Posts Tagged With: Cancer

Cancer Journey: Home Again.

homemovieAs some of you may or may not be aware, I have been battling stage 4 kidney cancer since 2013. Let me rephrase that. My wife Tanisha and I have been battling this cancer since 2013. This cancer has invaded my body, but my wife is battling it just as hard as I am. I couldn’t make it on this journey with Jesus Christ and Tanisha by my side.

Since last December, I have been receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ. I have received excellent care from my oncology team. However, the distance to the clinic has always been a struggle. So, I have had to say “goodbye” to Mayo Clinic and go “home” again.

Where is home you may ask? Well in for my cancer care it’s a place in Goodyear, AZ called Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).  Why do I call it “home”? Well, I began my treatment for stage 4 cancer at CTCA in 2014. I spent two and half years surrounded by a staff of stakeholders, clinicians, and doctors that genuinely cared about my treatment and well-being. These wonderful folks have been with my wife and I when the cancer closed in and nearly took my life in the early months of treatment. Then they rejoiced with my wife and I when the tumors began to shrink and some of the severe effects began to loosen their grip. This team of people make a hospital for cancer patients feel more like a home than a hospital. They are like family.

Do you remember the TV series “Cheers”? Each time the character of Norm would walk into the bar, his friends erupted and said, “Norm!”. They knew him and were excited to see him enter this fictional bar. Each time I walk through the sliding doors of CTCA I can hear someone on staff say, “John!”. What a great feeling!

It is for this reason, that I am so glad I have made it back home. I was able to meet with my new oncologist this week. I was very glad to hear the treatment plan he has in mind moving forward in this fight against cancer. Once again, I can walk the main corridor of the center and meet fellow patients as we encourage each other in this journey and fight.

 

Advertisements
Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Journey Update Feb 2017

Well it has been too long since my last update. A lot has changed since then so I will bring mc-boeing-ctr-for-excellence-8colyou up to date. I had been receiving treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer at Cancer Treatments Centers of America in Phoenix (CTCA). As of December of 2016 my wife and I decided to change treatment centers to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. We had been thinking of changing care facilities for several months prior to making the change.

CTCA was a great place for cancer care for my first two years of treatment. However, this last year we noticed that the changes management was instituting were not positive to my overall care.

My new oncologist is an expert in the area of kindey cancer and runs the clinical trials at Mayo Clinic Phoenix. He ordered a battery of new scans and blood tests to get a baseline to start my treatment. I had never had a CT scan using contrast before. I finally received a CT scan with the contrast and it proved most valuable in determining what was going on in my body. It showed that the cancer was more widespread than previously thought. It has now invaded my lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and left kidney.

I have been given a new targeted therapy drug to attempt to combat the cancer. It is called, Cabometyx.  It was approved by the FDA recently and has had good success in clinical trials. This drug is now my 5th line of treatment. My oncologist has told my wife and I that if this doesn’t slow down or shrink the tumors my survival will be spoken of in terms of months.  However, we are trusting in Christ our Lord for complete healing of this disease. I thank all of you for your continued prayers and support.

I recently had an MRI on my brain. I had been experiencing headaches and they wanted to make sure the tumors hadn’t spread to the brain. Praise the Lord!  There was no evidence of tumors in the brain. The LORD is definitely at work here.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Cancer Update March 2017

photofrinI just had a CT scan a few weeks ago to check on the state of things in my lungs. The scan had some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the pneumonia I was dealing with has finally cleared up.  The bad news is that the tumors in both lungs are growing not shrinking after 2 months of treatment using Opdivo. Again, I am being treated for stage 4 kidney cancer that has metastasized to both lungs at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix.

My pulmunoligist has recently begun treating one of my symptoms with something called Photo Dynamic Therapy. The drug used is called Photofrin. So, the upper part of my right lung in not only partially collapsed, but it is also blocked by the tumors. This new treatment is designed to open that part of the airway up by burning away the tumors using the drug Photofrin. 

I had the drug injected into my body on Monday.  On Wednesday I had a bronchoscopy procedure where a cool laser was placed into my airway and turned on to activate the drug internally. Basically, the tumors are now light sensitive and by using the laser it will destroy the tumors by burning them and flooding them with oxygen.  Oxygen is a natural enemy to cancer cells. I will have up to four more procedures in the next week or so to clean up the dead tissue from the soon to be dead cancer cells.

While this will help to improve my breathing and overall quality of life, it is limited to only clearing up this one particular symptom. The remaining cancer cells in my lungs will have to be dealt with in other ways by my oncologist. I am hopeful that I will be cancer free soon.

 

Categories: Cancer, Health | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Cancer Update October

Well last week I had yet another CT scan to check on the status of the tumors in both lungs. The scan showed that the No-Cancertumors are stable. My oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America is going to continue my treatment using the oral medication Votrient. He has a couple of other treatment options ready to go in the event the Votrient ceases to be effective. Votrient is a targeted therapy rather than a form of chemotherapy. This means my healthy cells won’t be damaged by the treatment.

