Lainy, I haven't been in here very often as thankfully my husband has been doing well for the past three years since his resection.
I just wanted to wish you well and thank you for being there for me and so many others during our darkest hours.
I very much enjoyed chatting with you about the spiritual aspects of life and I pray that you continue to experience light and love as you go forward in your journey.
Angels be with you Lainy. God bless you.
Melinda Aldrian

My husband had another check up today with his oncologist and I'm happy to report that he's three years NED post diagnosis and resection surgery. So blessed to have been treated at City of Hope in Duarte California. For the last 18 months, my husband has been a volunteer at City of Hope in the guest services department.   After new patients have completed their paperwork, John escorts them to the lab to get their blood work done and then up to their doctors for their first appointment. Knowing how scary it was for us our first time at City of Hope, I know that he is alleviating anxiety for  new patients and their families.  When asked by patients , John shares his story about his diagnosis of stage 4 bile duct cancer, his resection by Dr. Gagandeep Singh, and the 6 mo of follow up chemotherapy. There's no doubt  in my mind that God is working through John as he helps new patients and their families face their new normal. We thank God every day for  his life and I thank the members of this group for getting me through the scary early times. It's reassuring to see so many moderators still providing hope and sharing resources and medical options. May God continue to bless the doctors and staff at City of Hope and also all those on this Board who open themselves so that others may thrive.
Hugs, Melinda

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(37 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Great news Julie...you are one tough cookie with little pain after surgery. I'm sure you'll be doing laps around the nurses station in no time. Praying for a speedy recovery.
Abrazos,
Melinda

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(7 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Hello Dear Sharon and Phil, You have come to a great place for information and support. I am glad that your husband's pain levels are manageable. During chemo, my husband drank a lot of Boost to keep calories up. He found that he couldn't stomach many of his favorite foods, but could enjoy turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Needless to say, we ate a lot of this. As hard as it is, maintaining as positive an attitude is key. I too was angry when people would tell me to trust God and turn it over to Him. I couldn't turn it over at that time but kept praying. I now know that everything is indeed in His hands and a part of His plan. As a couple, we have never been closer and so filled with faith than we are now. Sad how it took this horrible disease to get to this place with each other and our faith. Don't lose hope Sharon. As others have said, everyone is different.
I will add you and your husband to my list for prayers. God bless you both.
Melinda

Hi Nikki, I totally understand what you are saying as far as severe cognitive loss after diagnosis and chemo. At first we attributed my husband's fogginess to chemo brain after a lengthy dose of GEM/CIS following his liver resection. It has now been 18 months since his surgery and chemo and his cognitive processes are still significantly decreased. This has caused a very deep depression to set in since he has always, prior to diagnoses, been as sharp as a tack. His inability to navigate his smart phone, computer, crossword puzzles, retrieve names, directions, etc. have prompted his doctors to suggest neurological testing for Alzheimers. We had scheduled this test twice and twice cancelled as the anxiety associated with "not knowing simple answers" became overwhelming to him. We didn't see a real benefit to having a diagnosis, only drawbacks such as limitations to his independence.
We have not received a diagnosis of paraneoplastic syndrome and after cursory skimming a few websites, don't feel that this relates to John.
He is taking meds for anxiety and depression which have helped some but his fogginess remains. I totally understand your concern and frustration as shown in your statement, "It's like we lost him before we lose him". I feel the same way, but as I told my husband, I'd rather have a foggy husband that no husband. With nine years age difference, he took such good care of me when we first married, it is now my turn to care for him. I am honored to do so but that doesn't mean that at times I become impatient or frightened at the impact on his life. Tell your mom to remember to care for herself when she can. Find the simple things that they can do together. With John and me, it is gardening or sometimes just sitting in the garden, watching the sunset, talking in the dark. I tell him that I didn't marry him for his brain. I married him for his heart...and that beats strongly and with passion for family and friends.
God bless you and your family. Stay positive if at all possible, and be good to yourselves.
Best wishes,
Melinda

