Dr. Davisson just called and said that he consulted with two other Thoracic Surgeons in Southern California and they both agreed that my surgery has to be a Sternotomy.
He DID promise to "keep me looking good," though. So I guess I've got that going for me. Here's what a typical Sternotomy scar looks like, just so you can see how awesome I get to be in a month. I believe this one isn't fully healed, hopefully mine will be less prominant once it's all healed up.
And for the geeks like me, here's a fun fact: Skeet Ulrich has a Sternotomy scar too! You can hardly see his, which is comforting. He wears it well. I only hope I can too.



Well I got my date for my surgery: November 10th. I go in a few weeks before to donate some blood (although I'm just giving it back to myself so it doesn't really count as a good deed!), which is step one. Then I go in for Pre-Op I think like 2 days before surgery and then back again about 6 days after it for Post Op. That means only 3 more times of someone sticking me with needles until I'm done for a while. I seriously cannot wait for that. I've never had a big problem with needles, but lately it's just starting to get old, so I'm looking forward to not having to do that anymore. I guess it's a good thing I'm not a drug addict.
Dr. Davisson (my Thoracic Surgeon) was a lot more at ease and less creepy this time, which was nice. I still have a second opinion appointment set for October 5th, but if he tells me the same thing I am feeling okay with going to Dr. Davisson after all. Not to mention that my Aunt told me that she knows a lot of the doctors at Lakeview Kaiser and Dr. D comes very highly recommended. So we'll see how that goes. I would also really like to have the surgery somewhat local so that people can visit me and I wont have to sit in a hospital all alone for a week (Hint-Hint!)
ALSO- I asked him why we would have to do the surgery via Sternotomy rather than a VATS (Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery) and he said that it IS possible to do the surgery that way but he thinks it would be a better idea to be sure to get it all out in one swoop as with the Sternotomy. He assured me he would consult with his colleague about it and get back to me (he seemed quite impressed that I knew so much about my surgery and tumor). So now I'm kind of stuck with the decision of "should I risk a possibility of them not removing the entire tumor and having to go back in again," or having this gnarly surgery and a huge scar. He said if a VATS surgery was unsuccessful that we would likely do a Sternotomy anyway. So I've got that to think about.
So I am now surprisingly calm about this whole thing. For me it's the not knowing that drives me crazy, not the good or bad news itself. I know what the plan is, and I know exactly how long I have to prepare my body. That's good.


Same old song and dance

I know all I've been talking about lately is my surgery, but I'm anxious and it's just been what is on my mind.
I go in tomorrow for another doctor's visit with my surgeon at the Lakeview Kaiser office and I have no clue what we are going to discuss there. I imagine it will be setting up a date for my surgery but with the way this is all going I really have no expectations right now. I'm still waiting for my doctor to call me to set up my appointment for my second opinion as well so I really hope they call today so that I have some idea of when that will be with all of this. We will also be looking at the results of the new CT scan from Friday so I hope those are positive. We did a high resolution CT Scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis because my surgeon wants to make sure I don't have anything else going on. My fingers are crossed that I don't.
Other than that, things are pretty boring for me right now. I'm trying to eat healthy and in abundance so that my body can get all of the nutrients it needs. I'm taking vitamins too, and trying to do some yoga in my office at work when I have free time (and privacy!). I'm making sure to get lots of rest and not stress about anything. I'm getting my paperwork for any financial assistance ready and doing as much of my office work as I possibly can so that my boss doesn't fall apart without me here. It feels like I'm forgetting something but I can't put my finger on it... but I'm sure I'll get everything ready in time. I'm kind of an over preparer in general so I'm not too worried about any of that sort of thing.
Sooo... here's to hoping tomorrow goes smoothly. Kenneth is going with me to my appointment so that should be helpful. He's quite smart and I know he will ask any questions I forget to. Love that wonderful, supportive man of mine!



