Saturday, September 29, 2012

Green light the production

Friday was a long day. The traffic was expectantly gnarly.
We went to Stanford and met up with the surgeon, after he reviewed the most recent CT scan I had. Doctors wanted to see what the status of the tumor was with regards to positioning with some vascular tissue, as Toomie is nudged up against some major veins and arteries.

The surgeon had some wonderful things to say:
  1. We can operate in conjunction with a vascular surgeon as they need to reconstruct my veins and/or arteries during the procedure.
  2. It's excellent news that the tumor markers decreased another 30%.
  3. The Pylorus-Preserving Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple Procedure) wouldn't involve removing the entire pancreas, and he'll only need to remove a little bit of my stomach (at this point, these are good things given the fact that about only 15-20% of people diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma are eligible for surgery).
He also said some relatively spooky shit:
  • If the blood loss is too significant in the event there is significant vascular reconstruction during the surgery I could die.
This is the first time I've ever heard "you could die" from a doctor. I've never had any major health problems. Not even a broken bone. The extent of my surgical history prior to all this involves some stitches on some cut fingers.

During the meeting with the surgeon I indicated I wanted to proceed with surgery, so I then was told I need to do another CT + Angiogram study in order to provide the vascular surgeon some insight into my inner workings. My wife and I ended up staying around Stanford until the scan, which was scheduled for 4:30. We grabbed some lunch, where we had some fabulously presented jasmine tea.
We then popped by the Apple Store and charged our phones, browsed some nearby stores, and finally it was time to head over to the imaging center. While charging up the surgeon's office doing the Whipple called and scheduled my surgery. The folks at the imaging facility were downright lovely to work with, and my nurse was able to access my port as opposed to trying to stick me 5 times to get a peripheral IV going. I was truly thankful for this little nugget of goodness. I then ran through the scan without any hitches, and the wife and I foolishly hopped on the road at 5:20 leaving Stanford. It took us about 2 hours to get home. The trip reminded me of my former daily commute to eBay from home. Ah, glorious traffic. I love how you can take hours away from our life and ask for nothing in return but fatter guts, bigger asses, and more burned fuel. I digress.

I go back to Stanford next week to meet with the vascular surgeon, discuss the recent scan and the forthcoming surgery, and then I'll meet with some folks to "map my veins". I'll likely donate some during the reconstruction. Come mid-October I check in for operation. I'll likely be in the hospital for 7-10 days afterwards.

The date is set. It's going to be some brutal recovery, but this procedure is curative in nature. I'll need to do some chemo after I recover from going under the knife, too, so it'll be quite a journey. I'm very happy to be on this path.

Thanks to all our family and friends helping us out. We could not be going through this without your assistance and love.


Walking Eagle said...

What wonderful news!! I am so happy for you and your family. I can only hope to have the same type of conversation with a surgeon someday myself. CONGRATULATIONS!

creativechumscrubber said...

Do you need blood donations on your behalf?

jill said...

This is great news!!!! Your "hulk like" powers continue to inspire us!
jill and glen

Sherry Fredrick said...

Great news!! So happy to hear it my hulk-ish friend!

elabastida said...

Kick ass like a sea bass buddy. I think of you all daily.

elabastida said...

if you need blood let me know 702.275.7617

Jromi said...

Thank you all for the supportive words. I'll find out about the blood and whether or not I need to bring in my own stock from you lovely volunteers.

SeaBee said...

Congrats! Fabulous! My thoughts will be with you! Love your spirit & fight - similar to my husband. He too got 'mixed' test results - CA 19-9 dropped in half (to 7400, a ways to go), liver mets shrunk, no lung blood clots (they were teeny, but still, good riddance). But his tumor too didn't seem to have shrunk much, & also is blocking at least 1 vein. So here's to both of your toomies dissapating & your successful surgery. You rock!
Thanks for the nice shoutout - didn't know if I'd successfully left a comment.
All best wishes, Carol B. from Concord MA

SeaBee said...

Yay! Congrats! It will be a long & hard road to hoe, but seems like you're up to hoeing. My husband had a similar result, funnily enough. Tumor marker dropped 50% (yay), liver mets shrunk (yay), lungs clear of pesky teeny clots (yay). But the stupid primary tumor seemed similar in size. His doc thinks that 4 Folfirinox rounds really only reflect progress thru the 3rd, since the CT was 1 week after the 4th chemo & it can take a couple of weeks or more to see progress. So I'm optimistic & positive for him, & sending very positive thoughts & energy your way too. Just don't lose your sense of humor! All best wishes to you & your family, Carol B. in Concord, MA.

SeaBee said...

PS: my husband's tumor is also blocking a vein or maybe 2, leading to fluid buildup in his abdomen (very happily, NOT the dreaded malignant ascites - the fluid doesn't have cancer cells). His docs believe (or at least truly hope) that it will shrink so that the vein will no longer be impacted - but will take a while longer. I guess it took a while to grow, so will take a bit more time to die. But hope your Toomie's demise is swift! (we've taken to referring to it as Toomie too, or Toomie2, thx!). Best, Carol in MA

Jromi said...

Walking Eagle, I'm sure you're going to get some good news soon. Hang in there.

Carol, here's to Toomie's demise in whatever form it takes.

Susan Shimamura said...

The news about your surgery is brilliant!! You WILL be healthy again!! I laughed about your "golden nugget" as I recall my own experience with the numerous needles pricks each time. And, a heavy sigh of relief whenever that one nurse walked in....who could always get it on the first try. I was foolish and didn't get a port. Not sure of your blood type, but if you need any... or anything else, just ask.