Saturday, March 23, 2013

30% is good right? Right? Fighting cancer isn't sexy. Part 3

Thank you for your continued amazing response on Twitter for the first two Cancer posts.

Links to first two posts:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3:

I found myself in a comfy reclining chair a lot over the next few weeks. I was banned from sitting on my stitched up behind, so I reclined or laid down. I still was in some pain. I'm not a big fan of pain meds, but they helped. I was itchy as hell from the incisions. Combined with the pain, I had some sleepless nights.

I was visited by visiting nurses for the next several weeks. They helped me change my bandages and empty my drains. Having to empty drains a couple of times a day of liquid goo that came from your insides? Awesome. Good times!! I got good at it & kept a record of how much goo came out every time.

The most important thing the nurses helped me with was my colostomy. I had come to terms with it....or at least I though I did. The hospital gave me clear bags to use. Emptying them was bizarre. And being clear bags? Ok, this was seriously gross. After emptying them, I felt filthy sitting with a used bag attached to me. Because I was so early into my colostomy, I had limited options as to what supplies I had to use. My stoma was going to shrink & before I moved to different products, I was told I had to keep using the standard products.

I searched the Internet & found covers to put over the bag. They arrived & it made me feel human again to have things be "covered up". Over the next several weeks, I was able to try different samples of different products. I settled on some beige disposable bags that fit well & weren't see through. Over the past couple of months, I've gotten good at changing my bags, the wafer & all that fun stuff. It still is a bit freaky.

It's emotional to deal with. A lot of people don't talk about it. I am. I don't want to be ashamed. Fuck it. It's part of who I am now. Another fun perk of colostomies? Gas. You don't pass gas the regular way anymore. It's passed through the stoma on your stomach. Since there's no muscle in the stoma...gas comes out as it pleases. Now there's no smell. The bag and the filter take care of that. But the sound? Ya, sometimes it's loud. If people don't know what you are dealing with, it sounds like you are ripping a big fart in front of them.
 SEXY!!!!! Gas medication & avoiding certain foods can help. But the biggest thing that I have found that helps, is the right attitude. Who cares what people think. I'm alive and happy. You can gently explain your situation if you feel like it or just smile and raise your hands & scream "WOOOOOOOO!!! THAT WAS A GOOD ONE!!!!!".

My body had slowly recovered from the surgery. But I wasn't the same. My body was exhausted. I went back to work part time and was able to take long naps in the afternoon. It felt good to work again. I was ready for the next step.

I had liver cancer on one side of my liver. There was one part of my liver that was cancer free. I was told that the magic liver can regenerate. Before just diving in and cutting out the bad part of my liver, there were more things to be done. If they cut out the cancer affected part of my liver, the healthy part that I had was a bit too small to live with.

So I was scheduled for a liver embolization. They would make an incision into my right side and send "Magic bullets" to stop the blood flow to the cancer affected part of my liver. This would trick the good part of my liver to think that it had been removed. And hopefully it would grow.

It was a two hour surgery/procedure. I remember them asking me if I felt pain during the procedure. I felt a bit in my liver area & told them. But for the most part I was out. I woke up & they told me that everything went well. I stayed one night in the hospital. They wanted to make sure that things were ok & my liver was still functioning. I felt tired & sore, but otherwise ok. I was released the next day & I was so happy to be home.

Over the next few weeks or so, I worked part time & gave a lot of rest to my weary body. My spirits were high. Geno's World was going great. My charity work with the Carroll Center for the Blind was flourishing. Things were decent. I wasn't 100%. I needed a ton of rest. But I was fighting hard!

This week I had a CT scan to see if my liver had grown. Over the last 7 months, I've lost track of the CT scans, MRIs, Pet Scans and tests I've gone through. Dozens. It's no big deal for me anymore. Drink goop? Ok. Lie in a huge machine & stay still. Sure. No problem.

Yesterday I met with my liver surgeon to get the results of my CT scan. The good news was that the healthy part of my liver had indeed grown. The cancer spots had grown a little bit too. I was now now cleared for surgery. I'll have it in a few weeks.

It was scary as always to sign the consent forms. Had the doc list all the possible complications as he has to. I heard everything short of me growing a third leg. Dude!!!!! I'm going to live right? Right? Yes, most likely I will get through the operation fine. The surgeons in Boston are the best. I'm in good hands.

Then he talked about my future. This was tough to hear. I was candidly told that there is only a 30% chance of me being alive in 5 years. I had him repeat it a few times in a few different ways. Numbers didn't change. I realize that cancer is a fierce beast. It comes back in many situations in the affected areas or in new fun areas. I appreciated this doc's honesty. I also have confidence in him.

