Surgery Day Updates
Stay tuned to this post for ongoing updates (these are being posted to Facebook and copied here)..
12/17/15 @ 12:40 p.m.
She’s in. This procedure will take at least five hours. I’m so heartsick right now. She was really scared and they had a hard time placing the I.V. because she was dehydrated. I hate that the O.R. is so familiar to me. I’m tired of watching her go through surgery after surgery and then not get better. It’s the first time since she got sick that I’ve felt truly angry that we drew the short straw. I’m finding it very difficult to stay positive and strong.
12/17/15 @ 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Yamashiro just came and gave us an update after visiting the O.R. and checking on Ana. He said everything’s going very well, and that many of the tumors have been removed including the one by her liver. Dr. Kato has also taken out some smaller tumors that weren’t seen on the CT or PET scans. This is actually pretty standard with tumor removal (removing stuff that hasn’t been visualized on a scan). We’re still not sure when surgery will be over – hopefully soon. Thanks for keeping Ana in your thoughts today – we’ve felt a lot of emotions throughout the day, but we’ve never felt as though we’re alone.
12/17/15 @ 7:40 p.m.
Ana’s out of surgery and in the pediatric ICU (PICU). She was awake and in a lot of pain – turns out they were giving her morphine which we learned during the last hospital stay doesn’t really control her pain – it just makes her nauseous and woozy. So they switched her to a drug called dilaudid and she immediately drifted off to sleep. She is so fierce. At one point she was saying it hurt a lot and one of the nurses said, “Okay, sweetie, we’re waiting for the new drug. We don’t want you to be in pain.” And she said, “Well, I am.” Thankfully the nurse smiled…
Dr. Kato was able to remove the tumors in Ana’s pelvis and near her liver fairly easily though he had to make two incisions. He reopened her transplant incision and also used the old incision in her pelvis, so I guess the good news is she’ll have no new scars, but now she has lots of healing to do.
The tumor in her pelvis on the left side – the one that was the red flag on the day after Thanksgiving, was necrotic (dead tissue) and may have even had some infected tissue in it, though that’s unclear. It wasn’t actually an infection, but something about the tumor hurt Ana and was likely causing the low grade fevers she’s been experiencing on a daily basis. If we could only figure out what killed that tumor…
While it was good news that Dr. Kato could remove a lot of tumors and also that the tumors were mostly contained and not involving any organs (there was some concern that she might lose one or both ovaries, for example), the news isn’t all good.
First, they found a lot more tumors than they expected. There are at least five tumors in her lower intestine that they couldn’t remove because it would involve taking too much intestine. (apparently it’s difficult to visualize tumors in the intestine in scans). They did remove some of these intestinal tumors, but they also had to remove about 40 cm of bowel. That sounds like a lot, but Dr. Kato said it’s actually a small amount of bowel (10% or so). Ah, yeah, 10% of bowel still sounds like a lot, but apparently it’s not enough to effect bowel function. He also said that Ana’s cancer is behaving a lot like a sarcoma, and sometimes sarcomas grow rapidly after surgery, “almost as if the surgery triggered the cancer growth.” They don’t know why, but the point is that in a month or two, she may be back in the position of having a pelvis full of tumor.
This was very much a gamble for more time with Ana. I know that. But I wasn’t ready to let the tumors keep growing and neither was Ana. We did this. We’re here now and now is all we have. In this moment, our focus is her recovery, her comfort, and bringing her home.