The Beginning of Michael's Journey (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaeldoise/journal/view/id/582f3b7aab28b90b541bd2d6
)Journal entry by Roxann McDaniel
God is our strength and at those times when we can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other, He lifts us up and carries us down the path. Our faith is unshakeable & we know he has a plan that has already been put into motion. He knows the beginning & the end & we are relying on our Heavenly Father to get us both through this difficult time like he’s done so many times before. So with that said, we welcome you to Michael’s CaringBridge site, created to keep those who care most to know the latest information as we’re finding it difficult to personally return every call,text, email and Instant Message. This is a blessing in itself, that as word has gotten around, there are so many who truly care & want to be kept up-to-date and help.
We want to begin by thanking all of you for your prayers & concern as Michael begins this journey into what is still somewhat of an unknown. It seems to help having a name for this monster that has changed our lives & at this point, Michael has CUP, which stands for “Cancer of Unknown Primary”.
The other goal for this site is to keep Michael’s journey uplifting, positive & hopeful as we know the mind plays a major role in a person’s health & well-being. With your comments of love & hope, coupled with our faith in God & the god-given abilities of the doctors, Michael & I both will get through this. We hope despite what the future holds, you yourself will find this journal uplifting.
WHAT GOT US TO TODAY: Monday, October 3, 2016, Michael was having pain radiating from his back to his left side. Having been treated a number of times for Diverticulitis, he opted to leave work & go straight to the ER at St. Luke’s here in The Woodlands, hoping they would run tests to find the source instead of back to his primary care physician who would probably just put him on another regimen of antibiotics. After all, this pain was a little different. Several tests were run and to make a long story short, was told a CT scan showed a new 3.3 cm (about the size of a 50-cent piece) lytic lesion in the left ilium (pelvis) suspicious for neoplasm(cancer) & he was released. They told him to make an appointment with his primary care physician for further care. Instead we drove right over, to the doctor's office which was the beginning of a week-long agenda of appointments with various doctors including a local oncologist.
The local oncologist was just full of opinions of doom & gloom & began scheduling tests in his clinic. Knowing people come from all over the world to be treated at 1 of the top cancer centers in the country, Michael decided he needed to do whatever it took to get into MD Anderson. After all, if it did turn out to be cancer, he did not want to go to a cancer center using MD Anderson protocol. He instead wanted to be seen by the authors of the protocol, MD Anderson in Houston’s Medical Center downtown (MDA). We did not know a person can get in on their own with out a doctor’s referral, so Friday night, October 7th began our quest with the enormous help of his cousin Frank, a patient at MDA & my niece Tara, a Patient Coordinator at MDA. Feeling hopeful he would get in I even went ahead and set up his My.MDA.org portal. This is where patients receive messages from the clinic as well as appointments & test results plus so many other helpful tools. By Sunday, Michael had received a patient number and on Monday he got the call & within a few days, a whole list of appointments were set up at MD Anderson beginning Wednesday, October 26th. MDA is made up of many clinics, all specializing in specific cancers and Michael was assigned to Dr. Lewis at the Orthopedic Clinic.
FAST FORWARD: Over the past few weeks, Michael’s been prodded & poked, had blood & specimen tests, a 24-hour kidney work-up, an MRI of the pelvic area, a CT scan of the chest, abdomen & pelvis, a full-body bone scan & on Friday, November 11th, a bone biopsy of the ilium lesion. The diagnosis was Metastatic Carcinoma. From what I understand this is a fancy term for cancer that has metastasized from another, primary source of cancer. Unfortunately however, the primary source of cancer was not found in any of the tests.
THE “UNKNOWN CLINIC”: Michael has now been referred to MDA’s “Unknown Clinic” which is where they specialize in finding primary cancers that have not been located. We were able to get fast-tracked for an appointment for yesterday, Thursday, November 17th where we spent over 2 hours consulting with 2 doctors. Dr. Raghav is the oncologist who spends all of his time in searching for what the tests have yet to find. The importance of this is that each cancer reacts to specific therapies & if the primary cancer is not found, they use a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs in the hope that something sticks. If they do find the primary, they can use the specific therapies proven best to work on it. Only 4-5% of primary cancers are never found, so guess you can say that Michael’s is a pretty rare case.
We were really given a hard blow yesterday & we left the hospital feeling pretty defeated but Dr. Raghav assured us they will be doing everything in their power to find the primary cancer (the "mothership" as I call it) & treat it. Stage 4 was confirmed but we’ve been told that doesn’t necessarily describe the strength of the cancer but the fact that it has metastasized to other locations. Dr. Raghav told us Michael actually has 3 areas…the ilium, a rib & a vertebra. Monday, November 21st we have an appointment with another doctor to talk about radiation treatments for when the need is determined, more blood work & a Pet scan which will look for cancer cells all of the body, from head to toe. Another consultation with Dr. Raghav is set for November 29th & then an ultrasound & biopsy of a lymph gland in his neck that Michael's been concerned about for several months is scheduled for November 30th. Since the lymph gland is scheduled for after our consultation, the appointment with Dr. Raghav may change because at that appointment, we are suppose to talk about Michael's treatment options.
That’s all we know at this point. We’ve gone the gambit of searching Google & feel confident the right choices are being made. We’ve read many testimonials where people have beat the odds & we relish hearing those stories. Many try to 2nd guess but we appreciate our friends & family just standing behind us. All we ask is that you pray that the primary cancer is found with these new tests so that the doctors will know the right medicines to use, pray for total healing for Michael, and pray that our fears & anxieties will be kept at bay. That in itself is a daily struggle as we don’t know why this has happened, whether his many years as a welder played a part, or if being a Veteran of the Vietnam War where many of his brothers have suffered the effects of Agent Orange. What we DO know is that God put us together in our older age for a reason. I needed him & he needed me. And both being faithful children of God, we’ll walk this path together.