This probably falls into the category of information that cancer patients would rather not know about. However, if you find yourself either dealing with the aftermath of a blood clot, DVT (deep-vein thrombosis) , or PE (pulmonary thrombosis) or suspecting that you might have one– ignorance is NOT bliss. Any one of these constitutes a life-threatening situation– all require IMMEDIATE medical attention.

What John and I did not understand until he came within minutes of dying from a pulmonary embolism is this: having cancer predisposes you to blood clots. Having cancer and just having had major surgery ups the risk still more. Cancer patients who have had major surgery and recover in the intensive care unit have the added risk factor of being bedbound; they cannot walk or use their leg muscles, which further predisposes the formation of clots.

To learn what we learned through hard experience, about blood clots, IVC  filters and the many other decisions of a colon cancer patient’s life that could not (until the publication of this book) be understood except in retrospect–  I’ve taken a year of my life to put it all down in an easily accessible format that can be read from your computer, Ipad, Ipod Touch, Blackberry or whatever–- available on Amazon:

Through reading this chapter, you will become aware that an IVC filter is not always the easy fix it appears to be, and is in fact fraught with its own set of undesirable complications.

One simple question was my guidepost and motivation in writing this book: how can what we learned be helpful to other cancer patients? My sole goal has been to use our experience to lessen the suffering of others who follow in our footsteps. The result is one family’s experience illuminated by years of personal research and contemplation aimed at answering the unanswered questions that our doctors would/could never address.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the support of the 400 monks, nuns and yogis in the seven Tibetan monasteries of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, who have devoted their lives towards building the foundation for peace and freedom from suffering for all beings in this world.


About surfingon

I live in Hawaii. I surf in the winter and swim in the summer. I have been a hospice volunteer with a contemplative-care oriented hospice for 25 years have been part of their team that trains new volunteers for the last 9 years. I have walked the colon cancer path with my beloved husband these past 5 years. He died very peacefully in April 2009. I now seek to share what we learned, to shed light on the many dark corners of this often mystifying, heartbreaking and heart-opening journey.
This entry was posted in cancer treatments, side effects of cancer treatments and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kerry says:

    oh my goodness. I just read your article. My husband suffers from liver cancer. I year ago, they discovered a PE, which riginated from a large cot in his left thigh, and then lung cancer was discovered. They placed an IVC filter. He had been undergoing various emboliizations to reduce the liver tumors and now the swelling in the left leg and belly is out of control I really don’t know what to do at this point. I had already questioned every doctor involved in his health care about the possibility of the filter being clogged and they agreed there was a good possibility but didn’t suggest anything. My husband in on Fragmin (Dalteparin).

    • surfingon says:

      Kerry, I am so very sorry that you and your husband are experiencing the same heartbreak that we did with the complications from the IVC filter. John’s doctors also pretty much abdicated on his symptoms.

      One of the avenues we explored was manual lymphatic drainage, which is a very specialized type of massage that requires extra training and certification. I was only able to find two of these therapists on our island, and the one who worked with our HMO was not willing to work on John because of the blood clots– the other said that she would be willing to try and seemed more experienced, but the interface with our HMO was a big obstacle, so we did not succeed with a referral.

      Since manual lymphatic massage was the only possibility I could find that I thought might help with the horrifying swelling, I decided that I would try a very light version of it myself. I found some instructional tutorials online and tried the technique out on John, with my fingers just barely stroking his skin. I’ll never know whether it was that, or whether his strong immune system kicked in, but the swelling did begin to recede gradually, to the point that it became a background issue.

      If you can find a qualified massage therapist (both of the ones I found worked for hospitals in the physical therapy department), you might want to explore this modality. Our thinking was that we were at least trying to do something to alleviate John’s discomfort, which was more than we could say for his medical team in this instance.

      My heart goes out to you.

      Blessings on your journey,

  2. Frances says:

    I had a very large blood clot 10 years ago and 8 years ago had a filter placed in groin. The past year I have pain on groin and swelling in ankle in same leg and veins protruding in that leg only. Very painful at times. Got any ideas on what it could be?

    • surfingon says:

      Check out the comment from Kerry on this blog entry, and my reply to that comment. The surgeon/radiologist who put in your filter should have exoplained all the possible complications of having an IVC filter– sounds like you’re experiencing one of the known complications. Suggest you consult with that radiologist or anothe experienced interventional radiologist. If he tells you nothing can be done, refer back again to my reply to Kerry.
      Best wishes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s