Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Full Tale - Consultation at the Tom Baker Center

Now that we have a reliable internet connection again, here is the full update.

Last night we stayed in Calgary, at a hotel near the hospital and the cancer center.  Needless to say it wasn't the most restful sleep; we've been both dreading and anticipating  meeting with the experts there, so  sleep proved elusive.

We got there first thing in the morning, and didn't have long to wait. We were soon shown into an examination room and met one of the doctors there that will be assisting.  They always  seem to start with the same question -- "So what do you know?"  which tends to send me into mental fits. But, as Chris put it, they want to make sure what information you have and which they will still have to cover.

They were very happy to get my CT scan and the rest of my records, as we'd brought a copy of all of them along. We HAD sent them a copy by courier last week, and it was signed for at the center, but it was nowhere to be found.  We found that having a copy of all tests/ records on hand was invaluable, as it cut down significantly on time; with the full information at hand they were able to get down to business.

After meeting me, examining  me and getting to see the CT scan (finally!) she proceeded to tell us all about the surgery ( the famous MOAS).  She was very patient in answering all the questions we had ( we'd brought two pages, neatly typed... just in case we might forget something) and in trying to explain the risks involved vs. the benefits.

In a nutshell, mine is the aggressive adenocarcinoma type, BUT its low grade... that means that although its actively spreading there is also time to tackle it, and with the operation and HIPEC there is a chance I'll be around in 10 years. And hey, in those 10 years, what other treatments might there be? Some people are cancer free at the 10 year mark, so I'm REALLY hoping for that one. The statistics of  survival without the surgery are fairly scary, so  hearing that I WAS a good candidate for it was amazing.

The dr. brought in doctor T., who was very straightforward but also really reassuring.  Within the next week we should know what the surgery date is, and the actually surgery should  take place in about 4-6 weeks. Why the wait? Well, they have a HUGE team of people that all have to be present during the entire thing, and the average for this type of surgery is of about 12 + hours. Additionally, since I had surgery at RCH not that long ago they need to wait long enough that the internal adhesions have healed; this will give me better chances of success all around.

The surgery is major; there's a minor risk of morbidity , and a 10% risk that they might get in there, find that it has contaminated organs that are vital and cannot be removed... in which case they'd have to close me back up and do nothing. BUT, as stated,  I have been pretty good about beating the odds in the past... this better be one too! :_)

It looks like surgery will -likely- be in late May, early June; organs WILL have to be removed, but they are in theory all non-essential ones. The idea being that they will carve out all the cancer they can, add in the chemo soup  to get rid of any rogue cancer cells left.  THe CT scan often doesn't show the extent of the disease, so they will only know for sure the ones that need to come out once I"m on the table.  The ones that we know will have to be out:  ovary, uterus, spleen, part of colon, omentum, gallbladder, peritoneum(?) .
The ones that they think might possibly also be affected and if so have to come out are : More of the colon ( on the other side?), diaphragm, parts of stomach and bowels. The jello is around my liver too, but we're hoping that the liver isn't involved at all.

So, as anticipated,  I will definitely be feeling more like a jack-o-lantern than I had before.

We discussed pain options as I'm in a fair amount of pain, talked about preparation for the surgery in terms of nutrition, issues with nausea and so on.  Oh, and (yay) I will also have to go through a colonoscopy before the surgery ( so in the next few weeks) to make sure there are no surprises there, and a series of vaccinations as my spleen will be removed.

Hospital recovery time he estimates will be about 6 weeks after the surgery ( given what he saw on the CT scan), barring any complications. Looks like I will be getting to experience a full Calgary summer!

After there's a likelihood I will have to go through 3-4 months of chemotherapy, but that will be back in BC.

So a lot of information, and much to digest -- but I'm glad we went in informed and ready to sign up for the  MOAS. Now we wait for the actual date, and try our best to prepare...


  1. Wow thats fantastic news Apis. It still sounds like you have a lot ahead of you but that's certainly a large crate of good news and hope.

  2. Good, that all sounds quite positive in spite of all you have to go through! And now you can enjoy the rest of your road trip with your family as you process everything.

    Thank you for updating so quickly, I was wondering how it went today!

    So... six months in recovery, eh? Get ready to be very sick of seeing me; when summer hits I'll be out of work. :D

  3. I'm so happy for you that the news was positive! My thoughts are with you Apis and your adorable boys. Enjoy Calgary while you're out there! It's raining here. You're not missing anything.


  4. It sounds like it is pretty positive! My husband survived leukemia--twice--with a 15% chance of survival. It seems like you have a much better shot.

    Go Apis! :)

    1. Oh, and I should add that he's now been cancer-free for over 10 years. :)

  5. Hurrah for the good news

  6. Oh wow, wow... good news that you're good for surgery, and it's a go and all... but scary all the same! Our thoughts and prayers are with you! Many hugs for you and your family! *hug hug hug*

  7. Holy smokes that's a lot of slicing and dicing in your future. But all of the factors in your favor add up to a big positive.

    Now to dig out my copy of Dave Barry's "Colonoscopy Journal" to send you in the meantime. I mean, you may as well have a good time laughing before your big surgery... :)

    *gentle* hugs once again.

  8. Apis, you are an amazing and tenacious person! I think of you everyday and wish you well! The depth of love that you and your family share for each other will keep you strong.

  9. So happy for the good news Apis!! Just hoping that your surgery date is fixed soon!! Hang in there girl!!!! I'll be praying for you here!!! -Minji

  10. I'm so glad to hear it. Stay strong, you're moving forward. You'll get through this.

  11. Good to know that you've gotten all the information, and that the people there were helpful and straightforward. I will continue sending my prayers and thoughts. I know that you're going to do this, forward momentum and hope. Lots of love your way, hon. Take care of yourself in the mean time and thanks for keeping us posted with updates. Wish I could hug you in real life, but I guess you'll have to settle for an e-hug. *HUGS*

  12. definitely glad it's all on the better side and that your doctors et al seem to be really good. Nice to know there isn't a huge wait time either and the team there really seems to care and want to make sure everything goes as well as possible as soon as possible for you.

  13. Good that you're getting some answers! Yay! Hope your surgery goes well, thinking of you always. :)