Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Playing the Waiting Game

It's been 2-1/2 months since the diagnosis, and it's been pretty much of a waiting game.  Honey had to have CT scans of the lungs, abdomen, pelvis and whole body bone scan done.  He had to have a lot of blood tests done.  He had an appointment with the oncologist, who said that the CT scans showed an area on his right femur (thigh bone) with enhanced signal, so he wanted to get an MRI.  There was some inflammation in the lymph nodes in the groin that were "of concern" so he thought that Honey might need to have a lymph node dissection, which is removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin to see if there is cancer there.  That is a major surgery with a difficult and often complicated recovery period and can cause lifelong problems with swelling in the legs, so that was NOT good news.  However, after talking to the surgeon, who said there had been a lot of inflammation in the area of the surgery, they decided to put Honey on a course of antibiotics and repeat the scan in 6 weeks.  So we waited.  

It turns out that the increased signal intensity on his thigh bone is probably a bone cyst, which is not a concerning finding, and six weeks later, the lymph nodes had returned to normal, so no lymph node surgery was recommended. 

So the question remaining is what to do now?  There few studies on this cancer because it is rare in this country, and Honey's case is not typical.  Usually, chemotherapy and/or radiation is given first to shrink the tumor, then surgery is done, the cancer is removed, and if there is no spread, follow up is with CT scans every 6 months for 2 years to check for recurrence.  If the cancer has spread, it is generally fatal, but they can do chemotherapy to slow it down.  In Honey's case, the surgery had to be done immediately because of the size of the tumor and the incredible pain he was in.   

Now, the problem is that the oncologist isn't sure what to do in terms of radiation and chemo, since there are no precedents for doing chemotherapy after surgery when there is no spread to other organs.  So he is sending Honey to the University of Michigan to see an oncologist and radiation oncologist for their opinions.   That will probably happen the first week in May ... so we wait some more. 

In the meantime, Honey's wound is not completely healed yet, but it is getting close.  As of this week, I no longer have to pack the wound and he just needs a small dressing to cover the open area.  

The best part is, he says he feels better than he has in years, and in so many respects, it's been wonderful to have him back to his old self ... even with the chemo stuff still hanging over his head.  We've been able to do things together again, like go to a movie, or out to eat, or even just a drive or run errands together.  Things he couldn't do because the pain was too unbearable.  We've been taking advantage of that while we can before he starts chemo and will have to be careful about being in crowds for a while. 

I have to admit, I'm afraid of the chemo, though.  My dad had cancer and it wasn't the cancer that killed him, it was the chemo, which suppressed his immune system and allowed an infection in his leg to run rampant.  He started complaining of pain in his leg on a Sunday evening and 36 hours later died of septic shock because the infection spread so fast the antibiotics just couldn't get in front of it.  That scares me ... a lot.  

But I'm trying not to borrow trouble and not worry about it too much until I have to. 

I'm getting kind of good at that. 

Until next time ... 



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