We met with a surgeon yesterday & a medical oncologist today… exhausting, but informative. And encouraging, in a round about sort of way. It was just good to have someone reassure us that the weeks in between the CT scan & the proposed treatment options are not long enough for the cancer cells to run rampant through his body. once you hear the words “aggressive cancer cells,” you have visions of nasty little disease cells inching upward through the lymphatic system & invading matt’s organs. Both doctors said that they would be surprised if the 2 enlarged lymph nodes grew significantly in the next few weeks… not ruling out the possibility of a little growth, but it isn’t a major concern.
That said, we are thinking (somewhat sure) that we will proceed with a Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection (removal of the enlarged lymph nodes) on May 4 at Barnes Jewish Hospital. This will be a laparoscopic procedure in order to minimize the invasiveness of the surgery- an open dissection is a very large incision, much greater recovery time, etc. There are risks with each- we’re looking into those, but this seems preferable at this time.
The literature we have read & the 3 doctors we have spoken with seem to concur on most all of the questions we have, which is VERY reassuring- who wants to make a judgment call about treatments that doctors don’t agree on? The best option seems to be to follow surgery with 2 rounds of chemotherapy (which type of drugs will be involved is still under discussion) in order to reduce the chance of recurrence of the cancer cells to almost 0%. We like that math: Surgery + 2 chemo treatments= 99% chance of COMPLETE cure: good numbers! On the other side- chemo will likely make him somewhat sick if not very sick, so if we chose not to do it after the surgery, there is an option to treat by “surveillance.” This means lots of blood work, CT scans, & appointments. Surveillance opens the door to a 20% chance of recurrence, which would then lead to 6 rounds of chemo. Not good numbers- like i said, chemo will not be a picnic & we’d like to limit it to 2 treatments & be done with this crap!
We are still going to see a different medical oncologist next week (monday) for another opinion & to consolidate all of matt’s treating physicians to Barnes Jewish. 1) It simplifies the transfer of paperwork between hospitals, 2) it increases the chances of the doctors communicating thoroughly & working well together, and 3) it puts matt’s treatment in one of the best hospitals in America (also closest to our home).
there are still outstanding questions- I think we come up with new questions all the time. And there is still fear of the disease as well as the treatment. And there are lots of questions about the future- the impact the surgery & chemo will have on matt’s last semester of seminary, how this will affect his long term health, how this could impact the number of children in our family… and we are still processing how we communicate with each other and how we bring this before the Lord. I think we are much better than we were last week at this time- more answers, less shock, more reassurance, less paralyzing fear. We really feel surrounded by our family, friends & community. And we have the cutest, most amazing children ever, which doesn’t hurt. And we celebrated the living Christ on Sunday- a deep & powerful Love for us that is over every dark & nasty thing we are dealing with. Christ isn’t changing the facts of the cancer in matt’s body- Christ is changing our hearts to hope & trust in His Good-ness through all of this. It doesn’t hurt less, but we know God is acting behind & in & through everything. (Please remind me that i said this- i am sure to forget on a regular basis).
Thank you for all your calls, notes, e-mails, flowers & cookies. Thank you most of all for your prayers- it is really amazing to be on the receiving end of such incredible care. i hope that we love all of you as well as you have loved us.