I have cancer

On November 30 I entered Rivadavia public hospital in Buenos Aires with severe peretonitis caused by a 5 cm tumor blocking my lower intestine.

Emergency surgery removed half the tumor and repaired the perforation of my colon. (Well, actually, they cut off the dead part of my colon and stitched up the two loose ends.) Doctors installed a colostomy appliance which I still have.

The photo below is of me before the second surgery. I still have most of my weight on. I lost 10 kilograms during recovery from the second surgery. The doctors said it would have been much harder to recover without that extra weight. So don’t let anyone dissuade you from keeping that little beer belly.

Photo missing.

A few weeks later I underwent a second surgery to remove the remaining portion of the tumor. During that surgery my body went into septic shock and coma was induced. The tumor was removed but I remained in a coma and in intensive care for several days.

A biopsy was performed on the tumor and last week I finally got the results.

I knew that it would be a carcinoma but we did not know if it had spread or metastasized. I found out that I have a secondary cancer in one regional lymph node which will require radiation therapy. I am waiting in line to get a tomography and blood tests to determine if the cancer has spread anywhere else.

My oncologist has meanwhile proposed a classic 6-month Mayo-Clinic style treatment regimen: 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy followed by 6 cycles of chemotherapy.

I have a job here in Buenos Aires (I’m the editor and designer of an English-language arts blog called Juanele AR.) and primary health care is otherwise free.

However, I only make around $750 USD. Taking care of the colostomy is not cheap and not free. One colostomy bag costs $4.50 and I’m still fighting infection in wounds leftover from the second surgery.

I am going in the hole trying just to feed myself and take care of my health. (The inflation rate in Argentina is one of the worst in the world and food is as expensive or more expensive than in the States.)

I do not know what sort of incidental medical expenses will arise because of the cancer treatment. I don’t anticipate that I will need a lot of supplemental income — maybe a couple hundred extra dollars a month — but I have no one to ask for that kind of money. Certainly not here.

Further and more importantly, as I suffer side effects from the radiation, it will affect my ability to do my job in full. My boss tells me my job is secure but nothing is certain in this world.

Any amount anyone can give will be appreciated.

I’m a longtime blogger and plan on blogging my experiences with cancer as far as I can go. Perhaps that will be a way to pay everyone back.

Muchas gracias.

The photo below shows me on the terrace outside my ward. I was just getting around to walking again on my own after the second surgery.

Photographs by Carla Harms, who took good care of me while I was recovering in the hospital, along with my angel Claire Jon Sadeghzadeh, my colleague and confidante Gabby Schevach, my colleague and buddy Ariel Authier, my lovely friends Ceci Dupont, Sas Vassie and Juan Pablo Lescano.

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