In the beginning of February Doug began experiencing some stomach and gastrointestinal issues. A visit to his primary physician concluded that it was some simple hemorrhoids. After two weeks with no improvement in his symptoms, Doug decided to see a gastroenterologist or GI (a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system). Initially, the GI physician also thought Doug was experiencing hemorrhoids and put him on a special diet. Shortly after starting the GI's recommendations, Doug began passing a large amount of blood rectally. This prompted a visit to the emergency room where it was recommended that Doug have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine, rectum and colon. One week after the initial emergency room visit Doug underwent the colonoscopy that revealed a cancerous tumor on his rectum. The colonoscopy test results then urged further testing including an MRI and CT scan to see if there were any other cancerous spots in Doug's body.
Doug's oncologist, Dr. Uzma Ali confirmed that the MRI and CTscans showed that Doug's cancer was a Stage IV Rectal Cancer, was spread through his rectal wall, and had metastasized to spots on the lower part of his liver. Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body.
It was decided to get a second opinion about Doug's cancer, and through a great friend, Sara Christofferson, we were able to get an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The Mayo oncologist, Dr. Axel Grothey reiterated a treatment plan exactly the same as Dr. Ali's (Doug's city oncologist) treatment plan. Dr. Grothey just so happened to be a mentor to Dr. Ali and assured us that we are in excellent hands and to proceed forward with treatment in the cities. This was excellent news to hear, that we would be able to stay near family and friends as we venture along this path life has sent us on.
As of now, Dr. Ali's treatment plan for Doug is to have him start chemo right away. The name of the chemo Doug will be started on is Folfirinox.This specific type of chemo if made up of the drugs Fluorouacil, Leucovorin, Irinotecan and Oxaliplatin. Doug will undergo 8 cycles of this chemo; one cycle is 14 days. A cycle will include day one, 5-6 hours of chemo in the clinic. Day two and three Doug will wear a chemo pump. Day four he will receive a Neulastashot which will help his body make white blood cells. Then he will have 10 days off. Doug has a flashy new piece of jewelry called a “port” in his chest. This is the site where they can infuse his chemo medications and draw blood. It also cuts down on the number of “pokes” he has to endure as he goes through this process.
Dr. Grothey told us that he has patients with similar cancers who are still around 20+ years later. We are very optimistic about Doug’s outcome due to his youth and otherwise good health.
We appreciate all prayers and support as we travel along this journey. We believe God has this all under control and will work miracles in Doug.