Drum Roll Please

We got the call.

Mom asked the Boy to put our phone on speaker.  Our phone decided to die instead.

We called back to get the news.  Dr. Law had just called. He had good news. Pathology news.

Drum roll…..

They took 56 lymph nodes, that’s basically all of them from the immediate area.  Of those 56, just 3 showed positive with Cancer.  Of course we wanted 0 – but 3 of 56, that’s a pretty nice ratio. Plus – they’re gone. And since that ratio is so low, combined with the fact they took pretty much everything anywhere close – that means (in my mind anyway) they got them all.

The tumour was contained to the stomach (you know other than those few lymph nodes) it had not spread to the abdominal cavity. That’s great news.

It’s a Stage 3 cancer – that’s because it spread to the lymph nodes. The staging was no surprise, while typically we’re a Stage 1 kind of family – based on what we knew going in, this was basically what we were hoping for.

But overall, the Boy was right.

They got it. She’s Cancer Free. And its all healing and prevention from here out.

The recovery is going slower than she’d like.  We are really appreciative of your continued notes, calls and positive thoughts. If you’re visiting, please keep in mind that Mom is very much recovering and needs a lot of rest. Doctor’s orders. Right now, it’s best to call first to make sure it’s a good day and a good time.

Mom is tired and getting used to eating without a stomach is definitely taking some getting used to. Each day seems to be a little bit better than the one before. And something tells me that this news is going to offer that extra bit of encouragement.

More chemo is on its way – they will definitely want to address those pesky 3 lymph nodes. Those 3 are gone, but they’ll want to make sure there isn’t any stragglers that missed the memo – the party’s over, get out. We’re not sure when that will start, but it should be sometime in December.

For now, a giant exhale and teeny tiny meals are both on the menu.

Message from Mom: “Thanks for all the prayers, positive thoughts, love and friendship – they obviously work!”

Home

An email from Mom this afternoon.

Hi everyone
I am finally home.

The body is an amazing vehicle. We can cut it open, remove parts of it, moves other things around and it doesn’t cry, whimper and get angry. It just gets on with the business of making us whole again.

Now, time for Percs and a nap! Love Carol/Mom

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Welcome home Mom!!!

Or… Not the first OR time

First update – not the first OR time after all.

Wouldn’t want anyone worrying unnecessarily, Mom’s OR time is 1:05 p.m.

So we won’t have an update until later in the afternoon.

Thank you everyone for your kind words and finger crossing.

Looking forward to reporting an all clear tomorrow afternoon.

XOXO

Or… the 22nd

When Mom went to the Surgeon a couple of weeks ago, he told her a couple of things.

1. Absolutely STRICT liquid diet for at least one week before the surgery.

2. The surgery will definitely be either the 23rd or the 25th.

After the pre-op appointment on Friday she learned a few more things

1. The surgery will be at least 3 hours long.

2. Since it will be so long – she will most likely be first – which means starting at 7:45.

3. After the surgery she will be in ICU for at least the first day.

4. The post-op pain management plan is an epidural.

5. The surgery will be on the 22nd… so not the 23rd or 25th.

And the Boy says –  “So on Tuesday, your mom will be cancer free!” 

Yes she will. 

To keep everyone in the loop, I’ll post a post-op update here just as soon as we have something to tell.  Since so many people have subscribed to this little blog – I think this is the fastest and easiest way – you know, short of live-tweeting the play-by-play.

Message from Mom – An epidural? For the first 3, 5 or 7 days? Am I fine with that as a pain management plan? Yes, I’ll take 7 days please. 

 

 

Let’s Talk Shrinkage

Friday is a day Mom has been waiting for 9 fast and slow weeks. Paula is leaving us for a while – that’s right, we’re through the first leg of the relay. The first block of chemo rounds is finished, and we’re waiting for a surgery date.

What else is new? Shrinkage.

That’s right.  It shrinks. Mom had another CT Scan to update the surgeon in a couple weeks.

Drumroll please….

We’re down 2cm.  4.8 to 2.8!!! That’s practically half!

Liver – clear! Lungs – clear! Kidneys – clear! Every major organ you can think of (besides the stomach of course) CLEAR!!