30%. Fuck that crap. I'm 100%. Yes it's sobering to hear numbers like that. Who wants a death sentence? I'm planning on getting through the operation. I'm planning on still being around in 5 years. And way beyond that. I love life. I love Geno's World. I love The Carroll Center for the Blind. I love my family. I love my friends. I love sexy legs. I have to live for these things and these people! I will win. Thanks for reading my posts. Thanks for the positive vibes. Please stay with me as I fight my battle - Geno

......Oh and I MUST kiss Alyssa Milano on the cheek before I croak. I'll be so pissed if I die before I get to do that.

Link to Part 4


Anonymous said...

I hear you on the consent forms man. I had an orchiopexy (where they stitch your nuts in place to keep them from twisting around) and oh man they had a list of possible complications. Any time they are stitching your nuts it's not good.

Then my ma (lifelong nurse) reminded me that many surgical complications happen when people don't follow the doctor's instructions for rest after the surgery, so I was like, oh hell no. I don't want any nut complications, you know what I mean? I've never been so obedient in my life. But you know what, I healed up, and didn't have any problems. Worst pain of my life I had two different pain meds and a nerve block but I was still vomiting dark green from the pain on the ride home. F'ing potholes man!

Anonymous said...

30% is pretty damn good. Keep that thought. You are a fighter in the biggest way and you will get through this. And you have us to keep you uplifted.

tattooedguy said...

Thanks for writing about your experience.It was very helpful.My mother was just diagnosed with cancer 2 weeks ago started in the colon they removed the tumor.The cancer spread to the liver 50% of the liver has cancer in it nothing in the colon.Chemo will start in a few weeks.She has a bag on because they could not reapir the colon..I have heard different storys on how chemo affects people...Thanks for sharing your story

~Sumner~ said...

Thank you for sharing your story. You are very strong, inspirational, and courageous! I know you will kiss Alyssa Milano on the cheek someday I believe it and I believe you will turn that 30% to 100%! Never give up and always stay strong. I am going to tell you something now that I hardly tell anyone. Both my late grandfathers had lung cancer. My late Grandpa beat his cancer but not before going through chemo and radiation and the radiation ended up burning his esophagus. He passed away in 2009 from complications from his lung cancer though his lungs never fully recovered from it. He also had sleep apnea and by the end was on oxygen full time. My late Grandaddy also had lung cancer but he was an alcoholic too he drank 7 and 7 ( Seagrams 7 and 7 up) from the time he got up in the morning to the time he went to bed so his lung cancer ended up spreading from his lungs to his brain to his spine and finally to his liver. His liver was shot from all the alcohol so the drs couldn't do anything for him. He passed away when I was 14 and in the 8th grade back in 2002 I believe. I remember that morning like it was yesterday I woke up to get ready to go to school when my mom came in and told me he had passed away and I ended up staying home from school that day because I was sick. I know what it feels like to see someone affected by cancer but I know and believe with all my heart that you can beat this disease. Keep up all the good work with Geno's World and Carroll Center! Always have you in my thoughts in prayers!

Wendy (Elliott) Loose said...

You are a brave, brave man. Cancer is not easy, I know, I've been there, done that. My greatest wish is that you have 100% recovery rate and we will celebrate as victors together in this race against that dreaded C word. Never give up! Never give in!

Anonymous said...

I love you to no end. I'm backing the 100 percent buddy, if you say it, it must be so. I owe you a dinner, and if you stomach fart it's coll too. xx

Anonymous said...

A small list of "ideas" to check:


3. The yahoo groups:,, and (dr. Vincent Gammill is in this group)

4. Dr Carl O Helvie ‏@holisthealthsho

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”
― Walt Whitman

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story! Unfortunately colon and rectal cancers are one of those taboo topics that no one wants to talk about, but it is so important for people to understand.

My father had a very similar experience, diagnosed late stage, had the chemo, radiation, surgery, colostomy, urostomy...

Keep your head up and good thoughts and prayers sent your way to be the 30%!

Anonymous said...

Keep good thoughts always. Turn negative into a positive. I worked with a client in treatment and his third romp with cancer went into remission...mind over matter. Best wishes:)

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say but I know I have to comment something. I'm blown away. Thank you so much for sharing your story. The courage, humor, and positivity you are living your life with is inspiring. I don't know much about cancer and this opened my eyes. I'm going through very minor health issues and was getting upset over it, but after reading this I'm dealing with my stuff in a different way. Thank you again and I wish so many blessings for you.

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