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I got my results back from my tomography/CT scan and consulted with my oncologist today. I have a consultation with the radiation therapy doctors in a couple days. Radiation treatment will probably start next week.

I finally came out of the closet to my friends:

Sorry for the form letter but it would really be too draining to compose a separate message to y’all.

I’ve been waiting until I had something concrete to report before I told everyone most of what I know about the state of my health and the prospects for the future.

Most of you know I was in the hospital for a month due to life-threatening peritonitis. The peritonitis was caused by a 5 cm tumor blocking my lower intestine. My intestine had already perforated/torn and a small section of it had already died. Also, feces were backing up into my stomach which was comically distended. (I conducted a 3-hour art tour in this condition the Friday before entering the hospital, if you can believe it.)

The operation that saved my life left half the tumor inside me and left the outside of my abdomen with two colostomies and 6 drainage tubes. Pretty! The second surgery to remove the rest of the tumor plus the lower colostomy and to reconnect the lower intestine went well until I went into septic shock and they almost lost me. (The intention was to reconnect my intestines to my anus but they were not able to do this and still haven’t.)

The doctors induced coma, stitched me up and put me into intensive care. At that point I had a 50/50 chance of recovering. I did cause here I am.

The results of the biopsy indicated that the tumor was cancerous, had pushed through the intestinal wall and had spread to one of my lymph nodes. Only one out of 8. That is actually good news.

Today I received the results of my tomography or CT scan. There is no trace of cancer anywhere else in my body. Maybe it’s there but they can’t find it or see it at this point. Obviously, that’s very good news.

The extensive blood tests (26 separate tests!) indicate there is a higher level of carcinogens than is normal for someone my age and level of smoking. (Although I quit two months before my hospital stay, before that I was at least pack-a-day guy and now I smoke one or two cigs at parties, which means twice a month.) They said they would watch the levels but that there was nothing to worry about.

So, that’s also good news.

The whole package, considering what I went through, gives me a certain guarded optimism.

My form of lymphatic cancer boasts a 50-70% 5-year survival rate. Pretty good odds.

Next week, I will start a six month program of radiation and chemotherapy and I’m sure there will be issues, problems and side effects. Also, I still have the colostomy, which is a giant pain and the worst part of this whole mess. Depending on what happens, this may be reversible; we’ll have to wait and see.

However, after fighting awful depression for the last several weeks, not knowing much of anything, I’m happy to report that I might actually live through this. I’m a little bit hopeful.

I thought you might like to know. If you’d like to chat on Skype or actually speak to me, my nick is juanelear.

Besos.

Rick.

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