Call me a wimp but I just could not continue with Chemo treatments. I felt like it was killing me… physically, mentally, emotionally. On Jan. 21, 2020, We had an appt with my oncologist. Usually when we have our chemo appointments, we start off meeting with the doctor in his office for about 15 minutes and then begin chemo treatment afterwards for 3-4 hours. However, on this day, I had A LOT of questions and went in with the doctor for about 45 minutes. Up to this point, I had received 2 chemo treatments, the first one with IV followed by a second medicine administered through a pump that I wore for 48 hours, and a second treatment with the same IV but followed with 2 weeks of taking 8 chemo pills a day for 2 weeks and then 1 week off. I had just finished the pills a week earlier and was just getting some of my strength back and the thoughts of starting that again on this day was daunting. I was already feeling like an old man with no energy. I had blisters on my feet, and hands hurt and were really red. Almost like they were sunburned from the inside out and I knew that would start all over again and get worse before it got better. I was also already beginning to feel the numbness in my fingertips that accompanied the chemo drugs. So, I went to see the doctor that day with lots of questions. One of the many questions I asked him was if I continue chemo, what % will this increase my chances of survival? He told me they were treating me to cure, but said the chemo increased my chance of survival by 10-15%. That was the clincher for me. Right there I stopped, and said REALLY?!, that is it?!, 10% greater chance to live.
At that point, he asked me what I wanted to do and if I was going to do chemo that day. Right there I told him I quit and I am No longer doing Chemo. I think I surprised him and my wife. I told him I wanted to explore other options and wanted to move forward with scheduling surgery to remove the infected part of my colon, something that both Andrea and I felt was right and an important step to take sooner rather than later. We told him we wanted to meet with Dr. Kim at LDS hospital to schedule surgery. He said ok, and asked to see us back in 3 weeks. He did not think we would be able to get that scheduled as soon as we did.
I know Andrea was very unsure of my decision to stop chemo. She knew it was hard on me, and quite frankly, it was hard on her too. At this time, I was determined to go to Arizona to try alternative treatments down there. We had received the blood test back from Greece and Dr. S$$$$ was telling us to get to Arizona ASAP. I just had to go with what I felt was right. We had done a lot of praying, asking for answers, directions, and I felt this was where I needed to go. So, that night I booked a flight to Arizona and the next day I was on a plane to PHX, AZ to start 2 weeks of alternative treatments. This was to get my immune system up, and prep for colon surgery I was hoping to get in a week or two.
In between those 2 weeks in Arizona, I was able to get an appt with Dr Kim to discuss surgery. I’ll tell you, doctors do not like to hear you have cancelled all chemo treatments. I know he meant well, but he made sure to let me and Andrea know that chemo was our option for cure. It was hard to hear, especially for Andrea, but we had to stick to our guns. We were able to get surgery scheduled for February 13, 2020. The plan was to do a right hemi-colonectomy where he would remove 1/3 of the colon on the right. Dr. Kim told us that if the cancer had spread, he was going to back out and close me up without doing anything. He asked me if that were to happen, did I want him to put in a bag? I looked at Andrea and we weren’t sure. We told him we would think about it and let him know the day of the surgery. The tumor was big in the colon and I didn’t want to end up with an obstruction. So much to think about.
With surgery scheduled, I returned to Arizona to finish up week 2 of IV infusions. I was beginning to feel good again and was getting my energy back. I was feeling better day by day as the chemo was leaving my system. While I was there, on request of Andrea, I began researching other doctors that did this same type of treatment. I felt Dr. S$$$$ was knowledgeable but there was never a plan put in place and each check I wrote him was for more and more money. Andrea felt uneasy about the whole process and asked me to treat it like a business and do my due diligence with it. That is what led me to finding a clinic in Reno that is run by an oncologist who marries modern medicine (low dose chemo) with natural alternatives. I set up an appointment to meet with the following Monday, Feb. 10.
Andrea and I drove out to Reno Sunday the 9th and met with Dr. F$#@! at the F$#@! cancer clinic. It was so different from Dr. S$$$’s office. At Dr. S$$$$, I was always the only patient there. But, here, the waiting room was full of patients. When Dr. F$#@! came in to talk to us, he told us he had looked at the blood test I had done in Greece, and told us he had a plan. It was three weeks of low dose chemo mixed with natural IVs – all shown to kill cancer in my blood, and then 3 months of low dose chemo in pill form at home. Andrea and I walked out of that office feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. We scheduled my appointments to start March 9, 3 weeks after my surgery.
On Thursday, Andrea and I walked in to LDS hospital to have the surgery. Dr. Kim reminded me that if the cancer had spread, he was not going to proceed and asked if I wanted him to insert a bag. Andrea and I had talked about it, and after feeling so hopeful with the Reno clinic plan, we told him no. We felt it wouldn’t be needed. So, while I was put to sleep, I’ll pass the blog post to Andrea to finish.
When they wheeled Aaron back to surgery and I had to leave him, I was nervous, anxious, and hopeful things would go well. We really did feel that the surgery was going to be a success. I left Aaron and went to the waiting room where my parents were there to offer support. An hour into the surgery, I let out a sigh of relief, because I knew they were continuing with surgery, which meant the cancer hadn’t spread and Dr. Kim was continuing on. Finally, after 3 hours of waiting, the OR nurse came out to talk to us. She said the surgery went really well and that they were able to remove the cancer in that area. I can’t even describe the feeling of happiness I felt to know the cancer that had plagued us for so long was removed. I know we are not done. I know there is the liver spot. I know it is traveling in his blood and could show up in a new location at any given moment… but for that moment, I celebrated! Dr. Kim eventually came out to talk more in detail of how the surgery went. He said the tumor was right where they said it was, that he was able to remove it and the remnants left over from the appendix cancer, and was able to re-attach the small intestine to the colon.
Now, 2 ½ weeks post surgery, I am doing well, feeling great! I am healing nicely and am ready to travel to Reno to begin the 3 weeks of treatment there. I feel good about our plan. I am grateful for the many prayers and fasts held for me. We continue to pray for direction and feel we have been led to this point. That became clear again to us, when the pathology report came back from the surgery and we were told the tumor had begun to pierce through the wall of the colon. Andrea and I both felt strongly to push for surgery sooner rather than later, and we are so happy we listened.