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Stem To Stern

That's what the surgeon said...they are going to open me up from stem to stern. It's official. The colonoscopy date is set, the surgery date is set and things are moving VERY quickly. It's a really good thing, but it's also terrifying.


Before this all happened, I was "healthy." I mean sure, I have epilepsy, but I never broke bones, never needed stitches or surgery....so all of this surgery and hospitalization (not related to giving birth) is relatively scary stuff for me.


But I digress.


On May 16th I get to have my first colonoscopy to make sure that the CT scans and MRI's didn't miss anything. I'm pretty sure I'm looking forward to that less than the actual surgery, which is, in a word, intense.


Surgery will be the day after our wedding anniversary, so May 26th. I don't have a time yet, I believe I'll get that the night before, however it's likely to be VERY early in the morning as this surgery will be anywhere from 6-14 hours (based on what they need to do, most likely 14 hours)


From my Seester Katie's notes from my surgery consult, surgery will include:

  1. Exploratory laparotomy (~20 min, this is to look around at the abdominal cavity to make sure there are no tumors that were not identified on the CT scans/MRIs/colonoscopy).

  2. Resection of liver lesions (removal of all the visible tumors from the liver).

  3. Ablation of liver lesions (targeted radiation to small liver tumors that are identified by ultrasound during the surgery)

  4. Resection of the right colon (could be more if colonoscopy indicates more tumors are present; will also remove the affected lymph nodes)

  5. Resection of the remaining ovary & fallopian tubes (will only remove the uterus if there is evidence of tumors on laparotomy)

  6. Cyto reduction as indicated (removal of any additional tumors observed during the surgery, likely to include removal of the peritoneal tissue [lining of the stomach cavity])

  7. HIPEC - hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (essentially heated chemotherapy that is circulated within the abdominal cavity for 90 min,

I will likely be in the hospital recovering for 14 days post surgery, and once released I will not be able to lift anything heavier than a milk jug for a long time. Recovery will take 3-5 months, though the first 3 weeks will be the hardest by far. There are enough small tumors in the liver that some will likely remain. The doctors were very clear that I will never be in remission, but the goal is to remove all the existing tumors and to monitor and treat to keep the cancer suppressed going forward. The surgeon referred to it as “cancer whack-a-mole”, with frequent scans to catch any forming liver tumors while they are still small and treatable by ablation or radiation. Hopefully metastases in other organs do not occur, but this is also a possibility.


During recovery I'll have some days where food will be amazing and some days where I'll take a bite of food and instantly vomit. I'll end up losing about 10-15% of my body weight.


Tough, intense surgery and recovery, but they said because I'm young and healthy (?!?!?!? Uhm, I have cancer, and I'm fat so I think we have different definitions of healthy, but we're going to roll with it), they are going with the really aggressive route to give me the best overall quality of life and longevity.


Thoughts are that after a few months I will go back on a reduced amount of chemo once my body has healed enough from this surgery and the "hot chemo" as I like to call it.


SO, that's where we are! Pretty massive update!


Next up, I have some pretty great photos from our loooong weekend to St Louis and building great memories with the boys.


Much love,


Browen



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