Here is an overview of where we started and where we are now:
Dad had some abdominal pain that became progressively worse in the beginning of July, 2016. This culminated in a trip to Banner Thunderbird hospital in Glendale late on July 10th, Sunday night. After a few tests and exams we were told Monday that Dad had some growths in his lower intestine and that they needed to perform a laparoscopic inspection and biopsy.
Biopsy 1 of 2 revealed that the growths in Dads lower intestine were malignant.
The Oncologist diagnosed Dad with Stage IV Terminal Cancer, deemed to be Mucinous Adenocarcinoma – but was unable to determine exactly where it originated. Whether the cancer is Appendix based or Colon or Rectal, the paths all converge as the cancer begins to spread. This is where Dad is at. Regardless of the final diagnosis and determination of origin, the cancer has reached the point of convergence on a fairly standardized path of progression. This is why the Oncologist is able to provide initial treatment suggestions and overal prognosis.
A mucinous adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that produces what is called “mucin”, which is the main component of mucus. They begin to form on the lining of certain internal and external organs, and in Dads case this is presenting in his lower intestine.
“Adeno-“ means “gland”. Glands commonly secrete things in the body (endocrine glands) or outside of the body (exocrine glands). For example, mucous and sweat are secreted by exocrine glands.
A “Carcinoma” is a malignant tumor that starts in epithelial cells. If you put the 2 words together (Adeno-Carcinoma) you will see that what they mean are malignant tumors that start in the epithelial cells lining endocrine or exocrine glands.
Now to the term “mucinous”. Mucinous simply means “lots of mucous”.
So to bring it all together, a Mucinous Adencarcinoma is a malignant tumor that originates in epithelial cells on exocrine glands with lots of mucous.
It has been suggested by experts that the presence of mucouse can help a cancer spread faster through the body. This means that mucinous adencarcinoma’s are considered quite aggressive cancers compared to regular adencarcinomas and so are also harder to treat.
Mucino adenocarcinoma account for 10-15% of all adenocarcinomas.
The oncologist is suggesting aggressive treatment to combat this aggressive form of cancer and believes that this style of treatment can provide Dad with another two years of life. As with all estimations, it is just that. There are many newer treatments that have been successful in delaying and treating and leading to remission.
Biopsy 2 of 2 revealed that the cancer is colon based, which means it is present in that area of the abdomen so it could also include or stem from the appendix.
Dad is experiencing some stomach distention and discomfort, especially since the exploratory laparoscopy. He has had several X-rays and an MRI. These confirm that his bowels are not moving , which is the most pressing issue. Dad is scheduled for a surgery on Monday, July 18th, 2016. During this surgery a port will be placed which will be used for chemotherapy, and the surgeon with proceed with one of several options to resolve the bowel issue.
The team at the hospital has been great, especially a few nurses, Chelsea, Shawn, and Becky, who have been a Godsend. We are continuing to research, learn, and explore options for the best outcome moving forward.
We take this opportunity to reflect on the precious, fleeting moments we all encounter on a daily basis and recognize the beauty and gift that each holds. Please hug your kids, spouses, parents, friends, and loved ones. Smile. Enjoy the moment. Live life.
With the utmost love from the Harless family,