The Diagnosis
That larger tragedy,the one that has ruled our lives ever since, began in April of the next year when I noticed a lingering cough.  My gynocologist diagnosed it as pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic.  When the cough didn't improve and and a fleshy spot developed on the right side of my back, I went to our family doctor, Dr. John Wood, who immediately ordered an x-ray that revealed a suspicious-looking mass in the lower lobe of my right lung.  The x-ray was followed by a CT scan, and on May 23th Dr. Wood told us there is a high probability of lung cancer.  He scheduled an appointment with a pulmonary specialist, Dr. Pedro Paes, who set up a bronoscopy (inserting a tube through the nose to collect material from the lung for a biopsy).  The bronoscopy failed to produce useable results, and I was scheduled for a medistinoscopy in which the sugeon would open a small slit in my throat and insert a catheter to collect material from the mediastinium, or the area of the between the lungs.  Depending on the results, this would be followed by surgery.  This procedure was scheduled for July 3, 1995, with Dr. Ogden as surgeon.

The results confirmed our worst fears.  Not only was the mediastinal fluid positive, meaning cancer was present and had already spread locally around the lung, it was all through my right lung .   This made a resection of the main tumor useless: they just closed me back up.  Kendall told me how Dr. Ogden sat with him after the surgery and just shook his head and said, "It's really bad."  He gave me six to eighteen months to live, though Kendall didn't tell me that until after I had gotten through those eighteen months.    

Jivesh Sharma
Jivesh Sharma, M.D.
I met Dr. Jivesh Sharma while still convalescing in the hospital, and after I was released two weeks we made our first office visit with him and radiologist, Dr. Gilbert, at the Richardson Cancer Clinic.  I have come to respect Dr. Sharma very much over the ensuing years, both his skill and strong empathy with patients, but on that visit he was uncompromising: "There is no cure," he said.  New Treatment protocols could extend my life by as much as five years, and the goal of cancer treatment is no longer to cure, rather it is to extend a high quality of life.  He and Dr. Gilbert recommended starting with radiation and light chemotherapy.  When I had all the radiation my body could absorb I would switch to a more aggressive combination of Taxol plus Carboplatin.  Of course, they would closely monitor my progress.

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