My husband R. (64 years old) returned from a visit to Florida very jaundiced. We went to his internist the next day and were sent immediately to the hospital for tests. Initially, the docs thought they saw a mass on his pancreas and since his CA-A 19 marker was 5700...thought he probably had pancreatic cancer with a plugged duct. We were sent to a GI surgeon two days later who discovered as he did the endoscopy to place a stent in R.'s pancreas that the tumors infact were blocking his bile ducts, thus probably cholangiocarcinoma. Boy, have we been learning a lot. This started on March 10th, and after the PET scan revealed spread to his liver and lymph nodes...he was started on Gemzar March 24th. His oncologist said that his cancer is stage 4...but the value of staging was for dr.s to have a short hand to use when the consulted with each other re: cases. The doc wants to start R. on a second chemo agent if and when his jaundice clears up...The GI fellow put in plastic stents in case surgery was an option, but since surgery is not an option now due to the spread of the cancer, is going to put in metal stents on Tuesday, April 1 to hopefully help the jaundice improve.
R. is pretty tired and dozes between reading and TV...he is pretty dizzy when he stands up most days...we're not sure if that is the jaundice or the cancer...He has some suppositories for nausea that he finally used today and he reported that he felt somewhat better...He still gets up and comes to the table for his meals...but doesn't want to be on his feet too much.
One of the docs said that R.'s prognosis was 4 to 6 months...this seems hard to believe because he just doesn't seem that sick...and, yet, he surely isn't his usual energetic self. I am a school administrator with lots of sick leave and a wonderful staff that are keeping problems off of my plate. I have spent most of the month home with him, but have gone into work a few days to deal with some budget and personnel issues. We are hoping for remission with Chemo, but if that doesn't happen, want, of course, to spend as much time together as we can.
Can any of you help me understand how this dreadful disease progresses? Will it become much more obvious to us as we get closer to the end? Are there some encouraging experiences of remission after chemo for stage 4 CCC?
I am so glad I found this site. Thanks to all of you in advance for sharing your wisdom, kindness and support.