Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cholangiocarcinoma...Can You Say That Again?

After giving my mom a few weeks to recover from surgery we had our first appointment with the oncologist, Dr. Bott.

We (by we I mean myself, Dayna, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, and of course Mom) all crammed into an exam room in the cancer center at American Fork Hospital. Dr. Bott came in and had us introduce ourselves to him asking who we were and what our relation to the patient was. Then he got right down to business. As he started to talk Dayna pulled out a little notebook and started taking notes.

He had the results from the state-of-the-art lab...
Mom had a rare form of cancer known as Cholangiocarcinoma or biliary cancer. Essentially it is a cancer that starts in the bile duct system of the liver. There was no way to tell how long it had been there, but Dr. Bott said it was possible it had been there for a few years. He had only seen one case that he could compare this too. It was a woman around the same age as Mom. With chemotherapy she lived for about 24 months and was only seriously ill for two of those months. He did say however that in this woman's case they caught it a little earlier. His main concern was that my mom was already turning yellow which meant that her bile duct was possibly blocked and that her liver was not functioning properly.

Dr. Bott said that while the cancer could not be cured, he thought that chemotherapy could slow it down. He was concerned that her liver was not functioning well enough to metabolize the chemo drugs. While most chemo drugs are processed in your liver their are a few that the body processes through the kidneys that could be an option, but some of those were not available due to the chemotherapy drug shortage (I don't know much about this because at the time I was afraid I would get upset with what I learned).

The other option was to do everything that was medically possible to keep her comfortable if she chose not to do treatment. I think that we all had our own little moment with Mom before we went to this appointment. We all told her the same thing. That we understood if she didn't want to do treatment. We wanted her to make the most of the time she had left and were afraid treatment would make her sick. You see we had big plans; we were going to go places and do things with whatever time Mom had left.

When Mom was diagnosed she said that she just wanted to make it to our graduations. She decided that if treatment would help her make it to graduation and maybe give her some time go some places and do a few things she would do it.

 Mom's best case scenario for treatment would be to have her liver functioning well enough that the drugs could be metabolized through it. Efforts to make that possible led us to the Huntsman Cancer Institute...

You can learn more about Cholangiocarcinoma here: http://www.cholangiocarcinoma.org/definition.htm



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