Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The next chapter

It's been a week since my surgery, and I am resting comfortably at home, as comfortably as you can with two little children in the house. The surgery went well; the surgeon said that it was less complicated than he had anticipated, so they let me go home the next morning. I was really grateful for this, as I just wanted to relax at home. It was so hot during the night and I was stuck in bed with a catheter and leg compression sleeves, which help prevent blood clots. After reading the story of a woman who died of a pulmonary embolism the day after her daughter was born, I had told Jim that I would never again complain about the leg compression. And I didn't, but man, they make me hot and because I can't move in the bed much, I just get so sore. Then, my roommate was having issues throughout the night, so there was TV on very late, lights on most of the night, etc. Plus she was vomiting, which actually didn't bother me much, but I didn't start to get good sleep until about 3AM. Then starting at 4AM, I had two different nursing assistants take vitals, and two different phlebotomists take blood. Argh... However, I kept it all in perspective. My roommate had MS and had had her bladder removed due to cancer. Some medication she'd been given had made her really out of it, so they kept asking her questions to see if she was more lucid. I might have been hot, tired and sore, but at least I got to go home the next day.

They did the procedure laparascopically, which is pretty cool. I have a small incision to the left of my navel and one to the right and slightly below; both are less than 1 inch. The third incision is through my navel, which is pretty weird! That is the only one that is still a bit sore, but it's healing up too. This recovery is much easier than the recovery from my nephrectomy. At that time I was in much more pain than I had thought I would feel after a lap procedure. This time I feel like I had expected to. My job says I am ok to be off work until 9/22, which is crazy - also is more than 2 weeks longer than I was allowed for the nephrectomy. When I see the surgeon for follow up, I will see when I can go back to work, hopefully much sooner. That follow up hasn't been scheduled yet - they actually haven't called me since I came home.

Dr. Rini, my oncologist, called me this morning with my pathology results. The nodule was malignant with renal cell carcinoma. The good news is, that is the only place they saw it, so while I am now a member of the stage 4 cancer survivors club, in Dr R's words, "we would call it resected M1 disease because your only site of metastasis would be resected with nothing visible left and no treatment would be offered." There isn't typical chemotherapy for kidney cancer - it's not like other cancers where they remove everything they see surgically, then blast you with drugs to try to kill any remaining cells. Instead, the systemic (drug) therapies, all of which are pretty new, work to shrink or kill existing tumors when they are too numerous or too dangerous to be removed surgically. My stats are that the chance of no cancer coming back is 30-35% right now. I cried when I heard that, but I know that stats are based on past experience, and that advances are being made all the time; also, I could be in that 30-35%. So I'm upset about this turn of events, but am not going to let it restrict my life if I can help it.

Before you think I am so positive about all this, I will say... I am mad, sad, disappointed, scared, lots of emotions. Even though this is not in my control, I feel bad that I am putting Jim through this. After watching my dad die of cancer, me getting it was his worst fear. I fear not seeing my girls grow up and not being here for them, and I fear leaving Jim to raise them alone. Yes, I know that I am projecting a lot here, but these are the thoughts that go through my head.

Tomorrow will be a better day.


Lisa said...

Oh, Liz.

I'm so sorry.

We're here for you when you need us.


Nina said...

{{{{HUGS}}}} Liz! Yes, tomorrow will be a better day. And I'm routing for you all the way.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you as you work your way through your reaction to this news, one day at a time.


Bec said...

I think it would be odd if you weren't sad, mad, scared, feeling bad about others in your family. There is no way around the fact that this really sucks big time. It's not fair either! I'm very sorry. Be sure to let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Hugs!!!

Barbara said...

I am so so sorry.

I just *know* you'll be in the percentage with the positive outcome!

Sending you lots and lots of prayers, PVs, good karma and everything else.


SewPaula said...

I'm so sorry, and I agree that your feelings are to be expected. Hugs, and remember we are all here for you.

Rachel said...

Oh, boo. :(

Lots of PVs and good vibes that you're in the good news group, and like everyone else says, remember we're here when you need us for whatever you need. Really!

Pollyanna said...

Yuck. I'm so sorry. Hey now we have matching scars on our belly buttons;) Now if THAT doesn't make it all better...I don't know what will;) I think the whole laparoscopy thing is very cool.

I totally would be feeling all those things too. I'm glad you posted and will keep you in my thoughts. And don't read Matt's blog too much. You are still alive and have so much to look forward to being able to do.

Hugs again!

Natalie said...

I've not really been checking the list for some time, so it seems I missed a fair bit - and was quite shocked to read this just now.

My heart goes out to you, and I'm sad that you're having to deal with so much of this again. But I will keep sending good thoughts and keep you in my prayers that you are among those who remain triumphant and beat this once and for all. Someone has to, right? It'll be you.

PVs to you and yours; I'm so far away but if I can do anything, please ask.


Julia said...

You have had such a hard time. I'm with you-- I also believe that you WILL be in that 35%. You'll be the person that others point to when they talk about very long-term cancer survivors.
I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Cancer (even resected, GONE cancer) sucks.
Hugs to you,

Jacqueline said...

oh Liz... I was so hoping for you... I am *still* praying for you and would like to ask your permission to add your name to my church's prayer list. We are all here for you.

onesillymama said...

Jacqui, you absolutely have my permission. I fully believe in the power of prayer and I really appreciate the help!

Angela said...

I'm sorry to hear your recent news. You've got so much cyber-support, I hope you're feeling it. Your emotions sound very normal and your outlook is what will get you through this.

Take care,

DEB said...

Liz, You openness is refreshing and helps everyone know exactly where you are. I'm sorry we are now members of the same club, but I can't think of any better company. I'm here for you NMW!

Sarah Monahan said...

Your attitude and openness about all of this is really impressive. I think you're awesome! You are always in our prayers.

chramy said...

Oh Liz, so not the news we were praying for. Glad it has not spread and can be treated, our prayers will continue!