I have been learning quite a lot from a 9 part internet documentary series from www.thetruthaboutcancer.com. ICancer does not mean a death sentence any longer.  It can be cured. In the last week I have been making the transition to a more plant based eating plan. I am using my Nutribullet quite a lot these days.

Since I am being treated for stage 4 kidney cancer that has spread to my lungs I also found out that my one remaining kidney has begun to lose quite a bit of its filtering ability. I met with my kidney doctor and he has made some changes to my blood pressure medications. He told me that he is making these changes to “buy me time”.  I am not accepting this statement and I am believing the Lord Jesus to restore my kidney as I make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes.  Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Second Opinion

A cancer diagnosis no matter what stage is an alarming news to hear.  After hearing the news all kinds of questions begin tophoto2 swirl around in a person’s mind.  What are my options? Where will I get treatment? What is the prognosis?  In my experience dealing with stage 4 kidney cancer that spread to both lungs I had to get these questions answered.  The one big question that I had to get answered was where can I get a second opinion. A friend of mine had told me about a place that sounded great, but also expensive.  That place was Cancer Treatments Centers of America (CTCA).  Let me share with you my top reasons to seek a second opinion at CTCA.

The center will pay for your travel to CTCA for your second opinion.

Once you decide to check out CTCA for a second opinion and call to speak to representative things are set in motion including your travel to CTCA.  The travel department of the center books a flight for you and a caregiver to generally the closest regional medical center. Once you and your caregiver arrive at the airport you will be greeted by a limousine driver who will drive you to the center.  Upon arrival to the center you will be given a quick tour of the center.  Then you will be driven to the hotel that you have been booked into.

The center provides discounted lodging at local area hotels.

Another advantage to seeking out a second opinion at CTCA is that they provide discounted lodging a local area hotels.  The lodging isn’t the Motel 6 no frills style.  They are various Marriott properties, Homewood Suites, and Holiday Inn.  The rates are highly discounted for CTCA patients and caregivers. The average cost for the evaluation week is under $100 for the entire week.  After that, the average rate is around $40 per night.  Each of these hotels also provides free breakfast meals.

The center provides very low cost dining at their cafe.

CTCA has its’ own fully staffed cafe on site.  They use only certified organic products for its menu.  In fact, much of the produce used in the cafe is grown on site at their organic farm called the Hope Springs Farm.  For patients and caregivers this is a large discount on meals.  Two people can eat most meals for under $10.  They have both prepared hot meals as well as a grill for made to order breakfast meals and sandwiches.  There is a full soup and salad bar as wells as a  juice and smoothie bar.

The center provides with you an entire team to look over your options.

Unlike many other hospitals, CTCA provides and entire team of doctors and clinicians to treat cancer.  During the initial week of evaluation patients will meet with a medical oncologist that specializes in a particular type of cancer.  Patients will also be assigned a naturopathic doctor who will assist with possible side effects to treatment with different vitamins and supplements.  Patients also are assigned a nutritionist to help with dietary choices to boost the immune system and help with any negative taste changes due to treatment.  If radiation is needed as part of fighting the cancer a radiation oncologist will be assigned and will work with the primary oncologist.

The center provides and encourages patients to be in community with other patients through the program Cancer Fighters.

CTCA believes in treating the whole person battling cancer.  One of the ways that they help with this is to encourage patients to be in community with each other for support.  The primary avenue for CTCA to accomplish this is through the program called Cancer Fighters.  This group is comprised of many volunteers who themselves are cancer survivors.  This group facilitates weekly meals in the cafe for patients to get to know one another as well as providing various outings to local restaurants and sporting events.   According to their website, Cancer Fighters® was created for and by our patients, their families and friends to support one another to win the fight against cancer. It is a community of inspiration for people who have been touched by cancer.”

Treatment and services are all done under one roof.

Have you ever been frustrated having to travel from one location to another to see a specialist or to have a scan performed?  This doesn’t happen at CTCA.  All of the doctors, clinicians, surgery, treatment, scans, and lab work is done under one roof. For a patient of CTCA everything is under one roof.  Whether you have an appointment, need a massage, need a hot meal, or even a pedicure, everything is in the same building.

The center provides both psychological and spiritual support to patients.

Battling cancer is more than just a physical battle. It can take a toll on a person’s emotional and spiritual condition as well. Having a positive mental and spiritual outlook goes a long way in fighting this disease.  CTCA has a team of licensed psychiatrists who can help patients with the psychological components of battling cancer.  CTCA also provides a team of trained non denominational  chaplains to help with patients spiritual needs.  They provide weekly worship services, communion, and prayer support.

The center provides the latest technology and treatments to fight cancer.

