Friday, December 31, 2010


I get a lot of questions about the upcoming Chemotherapy and Radiation.  I am certainly no expert yet on this but will continue to learn.  This is what I know so far.  Chemotherapy is given IV and takes about 3 hours to administer.  Often the patient is given a MediPort surgically implanted to make this IV access easier.  I will be given 2 types of chemo drug together.  One drug hits the cancer cell from one angle and the other chemo drug hits it from another angle.  The intent is to kill cancer cells whereby "shrinking" the area of involvement.  Chemo is done in "cycles".  A cycle for me is 3 weeks.  So I will get this chemo every 3 weeks.   We will do 2-3 cycles and then do another PET scan to see if it is working.  If they are not happy (ready for surgery), then the chemo continues longer.  There is no clear defining line when this will stop.  The downsize to chemo is it attacks good cells also which causes your white blood count to go down.  This can make you weak, nausea and vomiting, your immune system low. Generally, this "low" period last few days to a week and then you start to regenerate.  After you regenerate at 3 weeks, they hit you with another dose and it starts all over again.  This is by design.

Radiation is used in specific part of body.  So when we shrink my cancer, then later radiation will most likely be used to further kill cancer cells in a smaller isolated area. 

After cancer shrinks, the plan is to have surgery followed by more chemo and more radiation.    I hope this helps a little.  The chemo is done in the doctors office.


I have been overwhelmed with friends and family calling me, emailing me, texting me, sending cards, etc.  I truly appreciate this.  Trust me, I in no way want anyone to stop this!  I am adding a line of communication since I am not always capable of getting back with some of you.  I also anticipate days, weeks where I may not feel up to calling or communicating.  At a very good suggestion of the Fire Chief, I have selected a Firefighter to disemiate information to the FD guys and families.  The individual that I have selected knows me very well and accepted this role to help me.  This individual is Brock Murphy.  I will communicate very regularly with Brock who will keep everyone at the FD up to date.  I will share a lot of personal information that the guys want to know.  I still welcome our conversations but Brock will be a great help to me.  Brock also will be attending the first Chemotherapy appointment with me on Friday January 7.  This way, as I am being educated, Brock can help me remember everything I forget.  The Chemo treatments typically last 3 hours so Brock will also entertain me! lol.  So guys from the FD, PD, Other FD's feel free to ask Brock questions.  If he does not know he will try to find out.

A friend of mine (Al) made a suggestion.  He suggested that I explain that my condition (Cancer) is not related to any lifestyles.  For example, I do not smoke and have never used tobacco products.  Most of you know me well enough that I do not smoke or drink.

I have mentioned before that Heidi and I will be leaving on Monday Jan 3 for New Orleans to attend the Sugar Bowl, which has been paid for by the guys from the Kent FD!  I also had a visit from 2 police officers yesterday whom delivered a sizeable amount of cash for spending money in New Orleans collected by the Dispatchers and Police Officers!  It looks like Heidi might get some good seafood also!  Thanks guys and gals from the PD!  You have no idea how much this means.  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Second Opinions

Yesterday was a very long day!  Heidi and I went to see Dr. Eric Espinal a Thoracic surgeon at Akron City Hospital.  This man is a proffessional!  I am so glad I was directed towards him!  Thanks Ginny and Beth for this.  Dr. Espinal confirmed the information that I was given by the first surgeon.  The cancer is in esophagus and outside of esophagus in the Lymph Nodes.  He also believes that it is in part of stomach.  Dr. Espinal said the cancer is too wide spread now to do surgery.  Surgery would be waste of time.  He said I need Chemotherapy to shrink the cancer to a manageable size to remove it.  He said at least 2-3 cycles of chemo would be necessary.  He also confirmed that if we get to surgery, it would be difficult surgery.  If stomach has to come out then he would have to move a section of small intestine up to do that role. 

