Monday, March 29, 2010

Pre-op done, next stop - surgery

Today was the last of the doctor appointments that I have until the surgery, and it was nice to get it out of the way. It was supposed to be an hour and a half, and took just over 2 hours, so not too bad all-in-all.

Today I learned what I need to do before the surgery, what wonderful tubes I will have put into my body, and the basic recovery time for the process. As of now they think I will be in the hospital 2-3 days. When I come home I will not be able to drive for 2-4 weeks, all depending on how long I am taking the pain meds. But she did say I could get back in the pulpit in a couple of weeks, as long as someone drives me to the church.

The procedure that they hope to do is a "thoracoscopy," which is the one where they insert a camera into three small incisions. They will then remove the right upper lobe from there. If they cannot get everything that way they will do a "thoracotomy," which is a larger, vertical incision under the arm pit and remove everything from there. Time in the hospital is about the same for both. It will all depend on when they can get the chest tube out of me.

I am glad to be done with all the appointments that were scheduled. It has been a lot of trips to doctors and procedures in a short time, considering this started on March 1. The next two and a half weeks will be a welcome break from the medical arena.

As I mentioned before, surgery is scheduled for April 15th. I will continue to do semi-regular updates on here until then and after as well. They did say that all the rooms were private and they have Wi-Fi, so I will be blessed to have the computer with me during my time up there.

Have a blessed Holy Week. I am sure I will have at least one more post up before Easter.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Arrival - My First Wig

As I mentioned earlier, after the surgery I am going to need to have both chemo and radiation. As many know, quite often people who have chemo lose their hair, and, well, I don't have a lot to lose. This has become a running joke with a number of my friends.

Earlier this week I jokingly said to a friend from high school that when I lost my precious hair that I was going to get a wig and I was thinking about an '80's style mullet. Well, this dear friend decided to take me up on that and yesterday I got a package from him that was a wig. No mullet - instead it is a nice big afro.

I already know that humor is amazingly important when it comes to deal with cancer, so I am going to have as much fun with this as I can. I have heard of ball caps that have hair sticking out of the back, wigs of a variety of styles, and other ways to cover the balding that will come. Going bald is something that will probably happen, so why not have some fun with it as well.

My next appointment is on Monday, when I do pre-op up at the hospital in Madison. Then I am off until the surgery on the 15th. This week I am going to spend playing and having fun with the family and celebrating the act that we are Easter people and the resurrection of Christ brings us hope, healing, and the promise of new life. May all of you be blessed during this time as well.

Friday, March 26, 2010

MRI - Check!

Okay, I got through the MRI fairly well. I did the open MRI down in Rockford and I am glad that I did. I was able to have my arms out to the side and even though the plate above me was very close to my face, I kept my eyes closed and didn't freak out at all. I was in there for about an hour and 20 minutes, so God and I had a great talk.

After the MRI the tech came in and said that even though she is not a radiologist, she did not see anything that looked negative, so that is good news as well. This is not something I want to do on a regular basis, but it was worth it so that we can move forward with the rest of the treatments that are necessary.

So I have one work up left. On Monday I go to Madison and do my pre-op work-up, and then I am done until the surgery on April 15th. I am continually amazed at how much has happened in such a short period of time. My first doctor appointment was on March 1, so March has been a bit crazy with appointments and tests. it will be nice to have about 3 weeks off and out of doctor's offices.

Right now I am very upbeat about everything. The surgeon gave me a lot of hope, and I trust that through all of this that God will continue to bless me and the people around me with the strength and healing that is needed. I know that I have been put on a lot of prayer chains and have people all over the world praying for me, and for this I am very grateful. I will continue to need all the prayers I can get as we enter into the treatment stage.

And thanks to everyone for all your well-wishes and support. You are a true blessing to me, Jennifer, and the girls.

More updates to come later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 3 and 1/2 hour wait ffor the surgeon was worth it

Yup - the doctor was a wee bit backed up today, but the wait was worth it. I was very impressed with the surgeon and her team. And she gave me a lot a hope as well, for she was the first doctor to say out loud that this was treatable. She said I was in the top 20% of the patients she has seen and they should be able to get the cancer out.

