Monday, March 06, 2006

Initial Entry

My name is Caroline Stoufer and I live in beautiful Ouray, Colorado in the southwest part of the state. Last fall, I had some minor abdominal discomfort and thought I might have gall stones. I could feel something in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen when I took a deep breath. Unfortunately, an ultrasound revealed a mass in my liver. I had a needle biopsy a few weeks later, and I was told by my local doctor on October 28th that I had cancer in my liver which the pathology indicated had metastisized from elsewhere. I had a bunch of tests to try to find the primary cancer and nothing came up. My oncologist, Dr. Michael Bergen, at St. Mary's Oncology Center in Grand Junction referred me to a surgeon, Dr. Martin McCarter, at University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.

Dr. McCarter removed my "hairball" on November 30, 2005. My tumor was about the size of an orange and they took half my liver which has since grown back. They found cancer in my liver bile duct and I have been diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. They also found cancer in one of nine lymph nodes sampled, so I was cautioned that the cancer would likely come back. I spent eight days in the hospital, and after those first few days of surgery, it was an effort to even open my eyes. It was great to get home, but I felt like I'd been hit by a freight train for the first month after surgery.

Three weeks after surgery, I had a check up. I had a fluid build-up in my chest cavity. They drained two liters of fluid from me which look liked an amber ale. After that, my recovery went very smoothly and quickly, and after two months, I felt back to normal and then some. My oncologist did not recommend chemo at that time.

In January 2006, I went to the local integrative medicine clinic and consulted with Patty Ammon, MD. I began taking six supplements: N-acetyl-cysteine, omega 3 fish oil, folic acid mouthwash, Co-Q-10, mushroom extract, and vitamin C in large doses. My oncologist told me at a check-up in February that the vitamin C could actually promote tumor growth, so I quit taking it. I also take a Flinstones multi-vitamin everyday.

In February 2006, I had a PET and CT scan, and I have several small tumors in my liver. We expected a recurrence, but not so quickly. My oncologist and surgeon have recommended that I participate in a clinical trial for sorafenib. The nearest place the trial is being offered is in Dodge City, Kansas which is a nine hour drive from here. I'm in the process of getting my medical records to the clinical trial, and I will have a blood test this week so they can check my blood chemistry. Keep your fingers crossed that I get in the trial and that the drug works.

I am looking at other trials as a back-up plan. We're also looking at chemo and radioactive seeds in the hepatic artery as possible treatments.

Thanks to so many friends and families for your prayers, cards, gifts, and support of all kinds. It is the best "treatment" in all of this.

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