This is hopefully my last “Caring Bridge” post as I am now pretty much in a routine “watch” mode. In the past few weeks, I have had full blood work, a comprehensive suite of stool tests, a colonoscopy (with some biopsies) and an abdominal CT scan. All results are either “normal” or “unremarkable”. CT scans will henceforth be on a 6-month cycle with consultations with my oncologist staying at 3 months before dropping to 6 months and then annually. Appetite, taste and weight are doing well though I am still coming to terms with a somewhat unpredictable and occasionally stressful GI system. Muscle mass and cardio functions are gradually coming back but very slowly. It will probably take at least a couple of years and even then, getting back to where I was from a fitness perspective, is probably unrealistic. And I am totally A-OK with that. I have redefined the playing field and am comfortable with where I am in our “new world”.
I have never chosen to talk “statistics” with my medical tam. There are very few reliable studies on cancer of the Ampulla of Vater. The mortality figures for full-blown pancreatic cancer are indeed grim but I had a different type of cancer, a small and localized tumor, successful resection, clean margins & lymph nodes, aggressive postoperative chemo & radiation and a recovery that certainly seems to have impressed the doctors. There is always the possibility that some of those aggressive, malignant cells have already taken a road trip to other parts of my body but for that, we shall just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I plan on being at the distant tail-end of the mortality curve.
As always, the patience, compassion and concern of all the nurses and doctors, family and friends has been truly humbling. Wherever your own family and friends are on your priority lists; make sure they are at the top.