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(6 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Hi Cat, I'm sorry about your mom's diagnosis. It is indeed a very scary thing to hear and process. I agree with Lainy that a second or third opinion will give you peace of mind that you have exhausted all avenues for treament. I have no words of wisdom, just an offer of prayers for your mum and your family. I know that maintaining a positive attitude, which is oft times difficult, will ease the daily confusion, anger, disbelief.
You have indeed come to the right place as there is a wealth of information with each and every member of this forum. Prayers for strength and comfort.
Melinda A

Hoping that all went well with your mom's scan. I will include your family in my prayers.
Melinda A

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(136 replies, posted in General Discussion)

I'm so sorry Carol for the loss of your wee dad. What an incredible relationship you had with him. He must've been a wonderful man to have raised such a caring daughter. I will include him and your family in my prayers for comfort.
God Bless,
Melinda A

Duke, I have never really written directly to you but for the past year and a half that I have been in this forum, I have enjoyed your "shoot from the hip" approach at fighting the good fight. You have been an inspiration to me and my husband, and now, as you make your decision to focus on quality, I once again find inspiration. I only hope that when the time comes for my husband and myself, that I can be as brave and eloquent as you. Love the Stones quote...it's so you.
God Bless you and your family as you continue your journey.
Melinda A

Hello Steven, I do not have information on any clinical trials that may be appropriate for your mom but I needed to comment that you are doing an incredible job, exhausting every avenue to find some form of treatment that would meet your mom's needs.
You have come to the right place as people in this forum are knowledgeable and very supportive.
I just wanted to let you know that I will include your mom and you in my prayers for answers towards a cure.
Keep up the great work supporting your mom. She must be a special person to have raised a loving, intelligent son.
Melinda

Hi Greg, great news that your cc was caught early, that you were able to have the resection and that you are NED. I do not know about the nerve involvement but your diagnosis, surgery  and treatment were very close to my husband's. Diagnosed in April 2014, surgery on May 2, clear margins, chemo with Gem/Cis but no radiation. John had 55% of his liver removed and had intrahepatic. We are going in this Wednesday for lab work, but his liver enzymes were normal before the tumor was found incidentally. At the end of September, we will have another CT scan which will hopefully reveal NED.
I just wanted to welcome you to this amazing group of fighters and supporters. They have been here for me when I had questions or was just nervous with upcoming scans.
Good luck with your treatment. You are one of the 2%, as our oncology surgeon says, that qualifies for surgery. Please keep us posted on your progress.
Continued blessings. 
Melinda A.

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(54 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Great news, Duke, about your feeling better now. I have not communicated with you directly before but you have always been an inspiration to me with your honest approach at fighting this dreaded disease.
Keep up the fight and please continue to keep us posted. You are such an inspiration to so many.   

Grateful to your family  for relaying information to us all.

Melinda A

13

(9 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Thanks for taking the time to research the side effects of his meds, especially as they relate to the concerns that I had. Great information. Great information. John's gp reduced the nighttime dose of diabetes meds and he started that regimen  last night. We will talk to his psychiatrist about the effects of his other meds on blood glucose levels. Your post, along with Lainy's, really calmed my nerves as the next appointment at City of Hope quickly approaches. I agree about the MRI contrast being different form the CT contrast. What you suggested was exactly what was done for his last scans...a combination of them both.
Lainy, I agree 100% with your comment about letting our guys have the fun moments/events to enjoy, while we cross our fingers, say some prayers and wait for the call that everything is going well.
Much appreciation to you both.
Will keep you all posted.
Melinda A

