Max had a long and hard recovery from his abdominal surgery, but over time his strength returned. Life returned to normal…albeit a less energetic and lower key approximation of normal. At least for a few months. Then Max started to have what we termed ‘attacks’ on a weekly basis. These attacks consisted of excruciating pain terminating in violent bouts of vomiting. The doctor diagnosed these as intestinal adhesions and agreed to further surgery to fix what she could. In May 2008, Max underwent corrective surgery, but the doctor wasn’t prepared for the extensive problems she discovered and hadn’t reserved the OR for enough time to make major inroads. So, Max was left just as debilitated as ever with fewer options. The attacks continued.
By the summer of 2010 Max was losing ground. Pain had become the norm and his energy was waning. Fooled by the fact the attacks continued regularly, which made us think they were at the root of his problem, we weren’t totally unprepared when, upon his six month checkup, it became apparent the cancer had returned. A subsequent PET scan and MRI revealed a 9 cm tumor in his lower abdominal area, extending from the backbone to the bladder. No wonder he had begun to have problems urinating.
The answer was more surgery, with a round of chemo first to mop up any far-flung cancer cells. Max began on a course of three different infusions over three months. Not to leave everything to medicine, he also started on a neutralizing combination of baking soda and molasses we heard could create a noxious internal environment for the cancer. So he drank this concoction between trips to the infusion center and prayed that something would work.
Nearly six months later, after being told he would face the most extensive surgery performed at UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center, Max went under the knife. Before being wheeled into the OR, we were told the surgery would last at least 9 hours and he might need to be placed on a respirator. I left the pre-op area shaken, not knowing what would come out of that operating room. I stayed close to the phone all day, anxious to hear the hourly updates from the surgical nurse. The news wasn’t good. They had found tumors. There was work to be done. All wasn’t well. I doubled over with each new report, my stomach cramped, my heart hammered. By the time the doctor approached me, I was expecting the worst. It couldn’t be good news. I braced for the prognosis.
“We couldn’t find any cancer,” were the first words out of her mouth. Unprepared for this, I made her repeat herself. Then tears began coursing down my cheeks. The battle was over; we had won the war. We had defeated Cancer.