Then we traveled immediately to Dr. Frederick Marquinez office in Akron.  After me getting undressed and completely all the paperwork, we found out that Dr. Marquinez was in his other office.  We quickly got dressed and rushed to his other office.  The staff there stayed past their closing time to accomodate.  Dr. Marquinez spent 2 hours with me examing and trying to tell me everything possible to prepare me for chemo and what to expect.  He said he will use two different chemo drugs in combination that attack the cancer cells from different angles.  The big problem is the chemo not only kills cancer cells but also good cells like white blood cells.  So, most likely I will have significant dips in my white count and be very weak.  May also be anemic.  He said usually this condition last no more than a week.  Then you get better and they hit you again with more chemo and the process starts all over.  Needless to say the chemo will not be any fun either.  I will be getting a MediPort put in, but not till right before the second cycle of chemo.  He does not want to delay the chemo waiting on the MediPort.  If you are not familiar with MediPorts, it is IV access that is surgically placed in your chest usually and that way you don;t have to get IV in arm everytime you go in. 

So, keep praying, please!  Heidi and I will be traveling to New Orleans to attend the Sugar Bowl (Ohio State and Arkansas) provided to us by the guys at the Fire Department.  All expenses paid!  We are so grateful for this.  The guys at the FD said this is a little getaway and then I will be ready to come back and kick the cancer's ass!  Thanks guys! (crying again)

Friday, December 24, 2010

I am so Lucky!

I am so lucky to have the friends and family that I do.  I cannot begin to tell you the phone calls, txt messages, emails, cards that I have received in the past couple of days.  Heidi has not even had a chance to talk to me, haha.  Yesterday was a very bad day for me.  I was very down.......finally let my emotions get the best of me.  Cried most of the day.  I was due for that, I guess.  Having more pain in my epi-gastric area that radiates into my upper back.  More trouble swallowing as well.  Sounds like soup today.  I actually hate soup even since I had a surgery in 1998 and had to eat soup for 3 weeks.  haha

I sent an email to Dan Ellenberger at University Hospitals.  Danny use to be an Aurora Firefighter and I explained my condition.  Danny the same day sent me a response from the President of the hospital naming the best esophageal cancer surgeon and team at UH.  I will be calling them today and try to schedule a consult.  UH is the northeast Ohio leader in cancer care at their Ireland Cancer Center.  I appreciate Danny's help.

I am learning that some of my friends still don't know, so feel free to tell anyone that you think may want to know.  I do not have any secretts. 

I love all of you and I mean that! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don Beckett Medical Update

On December 15th, 2010 I was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer.  This is a very bad cancer because the esophagus does not have a protective lining to contain the cancer.  Their is a tumor in my esophagus that is growing also and narrowing which causes trouble swallowing.

On December 20, 2010, I had a PET Scan and CT Scan.  The PET scan you get injected a radioactive glucose in high concentration.  This glucose travels to the cancer cells.  Then a scan is done which takes 3 hours.  The scan revealed my cancer is my Lymph Nodes.  This is not good.

On December 22, 2010, I had a surgical consult with Dr. Ghumari a thoracic surgeon. He had reviewed my PET scan.  He did not give me good news.  His opinion, we should not do surgery now.  If he removes the esophagus now, the cancer is already out of there and spreading.  He believes I should start Chemotherapy immediately for 2-3 months to try to kill cancer cells in Lymph Nodes.  Then if this works, do a very complicated surgery to remove bottom half of esophagus and move stomach up to re-attached to esophagus in my neck area.  A blood supply would need routed from my neck to supply this area.  Often complications after surgery of the esophagus leaking.  Difficult to re-attach.    Dr. Ghumari states without any treatment I would have 6 months to 1 year to live.  With treatment, may extend this 3-5 years.

I have another surgery consult on Dec 29th with Dr. Eric Espinal a thoracic surgeon at Akron City.  Very highly recommended.

On December 30th, I have a consult with Oncologist.