It still appears that the tumor is in the right lung, and it seems to be in the upper lobe. At least one node has been affected, but this is next to the same lobe of the lung, which is good news as well.

So the plan is to have a "lobe-ectomy" (sp?) Basically they are going to take out the upper lobe of my right lung. They will also remove all of the nodes in that area and test them for cancer. As of now she believes that at least one will come back positive, and then we will have further treatment. One of the best quotes of the night was, "Because of your age we will throw the whole kitchen sink at you, you will have both chemo and radiation." My thought is - if she can cut out the cancer, I will endure both chemo and radiation to make sure that it does not come back again.

There are two possible ways of doing the surgery. The first they will try consists of doing the majority of the work by using a tube down my throat. There will be a small (3 inch) cut under my armpit where the lobe will be removed. If that cannot happen, and that means that they cannot get to all the nodes that they need to through the tube, then they will have a 6 inch cut under my armpit where they will stretch my ribs and do the entire surgery through there.

Both types of surgery will require me to be in the hospital for 2-3 days. I will then have a few days recovery at home before beginning the chemo and radiation therapies.

We also set a tentative date for the surgery. It will be on April 15th. This was the first opening they had, and it works well for us too. This way we can do everything we need to for Holy Week and Easter, and we can take the trip to Florida with Jennifer's family that was planned earlier this year. I think this will be especially good for Sierra, because she is not liking me going to all those doctor appointments in a row and the time away just with us will be good.

It is a little longer to wait than I originally hoped, but the doctor assured me that in terms of cancer growth, this is nothing. She said the tumor has been in there for over a year and not much will change in three weeks.

So overall it was a very good appointment. I had a retired doctor, who is a dear family friend, with me to be my sounding board, and she was impressed and heard good news in the meeting as well.

The next step is the MRI, which will be on Friday. Then I have one more pre-surgery appointment in Madison. After that it is the surgery and follow-up treatments.

Thanks to everyone who have been praying for us. We all appreciate your support and ask for continued prayers as we continue down this path.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meeting with the Oncologist

Okay - that one is over, at least for now. And we learned a few more things, so that is helpful too.

First, we learned the name of the cancer, it is adenocarcinoma. From what the doctor said, this is common type of lung cancer, but very uncommon in young non-smoking males. He thinks that I may have a genetic mutation which caused this, but is not sure. I am a real oddity for him on this.

Second, I will be having a MRI sometime in the near future, before surgery. They want to double check that it has not spread. At this point everything seems to be located in my right lung. There are a few nodes that have been affected, but they appear to be in the same lung, so that is good news as well. I will be doing the MRI in Rockford because they have an open MRI, which is much better for my claustrophobia.

Third, the hopeful plan is that I will have surgery to remove the cancer from my lung, then I will follow up with some chemo. The current plan is four doses, with 21 days between each dose. This seems to be preventative for the future.

Tomorrow we go to Madison to meet with the surgeon. I have heard great things about her, so that should go well.

Again I ask that you keep me in your prayers, and you are more than welcome to put me on any and all prayer chains that you have contact with. One of the interesting parts of meeting with the doctor today was that before we left he offered to pray with us. I have never had that before, and I really appreciated it.

More will come tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Test Two Passed

So the delayed test two was completed this afternoon, and I passed with flying colors once again. This time it was a breathing test and I was between 85% and 121% on all of the tests, so they said that I am ready to go for surgery on the lung capacity part.

Tomorrow is the first meeting that I have with the oncologist. I have heard great things about him, so that is good, but I am still a bit nervous about having to go see a "cancer doctor." That will be taking place tomorrow morning. Then on Wednesday I head up to Madison to meet with the surgeon.

So far, everything is going as smoothly as possible. I hope and pray it continues that way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Test Two Postponed

So I was all set to get up to the hospital and blow my lungs out for a breathing test today, and then got the call that the person who does the test went home sick, so that one is postponed until Monday afternoon - I guess that means I can get more work done n the office.

