Paul Couture

First post: Feb 16, 2019 Latest post: Mar 20, 2019

Summer time 2018. Care free. Cold lemonade. Bike rides, daughter's triathalons, hard work doing lawn care. I am enjoying that I can work hard even in the heat and take care of my wife and myself. It is rewarding to cut and trim lawns and shrubs and have them look really good. I have said in my lawn care and outdoor property maintenance I bring harmony out of chaos.
July 2018. I begin to have bright red blood in my stool a couple of times a week. I chalk it up to hemmoroids and keep pushing on through summer. More work and travel and fun and the whirlwind of July becomes August.
The blood in my stool instead of going away now is sometimes 3 times instead of twice a week.
Also I am now waking up 2 and 3 times a night to urinate and numerous more times daily.
Midway through August my hopes are gone that the blood in the stool and urinary difficulties are going to away and leave me happily ever after.
Even though I am dreading going to the doctor I make the appointment. The doctor recommends the "dreaded" colonoscopy. Also to go see a urologist for potential prostate issues. 

My personality and personal history have been one of striving for control in all areas of my life. If I can just be in control the stress will be gone and I will find peace in my life.  Now I am going in directions that achieving control is feeling very unachieveable. Fear of the unknown adds stress. 
Prostate visit  results: November 9th 2018. Your prostate is enlarged no physical signs of cancer. Choices: take drugs to reduce prostate size to gain more normal urination. Takes about 6 mos to achieve.  Have an expensive blood test or biopsy to determine if I have cancer. 
 While I am trying to decide my prostate course of action , November 14th 2018 arrives . Colonoscopy results. YOU HAVE CANCER. GI doctor says I am referring you to a surgeon. I don't even know how to respond to this news. I do remember feeling like I have been given a death sentence. 

The surgeon at my  Nov 19th consult said it looked like 5-6 weeks chemo then four weeks off then surgery then 4-5 weeks chemo then off with your life. He then said I would need a specialized MRI to make sure this was a plan we could stick to. One of the last things the surgeon said at the consult was be prepared this may take a year out of your life to get through between treatments and surgeries. I am sure I heard that but in no way wanted to acknowledge it. I did not have a year out of my life for this. 

While I have been trying to understand my colon and prostate issues there are also lower back and right knee pain issues I am trying to resolve.  I am very hopeful that stem cell therapy  using my own stem cells will make me pain free in those areas. When the stem cell therapy doctor learned of my cancer diagnosis it was a flat no stem cell therapy until you have been cancer free for a year. Remember my income is from lawn care and outdoor property maintenance. How can I work pain free without this therapy. More loss of what I want to control. 

I now have to wait until Dec 20th for a specialized MRI so a treatment plan can be put in place. The MRI is completed in the morning of December 20th. About two hours later I remember the surgeon calling me as I was driving up Hwy 54 to Mexico Mo. with my wife Jean.  I was completely unprepared for what he said.   After reviewing the MRI results the treatment plan was changing. His recommendation after consulting with oncology and oncology radiation was 4 months of chemo every other week, then 4 weeks off, then 5 weeks pill chemo and radiation 5 days a week, then 4 weeks off then surgery.  Then 6 weeks to recover from surgery with hopefully a temporary bag, then surgery to reconnect my colon, and another 4 weeks to recover from that surgery. I was stunned . The treatment plan had just gone from about 2 and a half months to about 9 months. I asked was he sure this length of treatment was needed to get to surgery? The surgeon said he believed this would give me the best shot at being cancer free. Not guaranteed to be cancer free but my best shot. He then reminded me what he had finished our consult with. This journey through cancer may take up to a year out of your life. He would schedule a consult with oncology and oncology radiation at Ellis Fischell Cancer Center.  I hung up the phone and told my wife what the surgeon had told me. It was hard to see the road through the tears streaming from my eyes. My wife was crying as well. This 9 month or more process was coming at the worst time of the year for me. At least 7 months of it were going to be during the time of the year when I make money. Remember I earn my living doing lawn  and outdoor property maintenance.   I have no idea how we will survive financially for 7 or more months with little or no income as I am the sole income earner for my wife and I. As we continue to drive wiping away our tears my wife says, "We have no idea how God will do it but he will take care of us. He always has in the past. We just have to trust Him." There are times in our marriage when she is a rock and I am a grain of sand on the beach. This was one of those times. And sometimes it is the other way around. God was so good in using my wife to direct my attention back to Him instead of my circumstances.  After the MRI confirming the tumor location and size it is now wait till Jan 9th to consult with an oncologist and radiation oncologist. 

While the waiting is going on I have begun to do my own research on the stage 3c rectal cancer I have. Also a friend has gone through bladder cancer recently so I begin to ask questions. I am terrified of chemo and radiation. Yes I did say I was terrified of them. Some of my research provided what I believe is credible evidence that diet can have an effect on cancer treatment outcomes. I moved to as best I could a plant based diet just before Christmas. I also investigated alternative treatment therapies hoping to avoid chemo and radiation. There is now so much information coming at me it is hard to keep things straight. It is also becoming lonely on this journey. Some are trying to encourage me saying  you and God have got this. And they quickly move on. Some seem to feel it is their duty to tell me to avoid chemo and radiation because it will kill you. Instead go all natural with broccoli, coffee enemas and kombachu. Others urge me to stay away from that wacked out alternative stuff. Who knows if any of it works. After all I did chemo and radiation and I made it. Indeed they don't have a third eye or glow in the dark. And there are those who quietly listen and then have pitched in and met my needs as they have arisen. I have really been blessed by folks who share because they really do care, and then step back to take the pressure off me and let me make my own choices. I am sure they may not always agree with my choices but they love me anyway and give me grace to make my own choices and be who I am.  With all my fears, confusion and struggles. One huge lesson from this journey I know God wants me to learn and practice is to be way more like this last group of people. I will admit I am a long way from acting like that toward others. 

When I first got my cancer diagnosis there were two things I asked people to pray for. 1) That God would be glorified in my journey, 2) That I would make wise decisions. I am now realizing this wise decision stuff is pretty tough. Early on I told a friend who had just gone through surgery for prostate what my situation and prayer requests were. He looked at me and asked if I knew the song, "Even If'" by Mercy Me. He said , "That song got me through." Another friend said that the song "Though you Slay Me," by Shane and Shane had helped Him through some really dark and tough times in his life. 

I have listened to those songs many many times. I am becoming more aligned with what those songs say. Please take time to listen to them.  It may help explain why "God cure me of cancer" is not a request I have made of Him. I honestly don't know if He will receive more glory by curing me of cancer or more glory by using cancer to take me home to be with Him. Since I don't know I am going to leave that choice up to Him. 

 My story is not finished but I will come back to it. 

I am back . I apologize for the long delays working on my story. Sometimes it is hard to work on. Other times there is so much coming at me I can't find the keyboard. I am sorry but this is who I am.

January 9th, 2019. I meet with Radiation Oncology to learn where I am headed and ask questions. Lots of questions.  The radiation oncologist is very personable and takes time to answer my questions. I am not sure how all this is going to work out. Then off to my initial blood draw. From there onto Oncology. The oncologist is not so personal. He does answer my questions. I ask him if there would be a problem if I considered some alternative therapies such as vitamins. He said I don't care what you do. Part of the chemo is high dose folic acid. Just don't add any more folic acid as it will increase your side effects. Then he brings out the sign for consent of treatment form. I tell him I am not ready to sign the form and want to think about it. He says the choice is min