Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Progress and Progression

When I got home from the hospital last September, I created a bucket list of things that I wanted to do before the end.  The list includes enjoying a Purdue football game from the skybox, riding the Boilermaker Special into the stadium, taking my family to Disney World for the first time,  visiting my brother and Martha in Detroit, taking our boys skiing for the first time (thank you Jamie Engesser), going to Vegas with my wife for a long weekend (Bellagio), meeting Clark Howard (thanks Christa DiBiase), taking the family to San Francisco for a week, a spending a entire month in Maui (thanks Little Ben).  It's been an amazing 8 months since my release from the hospital as we have completed all except the last two on this list (and we will be checking those off shortly).  That's PROGRESS!  Now I need to update the list with additional experiences that I can use to create memories with my family.  I'm thinking maybe a Disney cruise (never been on a cruise before).  Anyhow, if you have suggestions or ideas for me drop me a note.

Now, on to the more sobering topic of my health.  I will presume that everyone reading this is aware of my diagnosis and prognosis (if not, look at my earlier blog entries for details).  My oncologist conducted a CT scan last week and the results weren't encouraging.  It suggests that my cancer may be progressing and spreading further into my body.  The doctors want to take a deeper look at the scans but they appear to indicate spreading of the cancer cells to some abdominal lymph nodes and very tiny spots in my lung (an inevitability with colon cancer), along a with substantial growth of some of the existing tumors in my liver.  In addition, there are two spots on the scan which may suggest that the cancer has moved into the bones of my back.  We can't be sure yet, but the spots are in line with where I feel the most pain. 

Given this, my oncologist has decided to end my chemo treatments for now and instead pursue what's called a "targeted therapy" called Stivarga instead.  We are hopeful that this new therapy will be more effective at slowing down and even reversing some of the progression.  Also, I must admit that I will not miss spending 7-8 hours every other Monday at the chemo infusion center sweating profusely followed by 2 days wearing an infusion pump (that I cannot shower with) and 3 days of sweating through 4-5 towels per night.  Chemo sucks!  My new regimen will be 3 pills daily...that's it!  Not sure whether it will work or not, but it will definitely improve my quality of life for the time I have left.  Whatever that may be.

My symptoms and side effects have accumulated over the past 9 months to include severe neuropathy of my feet and fingers, fatigue, severe back pain, mouth sores, severe acne, and abdominal soreness.  But as my wife likes to say "it sure beats dying!"  And she's absolutely right.  I'm on some very powerful painkillers right now and yesterday I said to my eldest son "it's a good thing that it's not 100 years ago or I would be in horrible pain".  To which my son replied "Dad, if it was 100 years ago you would be dead".  Hahaha, Evan has a knack for pointing out the obvious :)  I must admit that I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend so much time with the kids since going on long-term-disability.  And now that it's summer I get to spend even more time with them.  Even better, we get to spend it in places like San Francisco and Maui this summer!


Frederico Melo said...

Ping me when you're coming to SF!! Maybe we could even hit Lake Tahoe when you're here... Summer time there is amazing! Kids are going to love it!

Angela Yochem said...

Thanks for the update. If a visit to Philly interests you, we would love to host you and your family here anytime. Hope to see you sometime soon. -Angela

Nicole Mason said...

Thanks for the update, Matt. Agree with Fred try to get to Tahoe when you are in the SF area. AND remember that "the coldest winter you ever spent was a summer in SF". Temps will be mid 60's-70's with fog or overcast (that is the norm for Northern CA coast in the summer).

Would love to see you if you have time in SF. Best to you and your family :-)

Andrew said...

Matt, I don't know if you will see this given the update Kristen passed along to James W Sunday, but if you do I want to thank you for the profound impact you have had on my life and Pivotal. I strive each day to live up to the standard you set here. When I look around at the people in the FE organization it is easy to spot those who came in on your tenure as they demonstrate that same standard. Thank you for helping me find passion in my job. I can never repay you for that. All my best

Josh Long said...


Your bucket list looks awesome! I hope you get to as many of them as possible.

I understand you're walking a very tough road indeed but I am happy that you're at least walking it with your family and friends who love you. You're the A-game, Matt, thank you for setting the bar so high.


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