Monday, April 30, 2007

Cancer, among other things...

A lot of you know that I had been treated for thyroid cancer last year after giving birth to Ellie. I was just preparing for my one year follow up scan when I took Tyler in for his hospital stay. I had been off my thyroid medication for two and a half weeks and was starting to get a little foggy-brained during his hospital stay, so I started taking it again. I called my doctor and told her that I needed my brain during this interesting time with Tyler, and I'd just put off the scan till later.

She talked me into sticking with the schedule. My labs were suspicious, though she didn't tell me. I knew I still had it because whenever I turned my head to talk to the kids in the back of the car, I felt pressure on the same side the cancer had been. The scan was a mere technicality. I underwent treatment and isolation from my kids for two weeks.

For six weeks, it seemed as if Ty's tumor was growing before my eyes, and I took measurements. It was growing, but when I called the surgeon he would just tell me that the abdomen varies daily with the amount of gas and stool. Again with the gas!

Noreen, my cousin, was a lifesaver (as were many others). She helped me prepare about 30 freezer meals just in case Tyler was going to have surgery. She had some great recipes and those meals nourished our family in more ways than one. They got me through the days when I was so tired, I couldn't think of what to make for dinner, let alone actually prepare it.

In early December, we returned to visit with the surgeon. Tyler had a new CT scan. The doctor glimpsed at it and felt that it hadn't really grown. Mr. Triumph convinced him to compare measurements from the day of surgery and the new scan. I asked him if I could lay Tyler on the table and see if he still felt that the tumor hadn't grown much. He took one look and said, "That's bigger, much bigger."

He then looked at the films much more closely and saw that the tumor had doubled in size since the surgery. It wasn't until he read the findings that he realized the tumor was pressing down on Ty's right ureter and impacting his kidney. It was also close to the major blood supply for his right leg. He left to meet with Oncology and Radiology and made apologies for not having us meet with them before we left the hospital after the biopsy.

After meeting with Oncology and an orthopaedic surgeon who has experience with this type of tumor, it was decided that Tyler would most likely start a weekly regimen of chemotherapy with methotrexate and vinblastine. First, he had surgery to place a port-a-cath to deliver the chemo drugs. It is completely under his skin and feeds into the Superior vena cava just above his heart.

Our anaesthetist was a big proponent of having a parent take the patient back to the Operating Room. I donned a white "bunny suit" and cap and Mr. Triumph took a lovely photo. I accompanied Tyler back to the OR and transferred him to the surgical table. The anaesthetist then let me help her put him under before the surgeon came in and I had to leave.

Tyler has had a number of surgeries, and the hardest part for me has always been when I arrive at the doors where they take him from me and leave me standing there watching the doors close and wondering if it will be the last time I see him. The thought always passes, but it always comes no matter how minor the surgery. This time was different - it was so comforting to see where he is during surgery and to help him go under.

1 comment:

Expat Mom said...

I know this is an older post, but it brought back that flood of emotions that I felt when my son went in for surgery. Very scary. He also would cling to me and scream "MAMA!" As the nurse took him away, which made it a hundred times harder. :( Thankfully, he`s fine now and will hopefully never need surgery again.