Saturday morning the Dr came to see us with a message of hope. The CT scan showed that Jenney’s chest, abdomen, liver, bones, and lungs look good. They did find some subcutaneous nodules on her left shoulder and flank under the skin, above the muscle, which would be easy to biopsy with some local anesthesia to check and be sure. If these were benign, they saw no reason why we would need to do any chemical treatment, which also means she should be able to carry the baby to full term.
They still wanted to do another MRI of the pelvis, which he discussed with the OB and Oncology doctors. The gamma knife procedure could happen 4 weeks post-op, and since it’s highly localized it’s safe for the baby. We still needed to focus on recovery from the surgery first.
He wasn’t yet sure if we were going to need a shunt, which is an internal drain for brain fluid (CSF). We’d try Monday or Tuesday to turn off the current drain and see how well she tolerates it. If she tolerates it well, we may not need one at all. Wouldn’t that be nice? But of course he has to prepare us for the worst case scenario, and introducing a shunt would also be another operation, which extends the timeline for the gamma knife procedure.
Around 9:30am another oncologist came by and confirmed what the neurologist had said. She checked on the nodules, and didn’t seem concerned about them. She said we could most likely avoid radiation on them, but would keep checking them to see if they’re growing over time instead. The gamma knife procedure is a well known one and is very manageable on stage 4 brain cancer.
Still hard to type that. Stage 4 brain cancer. :(
The treatment would probably need to be done every 3 months for a year or two. If nothing was growing back at that time, we might be able to stop.
Yuk. But since then I’ve learned of others who go through this on a regular basis and go on to lead mostly normal lives for many years. The side effects of the gamma knife seem to typically be a headache, which goes away in a day, and then you don’t worry about it for another 3 months. Not an ideal way to live, but I’ll take it over the alternative.
Of course, speaking of alternatives, I’ll be researching that a hell of a lot too. I’m reading about immunotherapies, metabolic theory and anything that could supplement or provide us with more ammo to combat this disease.
Later they took out Jenney’s catheter, which forces her to get up out of bed more often. This is not only good for her body, but for her morale. Needing help because of the sensitive drainage tube from her head, still sucks, but it’s progress. She spent some time in the chair, upright and watched some TV.
The kids came again that night, and like before, we ushered them up, one at a time to spend about 15 minutes with their mom. Viola brought a book to have Jenney read to her. She got a few of the words mixed up, and Viola laughed and corrected her. Then Viola read the book to Jenney. Little show off. ;) Vincent asked questions; about the various devices and buttons, about the drain and the tube coming from her head, about the controller for the TV and calling the nurse. Jeanne ushered Sebastian up to the room while I stayed with the other kids in the cafe, chatting about when mommy might come home.
The plan on that front, at the time, is to have the drain in until Monday, then try to turn if off for a while and see how well she tolerates it. If she does well, no shunt, else shunt.
We went home and I only cried once on the way. Win.
At home we had dinner, someone stopped by to feed us, and I talked a lot with my mom while the kids played. After putting them to bed I went over to Steve’s and we went out for a couple of beers. I told him of the good news we had received. He related some stories of similar situations he’d been through, assuring me he was there for me no matter what happened.
We went back home and I slept alone in that big empty bed, dead to the world, feeling some relief.
While this is a shitty, terrible situation, please understand that Jenney and I do find time for laughter. When she messes up a word, or I say an inappropriate joke, or we get a sunset on Mt Rainier that we can see from her hospital window; these trying times are sprinkled with laughter and smiles. While we are scared, we also feel loved. While we do cry, we also laugh. We love each other fiercely, and while I know I need to go home sometimes, I’m so much more at peace when I’m sitting in this chair beside her, writing while she watches TV, or gets some much needed sleep. We choose to remain hopeful, grateful for the friends and family around us, and appreciate the time we have together, now more than ever.