Due to some changes in insurance, I was forced to get a new primary care physician (PCP) in 2016, so I started looking. Because my wife, Tina, is an RN with her BSN and she is in graduate school for nursing and education, I decided to go with a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP). Ultimately, that is Tina’s goal, and because of that it made sense for me to use a CNP as my PCP.
In July of 2016 I had my first appointment with my new CNP, Joshua Whitmer, and he naturally ordered a full blood panel. After a few weeks of putting it off, I finally got it done, and it showed a few questionable results. My hemoglobin was a little low and I had a slight iron deficiency. After a brief discussion about my family history, and the fact that my maternal grandmother passed away from colon cancer, my PCP referred me to a doctor for a colonoscopy.
However, Tina and I had a seven night Caribbean cruise scheduled for our 24th anniversary from September 25th through October 2nd, so I put the colonoscopy off until after our trip. In hindsight, it was the best idea that we could have had, because the news that I got from the colonoscopy would have destroyed our trip. Instead we had a great time and were able to enjoy our anniversary without anything heavy on our minds.
On October 11th, 2016, I went in for the colonoscopy and also an endoscopy. The endoscopy was normal but during the colonoscopy a 5 CM mass was found in my lower colon. A biopsy was taken and three days later, on October 14th, I received a call from the doctor to confirm that the mass was cancerous. I was then referred to get a CT scan, to look for other potential masses in my body, and a surgeon to remove the tumor in my colon. This was a huge fear realized for my family and me, something that caught us way off guard.
On Monday, October 17th, 2016, I went for a CT scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvic areas. Tuesday, October 18th, 2016, I met with the surgeon, Dr. Bosio, about the surgery. He also went over the results of the CT scans with me, and showed us that masses were found on my liver and in both of my lungs. Dr. Bosio said that, due to the size of the tumor and the possibility of my colon becoming obstructed, he wanted to do surgery as soon as possible. Dr. Bosio referred me to an oncologist that he had worked with a great deal in the past, and who was a personal friend, Dr. Phinney. He also sent me for a PET scan, which I had on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016.
On Thursday, October 20th, 2016, I received a call from Dr. Bosio’s office to let me know that they scheduled me for surgery on Friday, October 21st, 2016, to remove the tumor from my colon. Later that same Thursday afternoon, I met with the Dr. Phinney and he went over the PET scan results. Unfortunately the CT scan results were confirmed and the lesions on my liver and a couple of the lesions in my lungs lit up like a Christmas tree, indicative of being cancer. IT was at this point that I was given my diagnosis: stage four colon cancer with metastases to the liver and lungs.
Friday, October 21st, 2016, I had the surgery to remove the tumor from my colon, which was successful. During the surgery, Dr. Bosio found a hernia, which he also repaired. I was in the hospital for six days recovering, and then I was released to go home, where I slowly got to feeling better over the next few days.
On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016, I went to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH, for a second opinion and to see if I was a fit for any of their clinical trials. Sadly, the diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Penney, and they did not have any clinical trials that would benefit me.
On Thursday, November 10th, 2016, I went back to see Dr. Phinney at the Toledo Clinic Cancer Center, and we decided to start chemo therapy. FOLFOX is what we determined was the best first level option, and I started chemo on Monday, November 21st, 2016. I will be getting FOLFOX every two weeks for the at least six cycles, after which I will be sent back for another PET scan to see if the tumors have shrunk any. Until then, my family and I are fighting with everything that I have to beat this cancer.