Sep 23, 2017 Latest post:
Nov 21, 2019
Welcome to Mike Gasman's CaringBridge page. We will start using CaringBridge to keep family and friends updated in one place. We have sent out a few Emails over the last month regarding Mike's cancer diagnosis and treatment. My mother wanted to know if we should start a group text or a GroupMe - heavens NO! We are familiar with CaringBridge from when our son Thomas was being treated for Neuroblastoma in 2005-2006. CaringBridge has evolved somewhat since then and remains a turnkey way to keep our supporters updated without too much 'noise'. We appreciate your support. Thank you for visiting. This story starts when I was unable to donate blood for the first time in 50 plus donations because I was anemic. When a blood test confirmed my low hemoglobin, I suspected I might have an ulcer. In retrospect, I had been experiencing unusual bouts of fatigue. My primary care doc recommended a colonoscopy. On July 18th, 2017 I had a colonoscopy and a 2 inch mass was found in my cecum, near the appendix opening. Pathology was adenocarcinoma. (When I was 50 yrs old - 5 years ago - I had a routine screening colonoscopy that was normal.) I had a CT scan on that Friday which showed local lymph node involvement and six walnut to grape-sized masses in my liver. One of the liver masses was biopsied the next week and confirmed that there was spread of the colon cancer. Because of the liver spread, the plan changed from having my right colon removed as soon as possible to having 4 rounds of chemotherapy over 2 months and then, if all goes well, having the liver spots removed along with the right colon. More chemo would follow surgery. We were guided through this process by our friend Dr Doug Matthews, a colorectal surgeon in Chico. He arranged to have us meet with Dr Sam Mazj, oncologist at Feather River Cancer Center in Paradise. Dr Mazj quickly showed us his resourcefulness by arranging surgical and oncology consultation the next Monday at Stanford where he trained. We met with Dr George Poultsides who is Stanford's liver and pancreas cancer surgeon. There are not too many of these types of surgeons! He described the recommended process of using chemotherapy to control unseen disease but leave the known liver lesions for him to capture. Stanford did an abdominal MRI that day with contrast to look for additional lesions - it did not show any difference from the earlier CT. Over the next two days Theresa and I attended chemotherapy education, Dr Matthews placed an infusion port for chemotherapy and I had my first Chemo treatment on Wednesday August 2nd -- a short, but intense two weeks after the cancer initially was discovered. The chemo goes like this: After nausea and steroid prep meds I am given 2 hour infusions of oxaliplatin and leucovorin followed by a 2 day infusion of 5-fluorouracil using a portable pump I take home. They trust me to disconnect the pump and flush saline and heparin through my Port-a-cath at home before pulling the needle out - a fun treat. This chemotherapeutic combination goes by the catchy moniker FOLFOX. I have now had four chemotherapy sessions spaced 2 weeks apart. I have learned to: not touch cold things, use skin moisturizer, take nausea meds whether I think I need them or not and to fight fatigue by exercising even on the tough days (imagine that!). Days number 2-6 are the most tiring and I have a reasonable appetite even though food and water tastes less than delicious because of the platinum causing metallic tastes. I decided that any beer would ruin my taste for that elixir and will give my liver a rest for a while as well. I am able to work about three days a week, not much different than my schedule before all this. We will return to Stanford on Monday Sept 25th for a repeat CT and we will meet with Dr. Poultsides and see if a plan for surgery is a go - possibly later that week. We will certainly be updating you after that appointment.
I and my family have been blessed with many supporters who are praying, sending strong positive messages our way and even delivering delicious meals. We appreciate this support so much. It has made it easier to move forward with hope and strength. Thank you for being by my side on this journey.