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(9 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Thanks Lainy and Julie for your very detailed messages. John went to his GP this morning as part of his four month follow up schedule. He went out to breakfast afterwards, so that is encouraging. Yes Julie, I am very worried about the changes that I see with him most recently. In particular, that the glucose fluctuations could be a result of new activity with his liver. Lainy, I agree that major surgeries can cause fluctuations in glucose readings and bouts of depression. He is taking Remeron, Xanax and  Zoloft and is under the care of experts. We will ask his oncologist next week if we should speed up the ct scan or if waiting till Sept 21 is ok. His last CT scan was 5 months ago. He can only have them every 6 months as the contrast is hard on his kidneys.
I am a bit more relaxed than I was at the time of writing my post. Since then we had two large parties at my house for the volunteers of a trauma intervention program and just this weekend a 75 person family reunion in 104 temperature. LOL  Glad that they are both over and maybe now we can rest a bit easier and not add that level of stress to the mix.
Thank you both for your responses. They were much appreciated. I will keep you posted after we see the docs in the coming weeks. You're right Lainy. he has indeed come too far to let this go on too much longer without checking into it.
Blessings to you both. and all of the wonderful people in this forum.
Melinda

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(6 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Prayers coming your way right now. A Jesuit friend remarked when I requested prayers for my husband:   

"...it's actually a blessing for the rest of us when you let us know that you're in need of support, because it gives us an opportunity to express care and concern for you, even if it's only in the quiet places of our hearts. It's a simple give and take of love that wouldn't happen if you didn't ask." 

Beautiful.


Melinda.

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(9 replies, posted in General Discussion)

Hello all, things have been going relatively smoothly since my husband's resection in May, 2014. I have written about his possible chemo brain and his frustration with lack of mental clarity and memory. He is seeing a psychiatrist and a counselor to deal with depression and anxiety.
My question to you all is whether there is a connection between increased frequency of bm's and urination and recurrence of bdc. His sugar levels have been erratic lately as well, often going low which he has never had since being diagnosed as type 2 diabetic many years ago. He is struggling to find pleasure in eating and has to force himself to eat and maintain his weight. This last symptom is very similar to what he experienced prior to his bdc diagnosis in April 2014.
We see his oncologist at the end of this month for labs, but his blood work was normal up until they found his tumor incidentally. We see his surgical oncologist at the end of September and will have a CT scan with contrast then to look for tumors.
Anyone have any info to share on these new issues that have arisen? I know that depression could be the cause of his unwillingness to eat. The bm and urination increase is new though as is his eratic glucose levels.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
Melinda

My 67 year old husband had 6 months of gem/cis chemo and the side effects were minimal. He lost some hair in terms of thickness and lost his sense of taste, sticking to a few meals that he enjoyed like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Every week we celebrated a new Thanksgiving. He now is experiencing some chemo brain as far as memory and word retrieval, but a year after finishing his chemo regimen, he is volunteering at City of Hope, welcoming new patients.
In my opinion, don't let the possible side effects stop you from trying chemo. Everyone is different, i know, but we are thankful that John's reaction was minimal.
God Bless
Melinda

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(5 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Hello Imcherry. You have definitely come to the right place. There are so many knowledgeable and caring people in here who will give you the facts and also share their hearts with you. The most important thing, I have found, is to keep positive. I know it's hard at times but it is so necessary for your long term plan.
Sending positive thoughts and energy that your chemo goes well and that side effects are minimal. My husband did 6 months on gem/cis and his only complaint was that good tasted funny.
As Lainy said, read up and become informed.
You can do this.
Melinda A

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(91 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Hello Aiste,
I'm sorry to hear that your dad had a bit of a set back with the fistula that they found. Thank goodness it was found so that a course of treatment can be planned. There is a lot of information on here and as Marions said, you will be able to search for specific information through that function.
The reason I have written, after reading your story, is to give you hope. Today is the one year anniversary of my husband's surgery to remove a large tumor and 55% of his liver and surrounding lymph glands. He has done well and now volunteers at the City of Hope where his doctors have worked miracles on him and so many others. John's gift is to provide compassion to new patients as he escorts them to their first lab and doctor appointments. They find hope in his story of being so sick and now giving back by helping those who are in the position we were in over a year ago. His surgeon wrote him a brief email yesterday, thanking him for helping his new patients and all of those who walk through the doors of the medical campus. What a blessing it was to find him.
You will have some setbacks throughout your journey, but keeping a positive attitude and maintaining hope are critical. The people on this forum helped me get through some very difficult times a year ago when I was in your shoes.
God bless your dad, mom and your whole family as you progress in your treatment. May God also bless those doctors to whom you have placed your trust... theirs is a difficult job.
Melinda