CTCA uses the latest technology and treatment options available to treat cancer. They do not use a cookie cutter approach to cancer treatment. Each patient is unique and it takes an individualized approach to battle the cancer. They use the latest approved medications and chemotherapies to treat patients. Some examples of these treatments include diagnostic imaging using PET scans, MRI, and CT scans.  They also can perform genomic testing to find what is driving the tumor growth and treat it more specifically.  There are over 50 different methods used in cancer diagnostics at CTCA.

Today treating cancer has improved greatly with new technology and therapies.  It is no longer a death sentence to hear the news of having cancer.  When a new patient walks through the doors of Cancer Treatment Centers of America they won’t even feel that they’re in a hospital.  Patients are treated like family and greeted by staff with hugs and support.  If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, don’t fret.  Rather, make a simple phone call to CTCA for a valuable second opinion and the best care.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Update August

I had a CT scan today.  My oncologist Dr. Quan told me that the kidney cancer in my lungs is stable.  That means the cancer isn’t growing.  Thank You Jesus!
I will have another scan in 2 months.  I will also have an echocardiogram test next week to check blood flow.  Thanks for your prayers.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: | Leave a comment

Reflecting on Cancer Journey

Man-man-thinkingIt has been one year since I was in ICU after a bronchoscopy procedure at Cancer Treatment Centers of America that did not go as planned. I  had just had a CT scan that showed that the mass in my right lung had grown around a stent and crushed it.  My pulmunoligist said he needed to go in and removed the stent.  I thought it would be a routine procedure.  It was not.  The procedure was on a Tuesday, and I woke up on Thursday. I had been on a ventilator for a couple of days since I was unable to breathe on my own.  My oncology team and my wife were not sure I was going to live through this ordeal.  But I did by the healing hand of Christ.

The Lord brought me through that particular trial.  It was not easy to recover and I had to go through several weeks of physical therapy and had to stay in Arizona for 3 weeks.  Today, I am in a much better place in my battle with stage 4 kidney cancer. The tumors in my lungs are now half the size they were at this time last year.  I can say that I do not want to have any cancer in my body.  Yet, this whole cancer journey has caused me to truly come to know Christ in a real and tangible way.  He continues to give me revelation of Himself.  He continues to remind me that I am in Him and that He is in me.  I would not trade this relationship to Christ for anything.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Journey Takes Me to a New Home

20131223 PHX_BL32479 727-7H4 N707SA Southwest right side take-off lSo my cancer journey continued with my moving in with my dad.  After a week of living with my dad, I began to search online for apartments in the area close to the cancer center.  I knew that I could not afford to find my own place in California due to the high cost of rent.  I checked with a fellow cancer patient who has lived in the Goodyear area all her life on the apartments I was looking at.  She pointed me to the apartment that was in a good area to live.  On my next trip out for treatment, I visited the apartment complex closest to the center and filled out an application.  A one bedroom unit was available and I put down a deposit to hold it for me.   So, finally in late October I moved into my new home in Arizona.  The staff of nurses in the infusion department began to donate stuff that I needed for my new place.  I had moved here with a couple of suitcases of clothes and an air mattress.  Everything else I needed was given to me by my friends and care team from the cancer center.

Over the past several months I have become more familiar with the area and it is beginning to feel more like home. I had to have a new stent placed in my right bronchial tube in December, and it has helped to keep my airways open to breathe more freely. I am a regular fixture at the cancer center each weekday, even when I don’t have appointments.  I have breakfast with the Cancer Fighters group 3 days a week and I have the opportunity to meet new patients and friends. Dr. Quan has had me taking an oral medication called Votrient that I take on a daily basis.  This medication is working at shrinking the tumors in both my lungs.  Most of my hair has turned white, but that’s fine with me if it gets rid of the cancer.  I am hopeful that I will be declared cancer free in the coming months.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate Life 2015

logoEach year at each of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospitals, they host a Celebrate Life event.  This is an event to celebrate with those patients who have survived their cancer diagnosis for 5 years.  Each year a new tree is planted in the garden to honor these 5 year survivors.  I missed this event last year, and I am looking forward to attending this year’s event that is happening this week. The 5 year survivors also receive a gold leaf with their name on the Tree of Life display in the front lobby of the hospital.  I am due to receive my 5 year leaf in 2019.  I am confident in the Lord healing me of all the cancer in my body so that I can get my 5 year leaf.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Cancer Update: April

e6595e_417817903c5941cba3902324160d47d1I just met with my oncology team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America  today.  My CT scan showed that the tumors in my lungs are continuing to shrink. Praise Jesus my healer.

Categories: Cancer, Health, Personal | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

A Word In Season

...a word in due season, how good is it! (Prov. 15:23 KJV)

A Stairway To Fashion

contact: ralucastoica23@gmail.com

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

Converstations's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Blog of Milt Rodriguez

Christ and His Church

1019 Ministries

Preparing and Practicing Intercessory Prayer on Purpose

Cole Ryan

A Few Thoughts On Christianity

ConverStations: Small Business Improvements

The Insights of John A. Sansone

Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola

The Insights of John A. Sansone