It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, mostly because there was little to tell. I have been off of chemotherapy and radiation all this time, about 5 weeks now. On Friday, I sat with my surgical oncologist at UNC, Dr. Calvo. He looked over my MRI that I had the night before and told me the news I had been hoping to hear. He agreed that it was time to go to surgery, and that restarting my chemo would not be in my best interest at this time. The date set for my surgery is Tuesday, December 15th.
The MRI had "difficulty" picking up the rectal tumor, which means that the 14 days of radiation with chemo seems to have been very effective. If you read my previous blog entries, I had mentioned that I was only half way through my treatment when my hospital stay put them to a stop. So to have such significant results, and then to find myself going to surgery before having to complete that round of treatment seems nothing short of a miracle to me. And the liver tumor shrunk as well, though I forgot to ask him by how much. During surgery, the doctor hopes to remove the rectal tumor, remove the lowest section of my colon, fry the liver tumor with some electrodes, and biopsy some of the small lesions in my liver to determine if there is more cancer there. Each of these procedures has unique challenges. The first is in removing my rectal tumor, the doctor hopes to save my vagina and uterus, but not at the cost of leaving cancer behind. The location of my tumor is near enough to those areas that there is a possibility that all of the above mentioned may be removed. The second is in removing my colon, what remains will be reattached to my rectum. This reattachment poses the most likely complication. If all does not go well, my hospital stay may be longer than the expected 5 to 7 days. A common complication in this procedure is that stool might leak out. However, given I have an ileostomy; this might be hard to detect in me. Recall from my other entry that I still pass stool naturally, even though I have a bag, in the form of mucous, and colon and rectal wall shedding. The third procedure will be that the tumor in my liver will be fried. And Takashi recalls the doctor telling us that it will be gone most definitely with this process, though I don't recall such a guarantee being made. Let's pray that Takashi is right. I have a big concern with the last procedure. Please pray that if there is any cancer in the small lesions in my liver, that the cancerous lesions are biopsied. I have a high quantity of lesions. My fear is that the doctor biopsies healthy lesions and leaves cancerous lesions behind. My hope is that EVERYTHING will be removed and NOTHING is left behind. Of course I will be returning for tests, I believe every 6 months for years to come. And I will also undergo more chemotherapy. So if something is missed, we should catch it down the road. But certainly, I don't want to ever hear a diagnosis that I am positive for cancer ever again!
For those who want to know, I will be staying at UNC-Chapel Hill NC Memorial Hospital starting Dec 15th and remaining there for 5 to 7 days after surgery, barring no complications, before I go home to Fort Bragg. There is a link for the hospital on this blog on the right side column. My recovery at home I'm told will be lengthy. I was told to expect to be in bed for a good six weeks.
So am I scared? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. But I am hopeful. The other day I did read a story of a friend whose mother lost her 10 yr battle with ovarian cancer. I don't want that to be my story. So I deeply thank all of those who are praying for me and sending me their positive thoughts. Please continue to do so.
Thank you for following my blog. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday season. God Bless.