My Dad and I met with Dr. Sielaff, the Liver surgeon this morning. He concurred with Dr. Duane that we could go ahead with surgery. This surgery is really border line on if they should do it. So much so that Dr. Sielaff called Dr. Duane this morning and asked if he would put him in jail for operating on me. Dr. Duane said that if he was going to jail on this one, that they would put him there too as he 100% endorses it. Dr. Duane is concerned that I have already maxed out my chemo benefits and that we should take this opportunity while we have it to go for a “cure”. “Cure” for a cancer patient (especially a Stage 4 patient) is tough to hear as it really gets your hopes up, even though the stats are pointed against you. Dr. Sielaff shared this stat with us: the median length of time for surviving stage 4 colon cancer if you just do chemo is 24 months. As Han Solo said in Empire Strikes Back, “Never tell me the odds!” One little hint on keeping a positive attitude-believe that all those stats, numbers and doctors don’t know you or what you and your Faith are capable of.
The Surgery: Surgery day is next Wed., the 11th. The surgery will be performed at Abbott Northwestern. I check in at 8 a.m., they start working on me at 10:30 a.m. The surgery will last about 5 hours. Dr. Sielaff will be joined by his partner and some 4th year med students for the procedure. During the first hour they will enter me laproscopically. That means that they will make a smaller incision and view the liver to again ensure that there is no smaller cancer seeds or tumors that were not seen during all the scans. If they see something more than they did from all the scans, they will sew me back up and I will go back on chemo. If they don’t see anything new, they will continue on with the full surgery. The incision is rather large-a vertical line down the abdomen and then a horizontal line extending under the right rib cage. During the surgery they will remove the entire left lobe of the liver and the gall bladder. After removing those, he will move on to the remaining tumors and try and “ice cream scoop” them out. If he can’t remove some of them he may radiate them right away. If the surgery goes on too long or he starts to have difficulties removing some of the remaining tumors, he will stitch me back up and schedule a second surgery. During or after the surgery(not sure which) he will pull my family into a private consultation room to explain how the procedure went. My Dad said that this happened during my other two surgeries as well. As with all surgeries, there are risks-heart attack, liver failure, blood clots and bile leakage are some of the one’s he listed for this one.
Post Surgery: They are telling me that I will be in the hospital for about 5 days. Hopefully I will actually get out when they say I will this time. Any complications during surgery or recovery of course will extend that stay. I will go home with Vicodin to help me deal with the pain. They said the full recovery takes 4-6 weeks. They said I would probably be able to go back to work on a part time basis during week 3. The liver is the one organ that rebuilds itself. One astonishing fact…the liver area that is removed finishes regenerating itself around week 6! As far as diet and restrictions there is only one-no alcohol during the first six weeks after surgery. The only other restriction is no lifting over 10 lbs. for the first six weeks.
Home Front: Karen’s Mom and Dad will help take care of her and the boys while I’m vacationing at the hospital. Karen’s sisters will probably get some Brenden and Jaxson time as well. We will get the boys up to visit me a couple days after surgery so they see I am doing o.k.
Next step-after surgery: I have an appointment to meet my Oncologist, Dr. Duane about 4 weeks after the surgery. At that point he will outline my next round of chemo(how long, type of drugs, scans, etc…)
Communication: During my surgery and recovery it will be up to Karen and Sarah to keep you all informed on how I am doing. To learn more about my surgeon and the hospital I will be at, I will try to post links on the right side of my home page.
Again thank you for all your prayers, thoughts and well wishes. I and my family again will need all that support as I take the next step in this battle. Thank you so much for your love! 🙂