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Cancer type (NET):Carcinoid
How I survive cancer:
My name is Gene Abbott and this is my story.
I have been fighting carcinoid cancer since at least 1987. It started with constant diarrhea for over a year and it took that long to figure out what was going on. The doctors were baffled and they made me feel like I was crazy. During that year they treated me for a lot of different things even giardia. We do a lot of camping and they thought maybe I had gotten into some bad water.
I have been very lucky to have three great doctors taking care of me. Our family doctor, Dr. Patt, was the one who finally figured out what was going on. While in his office the rest of the symptoms hit like a ton of bricks came down on me, the flushing started my blood pressure went real high followed by the stomach cramping that had I been standing would have brought me to my knees. He put it all together and remembered something about it from medical school. He had me do a 24 hr urine keep and when the tests came back my serotonin level was at 46 parts and normal should be less than 6 parts. He referred me to Dr. Zemel an endocrinologist who put me on the Sandostatin therapy. I started on 3 injections a day and within a week I started feeling better and the symptoms had subsided. I had one major side effect in the first year and had to have my gallbladder removed.
At that time they took a biopsy of the tumors on my liver and confirmed it was carcinoid. The doctor in the hospital came in to go over my chart and told me I had 2 years to live if I was lucky. He told me this in front of my wife and family. I was in shock at first, then I got mad and decided he was wrong. I still had too much to do in this life. About 5 weeks after my surgery I was in a 5K race for Cancer Awareness and I beat that doctor in that race and I have not looked back since. I have stayed with Dr. Zemel and his honesty and compassion has helped me a lot over the years.
In January 2001 I had the worst spell I have ever had. I was in the hospital for 5 days and when I got out the doctors said I had worked my last day and put me on disability. At that point I started going to an oncologist by the name of Dr. Fisher. He helps keep me going. I see him once a week for IV fluids to keep me hydrated. In 2002 we did an 8-month treatment of heavy-duty chemo to shrink some of the tumors in my intestines. This really took a toll on me and it took about a year to come back, not as strong but back. The treatments help me to live my life to the fullest.
I now live with a 4-5-pain level each day on a scale of 10. I have learned how to cope with the pain and all the medication I have to take on a daily basis. My wife read somewhere to help handle pain to pick a place in your mind and go there and breath through the pain. I go to Wolf Creek Pass in the Colorado Rockies and look out over the valley and watch an eagle soaring. This helps me to control my pain most of the time.
How I fight for a cure:
I know I will beat this cancer, my prostate cancer, and diabetes. I am a Viet Nam Veteran and if I can survive that I can survive just about anything. I am a person who thinks the mind is the strongest weapon we have to help overcome adversity in our life. We just have to let it work for us. I spend as much time traveling and camping with my wife of 33 years and our dogs as I can and I hope to be able to do it for a very long time.