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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another day down

Today was the 2nd day after his surgery and Dad is doing well. Doc said his X-rays look great and that the lung will heal nicely. The incision doesn't look too bad, either, but I know it is going to suck real bad as it begins to heal. The hardest part as a family, we still face. I see how frustrated and upset my dad gets and how angry that makes him and this doesn't bode well for the mental healing to come.
We still have a LONG road to go, because this wasn't even the main concern with the cancer. This took priority due to the location, but it metastasized from the tumor in his quad, so we still have to get that figured out.
This is how it breaks down, so far: his tumor was about 7.9" long, 5.5" wide and 4.7" deep at the last measurement. I believe that this was back in the beginning of July. There is clear evidence of necrosis within the tumor (it's dying) though I haven't been told how much. The official diagnosis is soft tissue sarcoma, though I haven't been given a subtype as yet and I also have not been told whether or not it has been staged. From what little research I've done (and trust me that was too much) there are 3 or 4 factors that go into staging the sarcoma. It depends on the depth and size of the tumor as well as the "grade" and whether or not it has spread to or beyond the lungs. Apparently the lungs is the first party it holds when it's decided that it's traveling time. The mass in his upper lobe of the left lung was about 1/2" across, they tested the margins (took a little extra all the way around) and the lymph nodes and both tests returned negative. The mass itself was returned positive and was also confirmed to be the offspring of the original mass in his leg.
Now, all of this sounded horrifying to me until the Oncologist put it all into perspective in the beginning.
The tumor in his leg is only about 15% of the size of his muscle, due to the size of the muscles in his leg. He's worked construction or construction related jobs all of his adult life. In the typical person with average sized quad muscles, this would typically equate to around 30% or so. This is really good news. As for the lungs, the MRI's were showing these spots from day 1 and they were assumed to be scarring or calcification from his history of his line of work and possibly from the extensive exposure to concrete dust. The Drs have kept an eye on them since they first saw them. There were 3 in the left lung, 2 of which went away, the other stayed at around 1/4" in size from March until the beginning of July, which is when they noticed that it had grown. He's had at least 1 MRI every month since the diagnosis. In the right, there is definitely showing of 1 mass around 1/4" or a little less and it's too deep into the tissue to remove right now. There is also a possible 2nd mass, but the last MRI wasn't clear enough for the thoracic surgeon to be positive about a call.
He has gone through the highest and strongest dose of chemotherapy that is given to humans, 3 days every 21 for 8 hours/day from March 12 to the end of May. Then he was told to wait for a few weeks and to get the radiation done, which he did every day for 6 weeks, I think. That radiation totally microwaved the meat in his leg where the tumor was, but it did it's job by beginning the dying process int he primary tumor, after which we needed to wait about 3 weeks for it to heal so he can have the tumor removed without making hamburger out of the tissue in his leg. Unfortunately the musculo-skeletal oncologist admitted to dropping the ball and said that he should have started Dad on radiation the very next Monday after chemo was over.
The entire length of the chemo treatment, my father was doing great. He was a bit nauseous, but was only really sick one time. That was the fault of one of the receptionists in the office changing his arrival time and them having to administer an 8 hour treatment in less than 4, as not to screw up the whole rotation of chemo that had been worked out.
We were told that after the chemo and radiation were done, we were looking at a 2 or 3 week wait until the surgery would be scheduled to remove the primary tumor, if everything went as planned. Naturally when the Dr told us how well everything was going, we got excited that things would possibly be happening up to 2 months earlier than we originally planned. WELL, then here we are.
I think the worst part of all of this is the mental state I see my father falling into and not being able to do anything about it or help him at all. He was quite pissed earlier because of the physical situation he's been put in with this surgery. My father is a very independent and private person. He is the kind of person that doesn't walk around his own house without a shirt on. Unfortunately, the glass fishbowl of the ICU didn't have that type of atmosphere and when you add that to the fact that the nurses don't worry about whether your curtains are closed when they undress you and that your toilet facilities are minimally concealed by a very thin curtain, you get a very angry man on your hands. He's also dealing with a lot of anxiety and experienced his first panic attack last night. Now that he was finally transported to a private room, things should hopefully get a little easier for him.
Rumor has it that he's supposed to be released tomorrow sometime, but it's dependent on his level of function and ability when the Dr comes in to see him. So, if you've been praying for us, please keep it going. We all could use it, but mostly my dad, he needs to be calm and find some quiet and peace for at least a few minutes every few hours and to look at what he'll have once this is all over.
Thanks for "listening" to me ramble. Go have an adventure, or sleep in and waste the day tomorrow. But whatever you do, enjoy it and tell those that complain about it to kiss your ass and mind their own freaking bees wax!!!

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