Thursday, June 1, 2006

Ryan's mom's surgery

Some of you might remember, a while back, a post (in my other journal, I believe) about Ryan's mom's breast cancer returning. Well, she was on a new treatment (new as in super expensive and revolutionnary type thing) that allowed her not to need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Which means she got to keep her hair, unlike 5 years ago.

Well, the medication is supposed to stop the cancer from growing, and then slowly force it to starve itself to death. The meds don't kill any of the vitamins and elements that are good for you... only whatever the cancer needs to survive.

All was going well, until she went in for a checkup I guess about 2 months ago now.
Test results from a CT/CAT scan showed that there was a mass/shadow on her liver.
Turns out, a cancerous tumor grew in her liver, which is one of the main places where people who have other cancers develop a secondary cancer. The liver is responsible for cleaning up the body (everything except urine, which is done by the kidneys), and so all the blood (that might have "pieces" of cancer stuck to it) gets filtered in the liver. Which is why it's so easy to get a second tumor there.

So after confirming with an MRI and a bunch of blood tests and stuff, Ryan's mom became eligible for a special surgery that only about 5 people in Canada can get. You need to have cancer nowhere else in your body, or more like, no related tumor in your body. Because her original cancer is in her breast, she can have this surgery. After a first date on May 25, the surgery was pushed back to today, June 1rst, 2006.
It is called a resection, where from 3% to 85% of the liver is removed from the body. The surgery takes from 2 to 5 hours to do, and the patient will have to stay in the hospital for at least 6 days, depending on the rapidity of recovery. She will only be able to drink fluids for a bit more than 1 day, and after that, she will slowly be re-introduced to solids. She will be staying in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for at least a couple of days, since about half her liver is going to be removed. The wound needs to be cleaned 3 times a day for 2 weeks, she can't drive for 2 weeks or do any heavy lifting for 3 months. Ryan's mom, the life of the party, always happy and helpful, will be pretty much stuck in bed.

There are many possible side effects and complications, including internal bleeding, pneumonia, infection, breathing and bowel problems... and of course, the one we fear the most, the ultimate complication. Recovery rates in North America for primary resection - remember, this is a secondary resection, but because of the mass of liver to be removed, it could pretty much be considered a primary resection - for 5 year recovery, a study shows that the survival rate is of 27% to 49%. However, that might be because of complications or other related/unrelated causes. The statistic isn't specific. Patients with smaller tumors are more likely to survive. She might have 1 large tumor, or a few smaller tumors, we're not sure. The doctor will see when he/she gets in there. Recurrence rates (the cancer coming back) are of 45% to 70%, most within 2 years of resection. Keep in mind, she can't lose much more of her tumor, or she won't have a liver left. She might need blood transfusions during and after surgery, and if there is a recurrence, she will probably need a liver transfusion. Keep your fingers crossed and knock on wood that everything will be fine.

Of course, this means that the breast cancer treatment might have to change. That's right, we still need to get rid of that one. The next few weeks... even months, will be tough. Ryan and I will be a little bit stressed, edgy, etc. and I apologize in advance for snapping at anyone (unless you really deserve it).

The surgery started this morning at 8:45 EST. Ryan has a few days off to spend with his mom, and his 8 year old brother, who knows what's happening, but doesn't quite get it. He does, however, get the seriousness of the matter, from the reactions of people around him. My mission will be for his (Spencer's) well-being, between work hours, which, by coincidence and thankfully, I only have 8 of next week. Ryan will be focusing on his mom, but will be going back to work on Monday night, unless there are serious complications.

Thanks to all of you for reading all of this. Thanks in advance for your support and well wishes.

I will update you as soon as we know what is happening.

*hugs* and *kisses*

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