Time for Surgery!

A week ago Wednesday, Steve’s doctor ordered an MRI to get a better look at his spine and the tumors to see if Radiation would be good or not.  When the radiologist read the MRI he contacted Steve’s doctor and suggested that Steve go to the hospital immediately to have the spine doctors look at the MRI.  The concern was that the tumors were too close to his spinal cord and they were afraid of paralysis.

So at 10pm last Wednesday night, Steve and I headed to Rhode Island hospital where they gave him a steroid to relieve some of the swelling around the spinal cord to avoid the compression.  The spine doctors then looked at the MRI and decided that with the steroid, there was no immediate danger BUT he needed to follow up in a few days to talk about possible surgery.

The steroid they gave him at the hospital was so good, that it took ALL the pain away and last weekend he felt AMAZING!  Even though he was on some heavy duty narcotics for the pain, it wasn’t taking it away entirely beforehand.  But with the steroid, it was GONE.  He told me that he hadn’t realized how much pain he was in until he was pain free!  He was so happy.

It worked out well because he had plans on Friday night with some of his friends, then Saturday was the fundraiser our neighbors held for us, Sunday we were going to visit his parents and then Monday we had planned on going to the Big E.  Needless to say, he did all of those things without pain.  He felt like a new man!

We saw Steve’s oncologist on Tuesday and he told us he felt that surgery to remove the tumors from his spine was the best thing to do at this point so we could avoid paralysis and which would give Steve a better quality of life for the remainder of his time.  He also felt it was the best way to manage the pain he currently has.  He told us that after he was healed from the surgery, he would then still like to start him on the chemo pill.  He doesn’t know if it’ll do anything but if we can buy another 2 months, then we’ll take it.

Thursday we saw the spine surgeons to talk about Surgery.  First off, they couldn’t get over how well Steve was doing considering what’s going on inside.  They were shocked when he told them he’s still working as much as he can.  They were also impressed with how much we were aware of what’s happening to him and what we wanted for the rest of his time.  They agreed with Dr. Rana (Steve’s Oncologist) that surgery was the best option.

So here is the plan…

Monday afternoon Steve will have surgery on his spine.  There are two spots on his spine – T9 and T10 – that are literally fill of cancer – the inside and the outside.  Those are the two areas where the tumors are growing towards the spinal cord.  They will remove the tumors on the outside and clean out the inside of the bone as best as they can and the insert some cement so the bone isn’t hallow.  Then they will insert some titanium rods to secure the bone and make it stronger.

They will make about a 4-6 inch incision in his back since they have to put the rods in.  I’m very concerned about infection, especially with an incision that big.  The doctors believe that while Steve’s risk for infection is greater with him being on chemo for 27 months, he believes the risk of paralysis is greater if the surgery is not done.  They will watch him very closely for infection and make sure his body is up for the surgery before they begin.  They also told Steve that if for any reason they believe they should stop or not go any further, they will close him up immediately.

Their goal is not to remove all the cancer.  Actually they were be only removing a small percentage of the cancer in his body.  It’s not possible to remove it all.  Their only concern is to remove what is heading towards his spinal cord.

We are nervous, of course and even a bit scared about him having this type of surgery, but we both feel it’s the best thing to do, so we can continue to move forward as a family and do the things that we need to do, and make the memories we need to make for all 4 of us.

Any extra prayers, thoughts and well wishes you can send our way this week, especially Monday, will be very much appreciated.  The doctors expect he’ll be in the hospital a few days and possibly rehab for a few days to control his pain from the surgery.

The timing of this surgery is pretty shitty for us because our cousin Danielle’s wedding is one week from today.  So unfortunately Steve won’t be there.  We are all sad but there isn’t much any of us can do about it.  The doctors don’t think it’s a good idea to push this off another week and we trust them.  There is a slight chance he’ll be up to it for a little while and we even had a friend offer to take him there and back if he’d like to make an appearance.

My in laws are going to come and spend some time here this week to help me out with the girls so I can be at the hospital with Steve.  I will try to update you all as soon as I can but I can’t guarantee when that will be.

Today we had a nice 2 hour visit with our priest and he did the anointing of the sick prayer with us and anointed Steve with holy oil.  It was beautiful and exactly what we all needed!  Tomorrow the girls and I will go to church and say an extra pray for Steve and his surgeons.

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