January 29, 2005
Well, as many of you know, Todd and I drove out to Pittsburgh last Wednesday and have much to tell you.
First of all, we felt really comfortable with Dr. Bartlett, the surgical oncologist at the Hillman Cancer Center. He spent a great deal of time with us and answered all of our questions in regards to Todds prognosis and the surgery. After our appointment we scheduled the surgery for February 23rd at Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh.
In the last update, I told you that Todd would have a laparoscope to determine the status of the remaining tumors. Well, thats not quite the case. In fact, Dr. Bartlett will perform an invasive surgery called a laparotomy. A laparotomy goes something like this: Dr. Bartlett will make an incision below Todds rib cage to the pelvic area. He will look around to see if there are any tumors in Todds organs: gallbladder, kidney, liver, etc. If he sees tumors, he will begin to remove the tumors which might mean removing parts of, or all of, the effected organs. Obviously, there are certain vital organs that cannot be removed and so, Dr. Bartlett will just remove effected sections.
In combination with the laparotomy, Dr. Bartlett will place a heated chemotherapy infusion directly onto the peritoneum (the abdominal cavity lining). As you know, Todds Colon Cancer spread out to his peritoneum and the tumors have cemented themselves in such a way that they cannot be removed. And so, what the heated chemotherapy infusion proposes to accomplish is the eradication of these tumors so that they cannot spread any further.
The surgery will take about 4-6 hours and Todd will be in the hospital in Pittsburgh for about 10 days as he recovers. Once I get him home, he will have an additional 4-6 weeks of recovery time.
Secondly, we were able to get a better understanding of øthe big pictureÓ and of what our lives will be like for the next six months or so. As I mentioned above, Todd will have about 4-6 weeks of recovery time. Once he is completely recovered we will have a grace period of about 8-12 weeks until we will begin the same chemotherapy regimen that he went through from August to January. We looked at our calendars and estimated that he should be recovered from the surgery in the beginning of April and should resume his chemotherapy in June.
Todd and I had a lot of time to talk about everything on our drive home to New Jersey. The medical team gave us two options. The first option is that we could simply monitor Todds cancer by CAT scans, blood work, and MRIs. Or, we could opt to aggressively attack the cancer in Todds body with the surgery. We feel that the surgery is the only option we have at the moment and we are willing to face the challenges it will present head on. Hopefully, the results of the surgery will keep us one step ahead of the cancer.
I hope I have cleared things up for you and if I havent please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Believe me, Todd and I had many questions for the Doctor and, inevitably, we still have some lingering questions.
I hope you are all well and that you will continue to support Team Gov in the months ahead. Yes, our season just got a little longer but we still plan on having a winning record at the end.
For now, Todd and I are going to relax and enjoy these next few weeks. We plan to exercise as much as possible so Todd can be as physically fit as possible before his surgery. And, as always, we welcome visitors anytime should you want to visit us at the Jersey Shore.
Lots of Love,