Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cleared for Surgery - March 3rd 2009

Karen's doing great. We met with Dr Moriarty on Monday, and Dr Chamberlain today. They've spoken and are in agreement that based on Karen's most recent PET scan, she's cleared for surgery.

They are hard men to read but I get the impression they're both pretty amazed at how well Karen has done. Her tumors are still active but barely and perfect for resection. After ~18 months of uphill emotional and physical battle, Karen's gone from terminal cancer to having a possible curative surgery.

Surgery has been tentatively scheduled for the 3rd of March at St Barnabus [LINK] in Livingston. The good Doctor Chamberlain was named in the Top Docs 2008 list [LINK] so that's encouraging.

Surgery will not be easy, as we know. The idea is to open up K's existing scar and possibly elongate it. There will likely be scar tissue from the old surgery which will complicate the procedure. The plan is to remove Karen's right liver lobe and either cut out or ablate the tumors on the left lobe. Her gall bladder will come out and possible 10-12 inches of colon, along with lymph nodes and other sundry items. They'll do an intra-operative ultrasound to be sure every thing's removed and then sew her back up.

There's also a possibility that the procedure will need to be done in 2 surgeries instead of one. The doctor won't know until he gets in there. In the event of two surgeries, the first would actually tie off the right lobe but not remove it. This will trigger growth in the left lobe. Karen would come home and after 2-3 weeks the left lobe would be big enough. They'd go in and remove the right, leaving the larger left. Make sense?

Assuming one surgery, Karen'll be in hospital between 7-14 days.

Between now and the 3rd will be another colonoscopy, one more Erbitux, some pre-admissions tests, Chamberlain and Moriarty visits and likely some pre-operative prep.

The surgery is not without risk, both doctors have said they would not attempt this on a sixty year old woman, but we know what to expect and are ready for whatever comes.

"No Evidence of Disease" does not mean "no disease", it just means no visible tumors. There's also the chance of a recurrence after surgery but Karen's been off chemo since July 2008 with no new tumors appearing so this is a good indicator. If there were tumor cells ready to grow they have had time to do so.

The goal is to have Karen leave the operating room, visibly cancer free. As doctor Chamberlain put it, that would indeed be a true miracle. No one has worked harder for it than Karen.