Monday, November 28, 2005

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0004 - Anger & Hope

No, there was no Day 0003. Of course, there was a Sunday, and I was thinking a great deal about colorectal cancer yesterday. My parents did visit for a few hours. But the day was not one in which I found expression in writing. Instead, it was a day of anger, denial, frustration, and heartbreak as I watched the impact of my illness of one of my sons. It tore me up to witness his sense of loss and helplessness. I couldn’t find a still point in which to express the feelings for the day.

Today is different yet again. I am back to work. I certainly don’t feel very productive right now, but it’s good to tell my colleagues about what’s happening and to review projects with which I can make some progress before surgery occurs. My sick leave entitlements are better than I was anticipating. And my colleagues are generally as supportive as I have any right to expect.

Both my surgical oncologist’s receptionist and my general practitioner called today to talk about next steps. My GP informed me that my alkaline phosphatase results were reasonably good (130) back in August when my annual blood tests were performed. Elevations of alkaline phosphatase can indicate blockage in the bile ducts of the liver when metastases are present from colorectal cancer. There was no reason at the time to have my CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) tested, but I’m sure that will occur soon. CEA is a protein which some colorectal cancers produce and can be linked to a growing tumour.

Both my GP and the surgical oncologist’s receptionist advised me to “put my brain in neutral” for the next few days until I’ve had my consultation with the surgical oncologist to review my treatment and staging options. Maybe they’re right. Maybe my research is elevating my anxiety levels unnecessarily right now.

There is a cancer support group in the Waterloo Region that offers some promising programs – HopeSpring. This resource might offer some help for our family as we try to cope with cancer. There are peer counsellors, support groups for patients and caregivers, discussion groups, classes, therapies, yoga, tai chi, and a resource centre. If I am enrolled in the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre’s CARE Source programme, then there will also be other professional supportive care options available to me and my family. I can even manage my treatment plan online using this resource.

I guess this means Day 0004 is a good day with some reason to hope and transcend the anger and frustration without denying the value of days like yesterday.

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