But here is what I am frustrated with right now - Yesterday I got a letter from the UW Madison Hospital with a bunch of info on my meeting with the doctor up there next week. There was also a form to fill out so that they could be prepared for the meeting. The frustrating part was when i was going down the list to mark everything that is wrong with me - and I marked "no" on them all.

Now I understand that I have this disease - the tube down my throat made that abundantly clear - and I am grateful that I do not have any of the symptoms of cancer as well, but I am frustrated because I am going to need surgery even though I don't feel sick. I know that the recovery time will be shorter with me being as healthy as I am, but if I felt something, anything, I could probably wrap my mind around this a little bit better.

So there is my rant for the day. Will update as more develops.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Test One Done

Okay - the stress test is done and I passed with flying colors. I worked up a wonderful sweat in a fairly short amount of time, but the doctor said that I did very well and am a great candidate for surgery - so that is good news.

The next test is at the end of the week, it is a breathing test and my doctor said that I should pass that one easily as well. Just another step in the process - all moving forward to getting this cancer out of me.

It is still a very strange thing to be sitting in a doctors office, talking about cancer with the doctors looking at me going - you never smoked, your only 38, this really doesn't seem right - and it doesn't. But I am continually reminding myself that even though it doesn't seem right, I am blessed to have the doctors that caught this when they did. I am now anxiously awaiting the meetings I have next week to see when the surgery can be scheduled and what the next steps will be.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support. More posts to come later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Schedule for the Week

Now that the shock is starting to wear off a little bit for me (oh, it is still there, but not as much as it was a few days ago), I am now looking forward to the next steps that have to be taken to deal with this cancer.

This week I have two tests scheduled. Both of these are to see how fit I am for surgery. From what the doctor said, these tests are normally done for people in their 70's and I should have no trouble at all with them.

On Tuesday I have a stress test, so I will get to play on a treadmill for a while - I am wondering if I can put on the I-pod and listen to a little "Chicken Fried" while walking and running.

On Friday I have a breathing test. This will take about an hour, they say. I have already done one of these on a much smaller scale and my lung capacity is very good.

I think that is one of the most frustrating parts of all of this - I have no symptoms at all. I feel good, overall rather healthy. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I have an illness inside me and I cannot sense it.

I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers. To have a community who is as supportive of you is extremely moving - thank you! I will continue to update this blog every few days as I learn more - or have something coherent to say.

God Bless.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Test Results

Over the past few weeks I have been undergoing a number of medical tests. They are tests I never expected to take because I don't have any symptoms of anything right now - but it turns out that it was a good thing my doctor insisted.

A little background - Six months ago I had walking pneumonia (and I had it for about 6 months). I did the treatment and the pneumonia disappeared. Last week I went in for a regular appointment with my doctor and everything looked great, but she decided to have me do a CT Scan just to check on the lungs. That night the doctor called me and said that she had set up an appointment with a specialist because she thought there was some scar tissue on my lung. I met with the specialist and he decided to run a PET scan. We did that and found out it was not scar tissue, but it look like it might be an infection in the lung. So more tests were scheduled.

The next step was a bronchoscopy, where they put a tube down my throat and looked around, they also took some pieces of tissue to biopsy.

On Friday we found out that I have lung cancer. This is a new thing for the doctor since I am under 40 and a non-smoker. He was very confused by it.

Now the good news is that this appears to be operable. There are three spots on one lung and they are in a row. There is a doctor I will be seeing in Madison who specializes in this stuff, so we will know more in a few weeks. It was also a blessing that we did the PET scan when we did, because we know that it has not spread - it is in one lung and it is very slow growing. There is an old X-Ray from 2008 which, when you look at it in hindsight, shows one of the spots. So this adds up to very good treatment options.

Over the next two weeks I will be doing a few tests and meeting with some doctors. As things develop I will be updating this blog.

Your prayers are appreciated.