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Old 02-10-2015, 04:55 PM   #1
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Pondering one's own mortality.

I think we have all at one time or another either asked, or been asked "If you had only (X) amount of time left, what would you do?".

I have answered that question mostly with something to do with fast cars, young women, and old whiskey. But, that was all in fun and philosophical.

But, now I find myself pondering that question without the fun or philosophical part.

I have been dealing with a number of different forms of Cancer for about 6 years now. Until recently, things went about as well as could be expected. The VA has been nothing short of marvelous in treating me, my cancer, and all sorts of side issues.

I started with colon and bladder cancer back in 2009. Both were treated immediately, and all seemed well. The colon cancer is in itself, is gone, but early in 2011, matasisi to my liver. The bladder cancer remained dormant until 2013, and continues to be an on again, off again issue.

I was on chemo from early 2011 until Jan 2014 when we stopped chemo because of increasing side effects, and being unclear if the tumors were being held in check by the chemo, or had just gone dormant. About the same time, I was offered an alternate procedure called Y-90 at our local Army Medical Center. The Y-90 procedure seems to have had a very positive impact on the tumors in my liver, but still to early to tell.

In Addition to the liver cancer, the bladder cancer, I have some not so serious issues with prostrate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, and a bit of a minor heart issue.

I feel like I am in a race with this damn motorhome. As soon as I get one thing patched, something else pops a leak. Thinking we both will show up at the end, bald tires, leaking radiator, dripping oil, dirty and scratched, with a smile and thinking "damn, what a ride".

The last six months have been somewhat confusing. The tests and scans seem to show the tumors are growing, but at the same time, it could be scar tissue caused by the Y-90 procedure. BUT, all the latest tests seem to indicate that the tumors are indeed growing at an alarming rate. My VA Oncologist seems to think it is imperative to restart chemo immediately to have the best chance of slowing/reversing the growth while it is still possible. The Doctors at the Army Center seem to think that we are still in the game, but have yet to see the latest test results, which seem to show growth beyond what the Y-90 may or may not have been involved.

Anyway, we managed to get some cold hard prognosis from our VA Doctors. Although they stop short of setting a time limit, they did offer some insight into what life holds for me if I choose not to continue with chemo, and if we go hard core treatment.

Basically, it turns out to be just a matter of time, with of course, more time to be expected if I choose to go with some extreme treatment.

The problem is, while it is just a matter of time, the quality of the time gained may not be worth all the effort, the costs (mostly to the VA), or the negative impact on my lifestyle.

While on one hand, I am not quite ready to throw in the towel, I see no benefit in making a very difficult effort to stay alive when that same effort will make life an exercise in surviving at best, or unbearable at worst.

I am not a hero. I don't see myself as making a brave fight to beat cancer. But, I do have certain obligations to my family, my wife in particular. I have a number of things to accomplish, to leave things in as good a condition as I can. I have no doubt that I can get things in order in plenty of time, but as is life, you get one thing fixed, and sure enough, something else rears it's ugly head.

So, I find myself trying to come to some mindset on how to deal with all this. On my own selfish interests, I have started chemo again, and find it extremely difficult to deal with. But, again, I have others to consider, and that would suggest I suck it up and deal with my selfish own concerns. Not sure I am strong enough or wise enough to find the better path.

As for myself, I have little or no fear, or at least I would like to believe. I have had a truly remarkable life. Been places, done things, and lived like most guys can only dream of. I've certainly got my nickel's worth. I have few things left on my bucket list, and those are mostly things I can really do without.

I have been extremely lucky. In spite of being pretty much an idiot, a jerk, not so great Father or Husband, I have been blessed with a truly wonderful family.

I just hope that I can somehow clean up my act, and get what ever time remains right, or at least as right as I am capable of doing.

Ken Gasbarri

Be Of Good Cheer!!!
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:13 PM   #2
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good luck you have your mind on right

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Old 02-10-2015, 05:32 PM   #3
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Fighting the good fight

Ken, that is an amazing story of courage and of inner strength. Not giving up is half the dosage for the medicine we all need to help us deal with the things that happen to us in life.

Keep fighting the good fight my friend. My best wishes for you.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:33 PM   #4
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Best of luck to you. I assume you have all the proper paperwork in place to make your end of life wishes known and documented. Someone knows where everything is in regards to accounts, passwords, documents, and you have done all you can to make a emotional time go as well as possible. Having done that, it may be time to be selfish and have it your way.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:52 PM   #5
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All my best to you Ken ,went thru it with the wife 4yrs ago ,do as much as You think you can for your wife ,let the cards fall where they may on everything else,thats all you can do , being tough HAS its limits
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:57 PM   #6
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Ken, I also have colon cancer mastestised to my liver. I was given 2 years last April. I said bs and went for second opinion at MD Anderson. They did test and gave me a chemo protocol sent me to UAB in Birmingham. So far so good. Really good Dr. Have you considered a second opinion on your chemo? Good luck and thanks for serving our country.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:01 PM   #7
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Coming face-to-face with the boogey man certainly puts things into perspective. I'm sure that somewhere inside you know what to do. Do that, and you will be at peace with at least yourself. Good luck.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:02 PM   #8
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A friend of mine died the other day from cancer caused by exposure to agent orange. What a waste. Good luck and best wishes.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:39 PM   #9
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Hi Ken, the thought of having to do chemo again to me is harder than throwing in the towel. I went through it 4 years ago for a different cancer, and I feel badly for what you are going through. I hope you are up to getting some other opinions like Al said.

Cancer does change the game. It does make us acutely aware of a more meaningful life and the ones we love. The frustration is never being sure if we will fulfill all dreams. My bucket list seems to never shorten. But I am at peace with knowing I have accomplished more than many others without illness.

I hope you can lighten up your load and find some things you really love to do, for that is the greatest distraction in the world, even if you have to hire help, keep doing what you love...and be proud.

I have studied the effects of stress with cancer and it can play a role in your immune system. I hope you and your family can plan some great distractions, and many smiles come your way.

I'm a photographer, and during chemo I found out there were some bald eagles near my home. I drug myself to my car and got out of the city. By myself, I photographed this great eagle from 50 ft. Away. I was so proud! It carried me thru some tough days, but the stress levels reduced greatly.

My thoughts are of you, and please know many others are thinking positive as well. Take care, and please let us know how you are doing Ok?
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:18 PM   #10
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Hang tough but consider yourself as you consider others. I did chemo and so far in remission and your situation is always in the back of my mind. We all make the life journey and yours is unique to only you, those who proceed after you will make their own decisions so I urge you to do what's best for you and I think you will find that will be the best choice for all. Go gently and I hope you find peace of mind in your journey. All the best to you and those around you.
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:25 PM   #11
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^^^^ well said Alan and X2.
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:48 PM   #12
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Yes my friend treat you first. Get everything in order and continue to move forward and realize that you do have TODAY! use it all, not easy, I feel your anxiety and pray grace and peace fill your mind.
Clay & Pebble.. Miss Butter our sweet Goldie (Jan. 2005-Jan. 2015) Sissy our Border Collie
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:05 PM   #13
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Thanks for the touching story, Ken. Makes one realize what others face and how strong they (you) are.
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:21 AM   #14
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Ken, please check the PM I sent you!

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