I’d like to give all of you the latest on Mary. So much happened, and I have sent so many sporadic messages at various stages–I think the best thing to do is just start from the beginning of this week, and take you all up to the present. So here goes.
We came to the Mayo Clinic this week for Mary’s three-month check. As you probably know, Mary’s pelvic exenteration surgery was almost exactly two years ago. It was a major success. That said, for a little over a year now, Dr. Langstraat (Mary’s superstar GYN Onc surgeon at Mayo) and her team have been tracking a tiny little spot on her right lung that showed itself in a high res CT. Mary had already had a couple of spots show up in the high res CT scans that were not cancer, and this tiny spot was so slow growing, the team had not been particularly concerned about it. In fact, as recently as three months ago, this spot had grown so slowly, Mary’s docs said “we don’t think this is cancer. But we have to be sure of what it is.”
Sure enough, after the scans, the spot was still there, and now it was 8mm. The decision was made to surgically remove the nodule and biopsy it once it was out. Simultaneous diagnostic action and treatment. We were nervous enough to ask Kiri to fly in for the surgery, and she arrived Thursday.
Friday morning, Mary had the surgery. A right lobe resection of a pretty small area of the lung. Unfortunately, the nodule was a tumor. Adenocarcinoma. Probably from the tumor that was removed two years ago. Mayo get’s prelim frozen section results instantly. The good news is it’s been extremely slow growing. It literally grew 4mm in 14-months.
I spent last night in Mary’s hospital room, and more than a few tears were shed. Afterwards, it was tough to say the least. Phone calls were made to closest friends. Last night I also discovered on the portal a PET scan has been scheduled for Tuesday. (So, we will be here for a few more days! Mary needs to recover more anyway, but Mary is so toughened from the big pelvic surgery, she amazed everyone to the point that they released her this afternoon. We are in the hotel room. Staybridge Suites. Home away from Home. Watching an old Dr. Who on Iowa PBS).
This morning, Dr. Langstraat consulted with Dr. Alpa Nick, the first GYN onc surgeon that treated Mary back at MD Anderson. Many of you will remember Alpa’s name. Alpa, who practices in Nashville now for family reasons, has offered us hope twice when things seemed their most dark. Alpa was the whole reason we wound up at Mayo. She and Dr. Langstraat presented us with three options: 1. Continue to simply observe–which they didn’t recommend; 2. Chemo–again not recommended for a variety of reasons, and 3. A two-year cycle of immunotherapy, which they did recommend.
So, after some family conversation, we have decided to do immunotherapy, pending the recommendation of the Mayo tumor board which meets on Friday and pending the PET scan results. Alpa said there will be minimal and possibly no side effects. Dr. Langstraat also said there was no risk. Since the high res CT scans have never shown anything else, this treatment will be strictly to heighten the chances that a new metastatic tumor will not show up again. I can tell you Mary is here beside me right now and you would never guess she just had surgery. She is an astounding woman.
I will say this: before we came here our prayer was that Mary would be cancer free, that the nodule be gone, and her previous surgical site would be further healed (which it is). While this is not the path we envisioned for all of those things to come true, assuming the PET is clear, they have.
Having Kiri here has been a huge help. She is nothing but pure positivity and love. A wild fountain of love, splashing everyone that comes near. And Mary is so determined and deeply spiritual. She keeps saying “God is in this. This is part of our spiritual journey.”
Allow me to say we are so appreciative of so many that have reached out. We have so many wonderful, incredible friends. (And this board…wow…it has been a safe haven for so many years). We value you all. We also appreciate your prayers.
This is our feeling: Mary’s immune system was really beat up for a good while after the huge surgery two years ago, and it was likely in those following weeks and months that this metastasis occurred. Now, her immune system is back to normal. And normal for her is super strong. Add in immunotherapy–and I believe it when all of Mary’s docs have said that there is every reason to be hopeful and optimistic that this prophylactic treatment will work, and Mary will never have another tumor.
That is our hope. That is our prayer. That is our sacred intention.
Love to all of you. Thank you for supporting my family.
Namaste and God Bless