Can I get some big ups!?!

There’s just one small but.

One rogue but actually.

One rogue lymph node.

Was 7mm now 10mm.

BUT since it’s best to bookend bad news with good news – that uncooperative little bastard of a node is right near the shrinking tumour, and will be taken out with the surgery.

So it’s practically ike it’s not there at all… that’s the way I’m looking at it anyway. 🙂

Message from Mom: “It’s the best I could hope for. Now all I have to do is behave myself for the next 4 weeks.”

“Oh Paula I’ll miss you” – said no one ever

Brought to you by the Letter P and the Number 3

Time to learn some numbers and letters.  This post is brought to you by the number 3 – as in the third complication.  In true Mom styles she likes to keep things exciting and never does the same thing twice.

The first – you will recall, was getting the bleeding under control which they did and you can refresh yourself here.

The second – was some slight complications with her check in on Thursday, apparently when she’s out and about town she’s not drinking enough water.  You can’t blame her really, it’s hard to remember to explicitly drink water when you are drinking everything else – or at least you’re supposed to be… that’s another post.  This was only a slight complication since they fixed her right up by giving her a bag of saline to hydrate her before doing their regular check-ups, including changing Paula and flushing her PICC line.  No biggie. Although her Oncologist did say, “Out and about? You need to be at home – resting.”  Perhaps.

But number three, well it deserves it’s own post. It’s number three, and bad things come in threes – and since this is number three, I’m blogging to remind the universe, we’re done.  Okay? Three down.  No more to go.  Got it?  Good.

Moving on.  The post is brought to you by both the number three for the reasons above and the Letter P

P is for Pulmonary Emboli

Okay, so it doesn’t sound good. But don’t worry – we’re under control. Why? Because as you will recall we’re not having it any other way.

The deets:

Mom did not sleep well Saturday night.  She had “vague” pain in her chest, right around her sternum, no matter which way she was lying, and when she was on her back the pain was in the middle of her chest and she could feel it straight through to her back.  Obviously this is not good.  But she’s a quick learner that Mother of mine and this time instead of arguing with people that she was fine, she let Dad take her to the Emergency Room at Southlake… at the reasonable hour of 9:30.  Let’s not get ridiculous and inconvenience anyone too much.

They hooked her up to an ECG to check her heart and ran some blood work, then repeated the blood work 4 hours later to see that it was the same.  There was some blips on the ECG, but it turns out the hook up was slightly off so once they sorted that out it was fine.  And her hemoglobin is at 108 – steadily improving. They debated sending her home.

Her temperature did a little spike, and they decided against the home plan, and instead sent her for another CT scan.  They waited and she sent Dad home to start preparing a birthday dinner for Sista and the Physicist. Always a mother first.

They did the CT Scan and confirmed what she was already thinking by that point, Bilateral Pulmonary Emboli.  For the non-medical among us, that’s tiny blood clots in both of her lungs.  As the Doctor explained, these are quite common when you have cancer they can show up well before the Cancer is found, or during treatment.  Mom said “I know, I’ve been through this with my daughter” I’m telling you – we are really good at Cancer.

The good news is, they found them. And they will treat it.  And they sent her home.  She is now on Lovenox, which is an injection she has to take daily in her stomach.  Lovenox holds the clots together and stops them from traveling to bad places and thins the blood so that it doesn’t clot.  Don’t let the name deceive you – there’s really nothing lovely about it – other than the job it does. For those keeping score, this drug is doing the opposite of what they were giving her last week, which was to stop her from bleeding. Cancer is all about the contradictions.

So that’s where we are.  Injections in her stomach, but no hair loss yet. Yin and Yang. The Lovenox will continue for the duration of the chemo.  And that’s the last of it – because we’re not having it.

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How you can help – Everyone has done so much already.  Thank you really doesn’t quite do it justice.  This week, the neighbours got together and sent a gorgeous flower arrangement – seriously so beautiful.  Thank you.

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Message from Mom – Once she had a diagnosis, one of the nurses said “Well that’s it for bikini season this year.” Mom – What’s a bikini?