Near Death’s Door

medstaffmainAs my cancer treatment journey continues, I would continue to receive treatment with Interleukin-2 every 3 weeks, that would include 4 days of infusion at the cancer center.  However, in April I began to have trouble breathing.  I could barely walk very far before feeling short of breath.  I had to make an early trip out to Phoenix.  My oncologist ordered a CT scan when I arrived at CTCA.  They discovered that the tumor mass in my right lung had begun to invade the main right bronchial tube.  It was determined that I would need another bronchoscopy procedure to place a stent in the bronchial tube to keep my airway open.  After this procedure I was able to breathe normally again. However, my cancer treatment journey would take a frightening turn at the end of June.

My wife and I traveled to Phoenix in late June for what we thought would be a routine week of treatment.  It was anything but routine. I was scheduled to have a CT scan at the start of my week to check on the progress of treatment.  The CT scan showed that the tumor mass in my right lung was continuing to grow and was very aggressive.  I met with my pulmonologist, Dr. Turner, and he informed me that he would have to perform another bronchoscopy procedure to open up my airways again.  The scan showed that the tumors had begun to crush the stent and had moved into my main airway.  The next day, Tuesday,  I went in for the bronchoscopy procedure.  I can recall falling asleep in the operating room.  The next thing I remember was the horrible feeling of something being removed from my throat.  It felt very uncomfortable and I wanted it to stop.  I looked at my wife and said, “Help!” I could barely even hear myself say that word.  My voice seemed to be almost gone.  My wife told me to just hang in there for a little while so they could pull out the incubation tube from my throat.  This incident happened on Thursday.  I had lost 2 days.

I was told that I had been in ICU for the past 2 days.  The original procedure did not go well.  My right lung had collapsed during the procedure and there was a lot of bleeding.  I was put on a ventilator and was kept sedated.  Dr. Turner also had to perform 2 additional procedures to remove the crushed stent and to clear away what he could of the tumor mass.  The staff had told my wife that I may not survive.  The staff at CTCA supported my wife with a lot of hugs and prayers while she waited for me to finally wake up.  Finally, I did wake up as they removed the incubation tube from my throat.  My wife explained to me all that had happened as she wiped away her tears.  By the grace of the Lord I was still alive and breathing. I would have to remain in Arizona for 3 weeks to recover from all of the procedures.  My oncology team would now have to come up with a new treatment method to battle the cancer.

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