Did Earl dodge a bullet?

A lot has been going on lately at El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Earl is about to celebrate the 39th anniversary of his kidney transplant on the 17th of this month. He has been doing very well with Uncle Jerry’s kidney. Dr. Thomas Starzl, the surgeon who pioneered liver transplants, did the surgery at the University of Colorado when it still was pretty experimental. We just had a letter from Dr. Starzl about Earl’s transplant.

As a long-term transplant recipient, Earl’s biggest risk is skin tumors blowing up to huge sizes with the possibility of metastases. Not the really scary melanomas, but in the average person, the garden-variety squamous cell carcinomas that don’t go anywhere. The dermatologist who has been doing Mohs surgeries on Earl’s tumors recommended a radiation oncologist for one tumor just in case it had gone deep into his tissues even though the pathology report was clean. We met this doctor and loved him immediately. He did a routine CT scan, making a mask for his face to mark the spot for the radiation, and scheduled him a PET scan for today.

While visiting our primary care doc, I asked if it wouldn’t be prudent to do a colonoscopy, as Earl had never had one, since he was going into radiation therapy on one spot of his face. The doctor agreed, Earl finally agreed to it and had it yesterday. Yep, it was positive for colon cancer. Earl did the PET scan today, which covers the entire body, and we see the surgeon tomorrow. The gastroenterologist who performed the colo feels pretty sure that it is confined to the colon, but it needs surgical removal. The timing came together just fine. Hopefully, the surgeon can get to Earl’s tumor soon, so E can be riding when the weather turns nice. The surgeon is very good. He operated on a hernia Earl had from his 39 year-old incision three weeks ago on our 27th wedding anniversary.

Each time Earl goes to a doctor, whether for a procedure or a visit, he sacks out in bed for a few hours. Frank, who sleeps against my pillow, unfailingly joins him. I actually pull back my covers for Frank.

In the meantime, I contacted our AFLAC agent, Joyce, who is guiding me through the claims process. We bought AFLAC cancer policies after Jean was diagnosed two years ago. She had AFLAC, and it made a world of difference to her peace of mind, and financial position.

Folks, schedule that colonoscopy on time, and provide for a diagnosis of cancer by protecting yourself with a good cancer insurance policy.

Some positive news: I am about to embark on an “encore career.” I was accepted to the University of Wyoming to pursue a Master of Social Work degree. I love Laramie, it is close by, and I’ve had a condo there since last summer. A student at my age is not such a freak show. The AARP showcases many of its members going back to school for encore careers. Anything is possible, positive attitudes required.

Postscript:  The gastroenterologist just called with the biopsy results. No cancer seen in the four samples of the mass. It could be that there is cancer underneath, and the mass will be taken out. Could Earl have dodged a bullet?

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