47 doses total) of chemo and it got to the point where I couldn't do it every 2 weeks and enjoy my life. So, I made the decision, to receive treatment every 4 weeks and that turned into every 4-5 weeks. This works for me, I take my chemo on Wednesday afternoons. If I can, I'll limp into my office on Thurs/Friday, do nothing for the entire weekend, go back to work for half day on Monday & Tuesday, by Wednesday I'm at about 90% and feeling a lot better. The extra few weeks off normalizes my life! I have to drag my a$$ into treatment every time, the few days before treatment I try to justify another week off, but in the end I do what's right and take the treatment. I am very fortunate that the biology of my disease is very slow. I wish everyone on chemo could do the same, it has made a huge difference in my life. Let me just say this, I when I decided to extend the time between doses, I was and am fairly healthy, experiencing no pain, I rarely get sick, haven't had a cold or flu in years, to look at me you'd never know that I was sick. My point being that just because I do it, doesn't mean you should. Stay well...

keystone's picture
Posts: 134
Joined: Dec 2010

I loved this story even though you have been riding what I call the perpetual roller coaster you are enjoying life when its just coasting!!! Best wishes for your surgery and Happy Birthday in advance and PLEASE keep us informed!

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6722
Joined: Feb 2009

Glad that you are operable and they will be doing the surgery soon. You have had your battle but glad that it is going your way. Good luck in the upcoming surgery. You can always tolerate the pain as long as you know it was for a good purpose (getting the cancer out).


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hey, we could almost be brothers - we've got alot in common, you and I.

I just turned 50 this year. I've battled cancer for 7.5 years. I've had cancer 3x and knocked it back down 3x. I've also had cancer in the pleura of my lung as well.

Sound familiar?

Well, it ought to. Sounds like I'm playing your song, am I right?

Lung surgery is scary if you've never done it before. I've done 2 major lung surgeries now and 4 majors overall.

It sounds to me like they are going to do a VATS surgery on you from what you are describing. I actually have done a full thoracotomy this last time. And prior I did a robotic surgery, using the da Vinci robot. It's similar to the VATS only the surgeon uses joysticks from a console to cut on you, instead of standing directly over you. It provides greaters flexibility and dexterity - less pain and quicker recovery - that's the rumor anyway:)

Yes, it will hurt, but they can manage the pain pretty good in the hospital. You will be outfitted with a chest tube which drains the blood into this clear plastic suitcase that they use to measure the output. When it gets to 50ml or below, they will remove the chest tube.

Biggest thing I can tell you will be to hold your breath when they pull it out - it smarts but it helps with the pain.

They will give you a spirometer in the hospital. A plastic tube that looks like a bong that you blow into and try and hold the internal ball at certain levels for as long as you can. This helps to stretch your lungs back out and to ward off pneumonia and such.

They may put you on oxygen in the day and night, or just at night when you sleep. It will depend on what your oxygen saturation level is. This is the SpO2 level, which needs to be in the 90's before they take you off the oxygen.

You will be asked to walk alot - to stretch out your lungs, prevent pneumonia and to build up your stamina. They will also be taking a daily x-ray of your lung to measure improvement there.

You've been around the block a time or two, just like me. I used to be the only guy here with a pleural tumor, so nice to meet you and hope some of this info will give you a heads up on what to expect.

Deflating the lung scared me too, but I got over it and begged to be the 1st guy to do the robot. And the full open thoracotomy had me concerned too, but I already knew the score, so it was less so.

You'll get through this and see your 50th!

From a fellow traveler on the road...


BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

Thanks for chiming in and nice to meet you. When I did the plural biopsy it was probably the most painful thing I've every experienced. Holy crap that hurt! In my case my surgeon and the thoracic surgeon want to do the procedures one right after another.

Let me ask, how are you feeling now? How long was your hospital stay? How long did it take for you lung and chest to get to the point where you did not think about them?


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Well, overall I'm doing as well as I can, given everything I've gone through. I did this last lung surgery in July 2010. Due to the location of my tumor (right next to the spine) and embedded into my rib cage, they cut out 2 of my ribs that were suspect.

I was in the hospital for 13 days that time. Unfortunately, not long after I got it, they blasted me with 30 tx's of IMRT radiation (conformal radiation) and that really knocked the wind out of me. That was one year ago this Thanksgiving.

I have noticed more scar tissue change as the months have passed. I spasm in that area when I have to lay flat. It's probably gone up against a nerve as time has passed.

Of course, I swallowed 12 folfiri cocktails right behind that. So, last year was a real whip.

I think if it was just the surgery, I'd be in better shape. I've had 2 lung surgeries. But, the radiation changed the game and I'm doing good, but not as good as I could. I'm short of breath and I get tired pretty easy. I need to get back to walking again; chemo stopped me and then I went back to work and need to exercise some more by walking.

This might help me more.

I still think lung and chest because I hurt everyday. I'm just short of breath as I've lost alot of lung function with the surgeries and the rads. And I ache and spasm at night, but then it quiets down.

So, it's never off my mind. But, you know, we just have got to "trade this for that" in order to keep us on our feet.

I saw where you have done alot of chemo. I clock in at 51x myself.

But, hey for a couple of "oldtimers" as Phil said, I'd say the good still outweights the bad.

I think you will do pretty good...don't let them radiate unless it's imperative - and you know what the criteria is for that.

Good talking to you, look forward to hearing more and the absolute best of luck to you. Phil was right, it's nice to talk to a veteran guy who has been around. It's good to see.


BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

Gents, thanks for the kind words, they're greatly appreciated. You two are inspirations, continue to blaze that trail!!! I'll let you know what I decide after I get all the details from my surgeons. Happy Thanksgiving...

Stay well,


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Nice to see more "Oldtimers" on here...
I've had 3 lung operations (wedge resections) and in comparrison to the liver/colon resection I had, it was on par. It's not easy like an RFA but it's not any worse from my experience. Have you asked about them using what's called the "Muscle Sparing Technique" for your surgery? As it sounds, it involves them not cutting through as much muscle in order to get to the lung.

I'm a bit puzzled by the back and forth of being NED, having cancer, being cured, cancer, being NED, being incurable, etc but if you're comfprtable with your "team" then that's what's important. I wouldn't get too freaked about the lung operation if you can help it. I've been in the game since Feb 04 and worked through just about all of it. Hats off to you...

Looking forward to a post from you about your 50th Birthday Bash!

BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

Greetings all,
I was scheduled to have surgery last December on my abdomen and the plural of my right lung, however, my doctor(s) decided I needed some radiation before the surgery. I did this in Feb/March of this year with great results. Middle March I had PT scan and the node shrunk in half and the small tumor in my plural did not light up at all, doc now think it's scar tissue because it's been the same size for the last 3 years:) Fast forward to April 13th, 2012, my surgeon successfully removed the node in my abdomen. I was just released from the hospital yesterday and I'm writing this note from the comfort of my home office. My tummy is sore however, I couldn't be happier. This 6+ year cancer veteran, who's been through plenty of battles, is alive and well, and cancer free:)

BTW, had a great 50th birthday in January with friends and family.


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