Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Time Has Come...

We just got back from Boston (2AM Wednesday morning...) as our appointments/meeting with the doctors all went a lot longer than we thought, but it was a GREAT day as once again the news from my latest scans and tests was very positive. I had a cardiac MRI (this one only took 90 minutes...I felt blessed) and a full body PET/CT scan and both brought good news. My primary tumor continues to shrink as it's roughly 25% of the size that it was in October and it's shrunk again since January. The PET/CT scan shows no new lesions or tumors in my organs or bones and the other metastasis' remain the same.

Now for the big news that almost ensures my blood pressure will be high for the next 3-4 weeks. I will be getting two more doses of chemotherapy (5/1 and 5/8) and then it's time for the surgery I have been anxiously awaiting (and dreading) since October 13th. I don't have an exact date yet (we expect that by Friday) but it will be very close to Memorial day. I will have chemo on May 8th and must wait 10-14 days after that treatment for surgery so it will fall in that window. I will use my next blog post to update you on why Dr. Butrynksi is recommending we stop chemo (temporarily) for surgery, as this obviously comes with some risk. I have to admit that I was surprised as I completely expected to be coming home for another cycle (12 treatments) of chemo.

We actually spent a lot of time with the surgeon today (Dr. Shakar). Just talking to him about the surgery eases some of the anxiety as he is very knowledgeable and confident. Lucky me, I actually get two surgeries at the same time. The main surgery involves resecting the tumor from my heart and rebuilding my right atrium. They will also remove any scar tissue that exists as a result of the shrinking tumor. To rebuild the atrium they will either take a piece of my pericardium (the sac around my heart) or use a piece of either a pig or cow heart (cool!). This depends on how much of my atrium they have to remove, and they won't know that for sure until they get in there.

The second thing they are doing is addressing the cancer that's attacking (or past tense attacked...hopefully!) my sternum. I was surprised to learn today that they are going to actually remove my entire manubrium, which is the large bone at the top of the sternum that anchors the collar bones and top two ribs. They will have to stabilize my collar bones with a plate and won't need to re-attach those two ribs to anything. I was told this will leave a big depression (dip) in my upper chest as the plate will only be used to stabilize the collar bones and won't cover the entire area.

The surgery itself will take from 4-6 hours and I will be put on the "Heart and Lung Machine" while they work on my heart. We were told that I would be in the Intensive Care Unit for 1.5 days after surgery and then at the hospital for 6 days after so it looks like I could be in the hospital for up to 8 days. There is a chance I will need a pacemaker immediately, and if that's the case it will be done a few days after surgery, and may extend my stay by a day or two. I was told that I would be "out of commission" for 6-8 weeks which doesn't seem bad considering the type of surgery. I am positive I will be on the low end of that and plan on being back on my feet much sooner...

So, there's that...the day I have been waiting for since getting diagnosed is less than a month away. As I learn more about the surgery and what I should expect, I will keep updating (if people keep reading!). Thanks Shana, Mom, Dad, Matt, Liz, Joan and Michelle for coming to Boston with between all the tests, injections and appointments, we all found some time to have fun. We went to the Yankee/Red Sox game on Sunday night...all of us decked out in our Yankee gear (except Shana with her Sox stuff) and we were actually treated pretty well (maybe the felt bad for us with the sweep and all...). Check back over the weekend!!


Anonymous said...

Will and Shana!

What GREAT NEWS!! I waited all day for the call to hear how things went and was SOO happy to hear that no new spots and that the primary tumor had shrunk! We will see you soon! If you need anything we are always here!
Love You Both!
Steph, Darryl and kids

Anonymous said...

This is such fabulous news! I had chills reading this update and believe in the power of prayer. I'll keep up the praying and thinking of you. Thanks for the update and I LOVE that the "The Time Has Come..." :-)

Anonymous said...

Excellent News Will! I am so happy for you (and Shana). We will keep praying for you. - Marianne & Scott

Andy Wiechmann said...

That's awesome news Will - definitely keep posting for us. I check this site all the time. Olivia, Marty, Lindsay and I are all thinking about you and Shana. Keep the good news coming!

- The Mayor

The perez's said...


Fantastic News!! Were so happy about the prognosis. We wish we could have been there with you to celebrate. We miss you and are thinking of you everyday.

Love, Toni, Carlos, Elena & Jon.

Anonymous said...

That's great news Will. Paul and I will continue to keep update through Joan and your blog.
Love you!

Uncle Paul & Aunt Terri XXX

Grammie W. said...

I keep my "Will Power" wrist band on my PC at work and send out a positive thought for you everytime I glance at it. Sounds as if everyone's good wishes are working. Add to that your own great strength and determination and that cancer doesn't stand a chance.

Anonymous said...

Will, Shana and Family,

We were Cheering when we heard the wonderful news! You're WINNING!
It was Great also to see and spend time in MB for Easter with everyone! We're thinking of you all everyday and if you need anything we're here.

Love, Cousin Karen, Tom and Boys :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to put so much detail here - it really helps the rest of us to understand (and we're SO impressed by your command of medical geek-speak. What next? Writing for House or Grey's Anatomy?) The news all sounds good - we're very, very happy.

Love you,
Aunt Kate

The Austin's said...

Hi Will and Shana,

Can't tell you how happy we are that "the time has come." That's the best news I have heard in a very long time. We will keep sending the prayers your way. I will be smiling all day in your honor.

Keep up the "goode" work.

With love and support,

Barb, Carl and kids

John said...

Hi, Will:

Great news on the surgery. Looking forward to seeing you in Boston.

Kind regards,

John McKenney

Joyce said...

Will & Shana,
We couldn't be happier for you! Once again, your positive attitude just blows me away. I keep you in my prayers all the time. I also appreciate all the medical stuff you're teaching us. We check the blog all the time and love getting the updates. Kepp them coming and God bless,
Ajuma Joy

Liz said...

Had a GREAT time in Boston with you guys, although the sox won (boo) the great news made the trip perfect. I am looking forward to the next month, I know its weird, who looks forward to surgery? I do! It is scary but a very brave next step that you decided to make. And I will be there for you and with you every minute! Keep up the fight, I know that you are going to beat this stupid cancer's butt. You are superman!! Love you!


Anonymous said...

Will and Shana!!!
What great news!!! We love you both so much and are ready for the next step. We will be at your side every step of the way.
Will, you are truely amazing and such a brave, wonderful son. WE will beat this!!
We Love You Both
Mom and Dad

Anonymous said...

The trip to Boston couldn't have held better news! No new spots was the best news ever!!! It was great to hear the doctor say "I am encouraged". We are looking forward to our next trip, a big step in this roller coaster ride lined with prayers, hugs, tears, joys and dinners at PF Chang's. We love you and Shana more than we can say. Mumsie and Michelle

Anonymous said...