Tuesday, 29 May 2012

May 29 pre-surgery

So, it’s been a seven months since my last update. In many ways not much has changed. The major decision was whether to go for surgery in North Carolina or not. Glad that I waited. During this time I’ve stayed on Chemo and it has been working well and looked into other surgery options.

Turns out the Ontario Ministry of Health works with Dr John Kane III out of Roswell Park Cancer hospital in Buffalo. Dr Kane comes very highly recommended by my doctors at Mt Sinai as well as the team from Sunnybrook. This is also covered by OHIP, which is very nice. Over the past four months I’ve been meeting with Dr Kane to discuss surgery options. Things have been going very well. My tumors have been getting smaller and Dr Kane has been getting more confident on surgery.

Doing surgery on stage four cancer patients is new. The goal is to get as much as possible out and to reset the clock. Since the tumors have spread they know that getting everything with surgery is not possible. Some cancer cells will still be in the blood stream or other organs. As Dr Kane described, the best analogy is weeding a garden. The initial surgery will take everything that he can see. After this I’ll go back on chemo to catch some stuff. If anything starts to grow they will go in again with smaller surgery to take it out. This is a new direction, just over two years, so they don’t have much in the way of stats but so far things look good.
On May 30th (tomorrow) I go in for surgery. They will do a smaller incision first to look at my liver. If it is just  the two or max three growths on the liver they will continue; if not they will sew me back up. Dr Kane puts the chances of this at 10%. The next potential road block is the spread of cancer in my small intestine. If there are too many small growths this will also be a point where he stops the plans and sews me back up. He feels the chances of either case is small but still a real chance that they may occur.
After the liver and bowel work is completed then onto the next phase of the surgery. If all goes well I will get 120 min of HiPEC. This will give Dr Kane a bit of a break during the 12hrs surgery. Expectations for post-surgery are that I’ll be in the hospital for two weeks. Personally I’m a huge suck and not looking forward to any of this at all but the upsides are worth it.

Dr Kane has been clear that I will not be disease free after this, small chance that I would be but it would be like winning the lottery twice. He is going to address everything that he can see (bowls, liver, peritoneum). Once I’ve recovered from the operation I’ll need to go back on chemo and have regular CT scans. If they see something else they can hopefully take it out with a minor operation.

As for my health I’m doing fine, other than gaining more weight back. The boys and I are going to Taekwondo five or more times a week. Three weeks ago, we all got our Yellow belts and I can for the first time since grade school that I can touch my toes without bending my legs. Personally I’m more proud of the touching my toes than the Yellow Belt, not a small task for man of my age. Hopefully this will help with a faster recovery and lower risks during surgery.

Over the past week I’ve spent a lot of time with the boys. Went to Wonder Land a few times and took them out of school to see The Avengers and MIB III. It will be good for them to have a few weeks of school without dad pulling them out for fun. Had my last blowout on Friday. Went to the Munk Debates with Mike Stubbs who I first meet in grade nine. After we went to the Rex and a few other bars, didn’t make it home till late. After several request from the east coast, on Sunday we all went to church and I was blessed by the priest.

Tanya will be providing short updates over the next two weeks. My plan is to start more regular updates again in a few weeks. Thank you all for your support, prayers and kind wishes.



pmnb said...

Good luck with this next round. Sounds like they have a plan of attack all worked out.

Also, many thanks for posting again. Many of us back here in Fredericton were wondering how you were doing.

Kudos on the toe-touching! ;-)

Janice and Jim O'Reilly said...

Hi Stephen - thank you so much for the update to your blog. It's so hard to comprehend what you are dealing with but your words give us such a better understanding.
We're sending our very best wishes as you start your recovery.

Karen&John McCarthy said...

Good day Stephen! So pleased to hear the good news on the surgery!! WE are so proud of YOU!!Tanya's updates have been very informative, we feel like we were there with you in Buffalo!

Stay strong! I'll be down to visit on Monday.

Love, Karen