Well yesterday was a hard day for me. Today is a little bit better but not by much. I had my doctor's appointment and first of all- I do NOT like the surgeon they assigned me. Unfortunately he is the only Thoracic surgeon in the area. I will seek out a second opinion and perhaps a different doctor, but that means I will have to travel all the way to LA just for my appointment (which means taking work off I guess).
Anyways, to update everyone on my surgery, yesterday was crappy. He told me that they still didn't know if they were going to do surgery or chemo, which made me furious because I feel like my time is being wasted but I guess it is what it is. But I just got off the phone with him and he told me that after a meeting with a board of surgeons, they've decided that surgery is the right answer. When I talked to him yesterday, though, he told me that if we proceed to surgery it will need to be a Sternotomy. For a full description of that:
Median sternotomy is a type of surgical procedure in which a vertical inline incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is divided, or "cracked". This procedure provides access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures such as heart transplant, corrective surgery for congenital heart defects (CHDs), or coronary artery bypass surgery.
Basically this was my worst case scenario on surgery. I will be in the hospital for about a week, then on bed rest for two to three weeks. This means I will have to take a month off of work, which I really hope wont lead to me losing my job. What a mess. There are other health as well as some aesthetic concerns that I have, but I wont get into that right now. Anyways- I don't know my surgery date yet but I will be sure to keep everyone posted.


Information Age

Well today I have my doctor's appointment to go over the details (and hopefully appointment date) for my surgery. As I'm sure you can imagine I am VERY anxious to find out the details about how long I will be in the hospital and how long I can be expected to need to take off work. According to the Internet articles I have been reading, recovery time could be anywhere from less than a week to an entire month off work. The reason being that they will need to collapse one of my lungs in order to maneuver around in there so that alone takes some time to get back to "100%" as far as that. I've also been reading that my ribs and kind of entire chest area will be pretty painful for a while, just to sleep and eat and cough and stuff. BUT, they will hopefully be giving me some awesome drugs so I will be able to sleep and function relatively well. I know that no matter how much any of that stuff hurts, that time will eventually pass as well and I will feel SO much better than I have in months, so I'm looking forward to that.
On a more spiritual note: I have been doing some thinking throughout this whole experience and know, without a doubt, that God wouldn't have given me this test if he didn't KNOW that I could handle it. I was thinking about this a week or two ago and kind of playing the "pity me" card to myself. Lately I have been haunted by images of myself laying on an operating table with my body cut open and me knocked out cold... it's a scary thought. But I know that this is something I can deal with. I know that I don't have it so bad, and that catching this thing when we did was a gift to me from God himself, because if we hadn't then who knows how long this may have gone on or what could have happened if the tumor had grown to press more into my heart or lungs. I know that this tumor could have been malignant, and I'm not sure I would have dealt very well with that. But God knew what I could deal well with and grow from and he delivered that to me- no more, no less. I know that bad things happen, even to good people. Even to people like my sister's friend, Jenny, who has Cancer and is dealing with it with more strength than I can even imagine. God knew she could do it, and although my burden has nowhere near the severity of hers, it reminds me that God knows I can do this too. And in a way... I'm flattered. I'm flattered the way I was the first time my Dad told me that he saw great things possible in me and I believed him. Someone as amazing as my father (and in this new case my Father in heaven) has a great faith in what I am capable of. He must think I am pretty great. And with that esteem in myself from the both of them, I know that I can handle this and not only get past it, but thrive through it. I WILL come out of this a better, stronger, and more complete person. Funny how taking something out of you somehow makes you more complete...
I am also looking to get as healthy as possible before this surgery, but having a hard time with it. I get winded pretty easily because of the placement of my tumor and how it's now pressing on my lungs. But I still want to do some kind of workout... yoga, perhaps? Any suggestions are more than welcome!
Anyways, today will be another page in this chapter and that much closer to the end of it... so today is a good day for me. Hopefully my doctor gives me some encouraging news. Wish me luck!


