Friday, August 20, 2010
Heather is recovering from surgery very well and all of the physicians appear to be impressed with her healing time and positive attitude. During every visit at OHSU she receives lots of attention from support staff, nurses, and researchers on the prowl for the their next subject. I believe Heather's sweet charming nature draws everyone in and given her diagnosis and age she is a statistical anomaly, which researchers both love and hate. Two of her pain pump tubes were removed last week, two drain tubes were removed yesterday, and two large lymph system drain tubes remain with hopes they will be removed in a week. Heather's mom was down last week and my mom arrived a couple of days ago, which has been a tremendous help and having mom around really helps cut the stress. We have have enjoyed some great food friends have been delivering to us, which has been a huge help. So let's get to "just the facts mam". We met with Heather's surgeon, plastic surgeon, and medical oncologist yesterday. Plastic surgery assesses Heather's progress is excellent and the next step will be continuing to monitor and gradually increasing fluid in her tissue expander's with the eventual goal to replace them with silicone. Heather's surgeon brings us better news than we were expecting and the size of the tumor was 4.2 cm (greatest dimension). This is still considered a large tumor by their standards, but we were told it was around 5 cm at Salem Hospital. Even better news is the cancer only metastasized to 3 (out of 22 removed) axillary lymph nodes near the tumor. Follow up with the surgeon is in 3 months. Last we met with the medical oncologist, who was so kind to actually show us some recent studies demonstrating the most recent data, which I appreciate. Heather was informed she will have to undergo radiation therapy after chemotherapy, due to her age, metastasis to the lymph nodes, and size of tumor. This was not the news we were expecting, however, Heather is willing to undergo any treatment which will increase the likelihood of the cancer not reoccurring. Last, Heather was given two options for chemotherapy, which will require further investigation by us to determine which is the best option. Each has it's own set of benefit's, however, one of the options is more treatment aggressive and has a 10% chance causing congestive heart failure. We certainly have our home work to do, however, Heather is leaning towards the safer first option. She is scheduled for an EKG, chemo port will be surgically inserted, and chemotherapy begins mid-September. We are feeling much better today than a few days ago, as the uncertainty of the lymph node situation was very unsettling. My supervisor warned me this would be a roller coaster and I think we can now relate and fully understand this metaphor. We were looking up with uncertainty a few days ago and are now looking down knowing what to expect and where the twists and turns reside. Keep you posted.
Posted by Shane and Heather McDaniel