Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This pic is from one week ago. Mateo will be 6 months on Sept. 6th and is getting his first tooth. Lucia will be starting preschool in two weeks and she'll go twice a week and is really excited about it! She will be 3 in November.

Esta foto es de hace dos semanas. Mateo va a tener 6 meses el seis de Septiember y le esta saliendo su primer diente. Lucia va a empezar en un jardin de infantes en dos semanas mas y esta con muchas ganas de empezar. Va a cumplir 3 anios en Noviembre.


Hi Everyone!!

Like you already know, life gave me a surprise with cancer of the esophagus which was discovered in June. After seeing four different doctors since November of last year, and some tests that showed nothing, my symptoms continued. My symptoms started last year with a feeling like the food was not going down good. It was very gradual but by November, food was getting stuck and I was starting to change my diet by eating softer foods to avoid the uncomfortable feeling. The doctors performed an upper GI test that is an x-ray of the throat and esophagus. You swallow a magnetic liquid that is seen going down the throat on the x-ray. Nothing was discovered with this test. The symptoms continued and I was told I had acid reflux and to take antacid. I returned 2 months later and was again told it was acid reflux and to take the medicine for 2 more months. Finally in May I went back to the doctor with my wife and insisted on an endoscopy to look down my throat and see what was there. At this point I was having a lot of trouble swallowing food that wasn't soft. To avoid choking we had starting to blend almost everything and completely cut out meat from the diet. The blood test showed no signs of illness but the doctor agreed to send me to a Gastroenterologist. With only 2 on the island I couldn't get in for a couple of weeks. Finally on June 22nd I had an endoscopy. The doctor found something she didn't like but said it was probably an infection, small chance that it could be the beginning of cancer but probably not considering my age. On June 25th, the results were back, I went to her office alone because I thought it wasn't going to be serious and the words she told be were shocking. I had esophageal cancer. And it was serious.
So like you all know, we came to California within 2 weeks of the diagnosis so we could have the support of our families and the best medical care. We had consultations at UCLA and The City of Hope. We chose The City of Hope to treat my cancer for their great reputation and for many excellent references. You can see their website at www.cityofhope.org
It has been 4 weeks since I started chemotherapy and Thursday of last week I had my second infusion, I have approximately 5 weeks left. The truth is I'm doing pretty well with the chemo. The first few days after the infusion are the most difficult. I feel pretty bad the first 4 days but the anti nausea medicine helps a lot! After about the 4th day I start to feel a little better but never normal. I feel a little week, sometimes more and sometimes less. And when I am feeling good, I take advantage of it and try to exercise a little. I'm eating good and drinking a lot of liquids. After about the 2nd week of chemo food started passing a lot easier and now I'm eating almost anything I want. So the doctors were happy about that and are hopeful that the tumor is shrinking.

My cancer is stage 3/4. The scans detected 2 very small spots on the liver but they can't be 100% sure unless they biopsy it. So they are treating it as stage 4, but the rest of my organs are clear. It is stage 3 because the tumor goes deep into all the layers of the esophagus. The surgeon said it is not a big tumor but is goes deep, it is about 3cm long.

Something that changed drastically since I found out about my cancer is my nutrition with the help of a great natural nutritionist on Maui. I'm eating mostly organic and taking supplements that help with the side effects of chemo.

Thanks to the love and incredible support of my wife and the happiness of being with our children everyday, and the incredible support of all of our family and friends and especially the faith we have in Jesus Christ, I'm taking all of this with Joy, Peace, a lot of strength and most importantly HOPE.

Something important that I want to share with all of you is that preventative medicine is fundamental. A very simple test, the endoscopy should have been preformed from the beginning.. It is the test that allows the doctor to see inside the esophagus and stomach and it is very easy. I had one in Maui and one in California and didn't feel anything. You have to be your own health advocate. My cancer could have been discovered 6 months ago when I first started going to the doctor. But because of my age, every doctor overlooked the symptoms and assumed the least: acid reflux.

The photo is of the first infusion of chemo. I'll keep you all updated often.
A big hug to each of you,