Facts about today.

First and most importantly: I FINALLY talked to my doctor. They said that my tumor is either a teratoma (as they originally thought) or a Thymoma. Bad news: apparently neither one is cured by lollipops as requested in my last post. Good news: my doctor is recommending that I have surgery to remove it rather than Chemotherapy. The chemo would have made me miss less work, and I wouldn't have a scar (I think, unless they would have had to do surgery anyways), BUT it would have been toxic on my body and apparently put things in it that would have made my chances for Cancer much higher later in my life. So that is really, really great news for me. I have an appointment to consult with my Thoracic Surgeon in two weeks (the soonest he had an appointment) to go over details for the surgery and set up a date for it. I looked up Mediastinal Surgery yesterday and read that there are three different types of surgeries. The first one requires that they crack open your sternum to access the tumor and remove it. This is in cases of a "larger tumor," but I don't know what size they are talking about. The second type is where they crack one of my ribs to access the tumor. Again, this is for "larger tumors." The third surgery option would be an orthoscopic surgery, with three incisions made (which would mean less scarring). They would make one incision for the camera and two for tools to remove the tumor. This is the minimally invasive and obviously my first choice of surgery. I don't know if my tumor (which is about 7.5 x 3 cm) is a candidate for the orthoscopic surgery, but I'm really crossing my fingers on this one. Even with that surgery the hospital stay is about 1-3 days, with about a month to full recovery. I think I would be able to get back to work way sooner than that since my job is laid back, but I really don't know what to expect. Honestly my biggest fear is missing too much work- is that weird? I will be knocked out for my surgery, so I don't think that will be an issue unlike my biopsy where I was awake. They will give me drugs for the pain afterwards, so I'm not worried about that either. I am a little concerned because I think they have to collapse a lung in order to access my mediastinal cavity during surgery, but all in all I am not that freaked out by that either. I really just don't want to miss a bunch of work and be way behind on my bills and have my boss be clueless on how to do stuff in here. I suppose I could train a temporary replacement for while I'm out, like Jill did at her old job when she went on vacations. I don't know. Anyways- enough of that, I'll keep you posted in two weeks.


The waiting is the hardest part

Where on Earth is my doctor?!? Grr... Im sorry, just getting anxious to hear back on my biopsy results. As it turns out I am not a very patient person. They told me last Tuesday that it would take three days to get my results, but now they are saying it takes 5-7 business days to get them. Im really hoping they call me today. Im also hoping they say "Oh- all we need to do is give you a Green Caramel Apple sucker and the tumor goes away!!"... but I guess I don't always get what I want. I am not looking forward to any of the things they have to do to cure me, but I am anxious to get them finished. Once this is all over I am doing something to celebrate. I can't wait to be able to walk up my stairs without losing my breath because there simply isn't enough room in my chest for my lungs to expand. I cant wait to be cold without my chest hurting because my body has tensed up and is now constricting my tumor and therefore pressing it against my ribs. I cant wait to take a yoga class. I cant wait to be able to get a full night's rest. I cant wait to not be so stressed out that I clench my jaw at night and wake up not being able to talk. People don't realize the effects that one part of your body going wrong has on the rest of it. I have had chronic headaches from this for probably the past 3 months. My neck feels like I constantly need to crack it but can't. I can't sit for long periods of time without my back killing me- which is difficult at my job. I went to the Dentist yesterday and was anxious to sit in the chair because it felt good on my back. Who the heck WANTS to sit in the Dentist chair?? Im quite sure my liver is effed from all the painkillers I've put into it the past 6 months. All in all- I am very anxious to be done with this whole thing. Perhaps I will throw my tumor a going away party once I figure out how we are getting rid of it... or maybe if I throw it one it will get the hint and get lost on it's own!
Anyways. Sorry to vent, but cross your fingers that my doctor calls me today!