Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ode to the Colon Stent

Yesterday was my ninth chemo and I intended to take the camera with me. But, since my infusion was scheduled at 8:30, meaning we had to leave at 7:30 because of traffic, it was too early for me to remember. Why would I want to take the camera to chemo, one may ask? Because of the sculpture.

A sculpture was created and erected at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center which is immediately adjacent to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The view from the fifth floor infusion clinic looks out over Lake Union and ecapsulates yachts and sail boats and "the sculpture." I never knew the name of the sculpture until today as I was looking online for photos. I forgot the camera to take a picture of it for my blog so I had to find it online which I did.

Evidently, the sculpture named the "Vessel," was put in place a couple of years ago but was destroyed in one of our windstorms. It was rebuilt and restored in September. I noticed it right away because I always look out the windows of SCCA toward the water while we wait.

"Dave, Dave---LOOK at that! Hmmmmm," I poked him to look up from his papers.

"Huh. Has it always been there?" he wondered.

"Nope. It is new. But doesn't it look like my colon stent? Why would they put up a sculpture that looks like a colon stent right outside a cancer center? Isn't that what it looks like?" I was rather astounded. Dave is the research guy and he has read the articles and seen the pictures online about colon stents. You see, they do not exactly know what to do with mine, now. They are relatively new and usually taken out during a colon surgery to remove a tumor. My colon tumor is gone so there are no plans for me to have colon surgery.

"My Gawd. Yes, that is exactly what is inside your abdomen," replied my dear husband.

How the colon stent works is it is inserted in a collapsed form and then it expands to create an opening. When Tum the tumor was as big as a baseball and blocking my system, I needed the stent to push him aside so my food from the previous day could get through. The biggest problem I have is that my body knows the colon stent is yet another foreign object and after I go to the bathroom, my body tries to push out the stent for a couple of hours giving me uncomfortable and downright painful cramps. I have had two babies without epidurals or even Tylenol and there are days, beleive me, when I feel I am giving birth. Sorry for the graphics but....!

Last Tuesday, when I saw my sliced up abdomen on the results of my CT scan, I was able to see my stent for the first time. Indeed, it looked just like "the sculpture." So, I asked my oncologist a question he has never had before from one of his patients. "Dr. Back, why did they put up a sculpture of a colon stent right in front of the cancer center? I do not think it is the least bit fun at all to see it every time I come here." He laughed--and laughed.

"I do believe some gastroenterologists have noticed the very same thing," he responded. Here it is folks:

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Artist's conceptual photo by Ed Carpenter

"Vessel" is specifically designed to mirror the mission and goals of the Center. Carpenter writes, "This monumental but delicate sculpture employs light to represent the optimistic spirit of the institution."

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Night View

Here is an actual photo taken at night by the Portland newspaper, the Oregonian. The artist, Ed Carpenter is from Portland. If I had taken a photo, it would have had Lake Union in the background but, oh well--at least I learned something about it with Google.

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An Actual Colon Stent

And above is a lovely picture of exactly what I saw in my lower belly on my CT scan. Perhaps the sculpture is aptly named. Certainly, it is a pass through vessel but there is nothing---nothing "delicate" about it.

Now I ask all of you readers, is the sculpture a monument to light and optimism? Or is it a four story replica of Janet's colon stent? I know my answer, for sure!