20

(24 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Thank you all for your encouragement and for making it possible for me to share the picture which, I believe, is in response to prayers. I did post it in Member's Cafe. Thanks to Rick for making pictures available to all and to Marion and Julie for your help and encouragement.
Hugs,
Melinda A

Congrats on one year Julie. Red Robin, McDonald's, or Denney's...it's all about celebrating with family. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers for a positive report on Friday.
Melinda

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(24 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Duke, I have tried to post an avatar picture in the past. I browse, upload and then I get nothing. I'm usually pretty computer savvy but had a mental block I guess with this small endeavor. I did post the picture on the Facebook cholangiocarcinoma page and many people responded or liked it. I'm not sure how many of you are on Facebook or are a member of that group.
By the way, John's MRI and CT scans, from brain to pelvis, came back clear. I had such a sense of calm going in to get the results. I know that, at this point, there is another purpose for him making it through his difficult surgery and chemo.
Marion, it's up to you if you'd like to remind Rick again. I know that people seem to be inspired by the picture.
Thank you for your interest.
Melinda

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(24 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Thank you Marion. I sent the picture to "Iowagirl" and she was inspired by it as well. I would love to share it. Could you tell me how, or can I send it to you, as a moderator?
Thank you Marion, Melinda B and everyone for your positive energy. I will keep you all posted.
Melinda

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(24 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Not sure how to post a picture on this forum. Message me on my facebook page, Melinda LaVenture Aldrian, and I'll send it to you. Or use my email address: melinda.aldrian@gmail.com
It is incredibly inspirational. I have had several people who have experience with angel orbs contact me about the image.
I hope this is ok on this board. I don't want to get in trouble using my email or fb contact.

thanks for your prayers for positive results. mri of brain today as well as ct of chest. tomorrow is ct of abdomen and pelvis. results on wednesday.

25

(24 replies, posted in Introductions!)

Hello CC Warriors! Thank you so much for your support and positive energy and thoughts....oh and for crossing everything possible on a body to bring good JUJU.
Lainy...great idea to just be forthright when talking with others. I'm sure that friends who offer help with word retrieval are put more at ease knowing that it's ok to just say the word that you were struggling to find. John's doctor is working hard to find the correct meds to regain chemical balance in the brain after surgery and chemo. We had an adjustment yesterday and today was the first "great day" in a long time. Hoping it's not just a placebo effect, but I'll even take that and hope it continues.
Hercules...What encouraging words knowing that you are 9 years out from a resection. As far as the cannabis, John got good results from Marinol (synthetic mj) and his surgeon suggested that he try the real deal for appetite and pain. We went to a clinic and spoke to the folks there but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I think John's being an ex Jesuit, may need a bit more persuading. I appreciate your suggestion tho and am keeping an open mind.
Julie T...You are absolutely right in that not being able to keep a thought or process as well as before. That is what really bothers John as well. Based on all of your comments, we had a great talk while walking around the gardens at City of Hope yesterday where we attended Ash Wednesday mass. You're right that whatever is going to be his new normal does not diminish the person that he is. It is what it is.
Marion...thank you so much for your words of support. You're right...surgery and chemo is such an invasion on your body and we just have to accept that each day is a gift and we are blessed to wake up each day and give thanks for all that we have been given.
Gavin...thanks for your well wishes from Scotland. You are always so supportive and I appreciate your contributing your crossed digits and positive thoughts as well.
John and I prayed and meditated at a labyrinth last Thursday and again today. I took pictures of him as he meditated and there was a beam of light enveloping him as he prayed. No doubt, he was inspired by this image and given hope. I wish I could share it with you...  It is an incredible picture.
Will let you know how his scan goes on Monday...results with oncologist on Wednesday, then meeting with his surgeon on March 2 to review results. I love his surgeon. He wants to stay closely involved for at least three years he said. what a blessing.
thank you all
Melinda A