At the time the cancer had spread to who knows how many new locations and a bunch of other scary stuff like that.
Then there was this post.
That day we learned that the cancer wasn't near Anne-Marie's collarbone and hadn't spread any further than the chest cavity. We knew that the team at Compass would push us to investigate further, most likely with a biopsy in the chest area.
However, Dr. Smith had mercy on us and honored our request to not be scheduled for anything in late January/early February so we could go to Disneyland. By the time Compass figured out we were back from California, they considered everything urgent and immediately scheduled us for a consult with a pulmonologist (respiratory specialist) which led to being scheduled for a biopsy. Dr. Smith told us the biopsy was being performed in order to "molecularly analyze" the cancer. Getting a look at the cell structure of the cancer cells in the newly-enlarged lymph nodes was the best way to find a more effective treatment. (Whatever you say, doc.)
The biopsy was to be surgical in nature in that we would be at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital, have an anesthesiologist and be in a short stay room. The procedure would be camera-guided through Anne-Marie's airway to the target location near the sternum. The tissue samples would then be extracted with a needle and immediately analyzed on site by the pathologist.
On Thursday, February 16, we went in for the chest biopsy ordered by Dr. Smith and The Vancouver Clinic. I don't think I've ever been less nervous on hospital day. The morning was boring for the most part. We did the paperwork, waited the normal two hours, said a simple prayer and they wheeled her back to the OR.
Cafeteria, staring out the window, waiting room. I have a routine. It's not superstition, but it is methodical. I know how to distract myself just enough but not cause any unnecessary stress. I want to be relaxed enough for the doctor to come into the waiting room and tell me anything.
I also know how long the procedures are supposed to take. This time the doctor was a little late. Not enough to be worried, but late. He came quickly into the waiting room.
"Is it all right if we talk here?"
"Sure. That's fine."
"I'm sorry I'm late. We tried and tried but we took a bunch of samples from different areas and we couldn't find any cancer."
"Really?" (Relaxation regimen had not prepared me for this type of news.)
"Yes. The results are preliminary, but were so clearly some kind of benign granuloma that after that many tries we decided to stop."
"OK. Doctor, this is very unexpected. We're here because of the cancer."
"It is apparently some other type of inflammation on the scans."
"Well, can I go see her?" (I start to get up.)
"No. I just finished five minutes ago, cleaned up and walked here. She's in recovery now. They will call you back within the next hour."
|Granuloma. It's what they found near the collarbone, too.
When I got back to the room Anne-Marie was awake. I waited until the nurse left before I asked, "Has the doctor talked to you yet?"
I won't share it here, but you can imagine the conversation and the joy that followed. We were back home before the kids even got out of school.
Fast-forward a week to Friday, February 24. Post-op with Dr. Smith. It was planned even before we went in for the procedure, but for a totally different purpose. This was the day we were to learn the new treatment plan developed from the molecular analysis of the cancer.
They had nothing to analyze. And Dr. Smith told us the obvious: the result of last week's biopsy was very good news. No presence of cancer in Anne-Marie's lymph nodes did put us on a brand new treatment plan. The new plan is to maintain and resist against the one place where they believe cancer is still located in the upper left lung.
Anne-Marie is now required to get a shot every two to four weeks to help keep any rogue cells at bay. The injection has few side effects and will combine with the quarterly CT and bone scans to make sure everything is still OK. No chemo. No harsh hormonal treatments. That's all. Seeya in a couple weeks.
So since everything changed back in December, everything changed. And it just keeps getting better.
We are thankful to God for His mercy and know these are miraculous results. The doctors have worked very diligently to make sure this wasn't what they thought it was and believe they have provided us with a thoroughly-sought-out solution and we appreciate that. We're also thankful for all of you and your prayers, kind words, text messages, gifts. It's meant so much more than you'll ever know. We don't know exactly what's next, but believe that we can see this last tumor killed off, too.
To God be the glory for the things He's done thus far.
Now maybe we can move on and talk about Disneyland.