October 01, 2015
Getting through liver cancer with family and a positive attitude
BY Eric Kleiman
"Cancer? What do you mean I have cancer? I feel fine."
This is what I said to myself when I woke up the first couple of mornings after I was diagnosed with liver cancer.
However, I quickly decided that I was going to get through this by controlling the only thing I could control -- my attitude. I couldn't control the blood tests, doctor appointments, the scans, the blood tests, the surgery, the blood tests, the exams and did I mention the blood tests?
So, I decided that I was NOT sick. I just had cancer. Yes, it was liver cancer. Yes, it was caught early during a routine scan after about of kidney stones, and yes, I was better off than some and worse off than others. But I would get through this, and I would do it with the help of my MD Anderson family.
Finding family through liver cancer treatment
As I've learned, the thing that means the most when going through cancer is family. For me, that meant not just my wife, kids, siblings and parents, but also my MD Anderson family.
My wife and I came to MD Anderson for a second opinion just about 12 months ago. I remember the first time we stepped in the doors at MD Anderson. Oh my, so many people with those little white wristbands you get every time you come in for any type of appointment. It was unnerving, yet calming.
My first impression when I saw all of the patients was that I was not alone. To me, that little wristband was a badge of honor. As soon we met our oncologist David Fogelman, M.D., our surgeon Jean-Nicholas Vauthey, M.D., the nurses, the physician assistants and even the receptionists and volunteers, we felt at home. We made the decision on the spot to switch to MD Anderson. We knew we were among family here.
My liver cancertreatment at MD Anderson
My major liver-resection surgery took place at MD Anderson on Oct. 7, 2014. I'd never had surgery before, so having major surgery for my first time was quite an experience. However, with the support of my family, including my MD Anderson family, I was home within a week and on my way to recovery.
We started the first of my 12 chemotherapy treatments in early December. Again, my MD Anderson family made the process assmooth as it could be. After the first couple of infusions, undergoing a 6-hour treatment once every three weeks started to become routine, and I knew what to expect.
As I tell others, my side effects were not too bad, but it's different for everyone. There are so many variables involved, including the combinationof chemo drugs, how your body reacts, what kind of cancer you have and how you react to all the other medicine they give you.
Life after my liver cancer treatment
I finished my chemo treatments this past July and had a clear scan late that month, so now I am on what they call surveillance. I just wish they could find a better word. I have visions of MD Anderson installing cameras in my house and just hope they keep the camera away from the kitchen as my appetite is now back to normal.
My next scan is at the end of October right before Halloween. Hopefully, that scan won't show any ghouls or gobblins. But the way I look at it, I can still only control my attitude, and that's what will get me through whatever life throws at me. My family, including my MD Anderson family, would agree.
Eric volunteers withmyCancerConnection, MD Anderson's one-on-one support program. To connect withother cancer patients and caregivers through myCancerConnection, please call 800-345-6324 or visit myCancerConnection online.
I can still only control my attitude, and that's what will get me through whatever life throws at me.