By now most of you know the story. Over the last several months I have been watching Brenda's neck getting thicker and I really thought our personal trainer was getting a little too aggressive with her back workouts! As Brenda put it...she was beginning to look like a line-backer.
We left for our trip to Tahiti on March 9th and every time I looked at Brenda's neck, I continued to be concerned. Something just wasn't right. On the trip our friend Karen, an ICU nurse, also noticed the swollen nodes and when I asked her what she thought, she suggested we talk to our friend Amanda, a doctor, who was traveling with us. Both Amanda and Karen were quite concerned but didn't want to ruin our vacation so as true medical professionals, they strongly but gently suggested that Brenda see our GP when we got home.
Brenda did that on Wednesday March 25th and our GP immediately (like that day) sent her to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. He discovered a "MASS" in her sinus cavity and proceeded to take some samples to biopsy. To put it in Brenda's terms...he tried to pull her brain out of her nose." Got the visual? She then went for a CT/PET scan on March 31st and we went back to Dr. Heiland (the ENT) on April 1st to hear some news.
Who says the universe doesn't have a sense of humor...on April 1st, the doc told us that Brenda had cancer in her sinus cavity that had traveled to her neck lymph nodes. The air was sucked out of the room with that news. He really didn't like this beast at all and bumped another patient to get her into surgery on Friday April 3rd. Talk about moving fast. Thank heaven the train was moving fast, but it certainly was hard to hang on!!!
It was at that point that we really started rallying our loved ones into Brenda's Healing Village...this was nasty and it was going to take everyone pulling together and reaching out for prayers and positive energy to beat this thing back. The power of the "PACK" is an awesome thing.
Our dear, dear friends from Pittsburgh...Cal and Vic...had planned for months to come and visit. They were due to arrive on the 2nd. The amazing thing is that Vic is an internal medicine doctor. How lucky we were that they both were here to help us understand all the medical mumbo-jumbo that was beginning to fly around our heads and to support and help us through these next crappy days. There are NO accidents in the universe!
If you know Brenda, when I asked how she'd like to spend the night before her surgery, she said, "Let's have a Tumor Be Gone Party." So that's exactly what we did. All our dear friends here in Phoenix rallied at our house for one of the most hysterical...as in laughter...parties we have had. I got a bunch of Ding Dongs (individual snack cakes) and each of us decorated them like the tumor in Brenda's head. Then each, in turn, and with much gusto, destroyed their tumors. I have this on video if there are any doubters out there. Those damn tumors were crushed, stabbed, chewed up and spit out, hammered into mush, blended, yelled at, and I even got on my Tahitian shirt and pareo (Tahitian cloth that you wrap around your waist), took my shoes and socks off to display my new Tahitian tattoo on my foot, and war danced to the dining room table where we were. I then proceeded to jump up on the table and stomped and ground the tumor into chocolate mush with my tattoo foot. Do you have the visual? That damn monster just didn't know what it was up against.
Friday was absolutely horrible...our friends again rallied at the surgical center and we began the long wait. Let me just say that that was the worst day of my life and then it ended up with a huge sky full of hope. Going into the surgery, the doctor gave Brenda and I a very bleek picture of the outcome. But after 3+ hours of work, the doc walked into the waiting room where we all were...(the air was sucked out of the room again)...and he gave us fabulous news and a rainbow full of hope...he was able to remove the entire tumor that sat at the base of Brenda's brain and had invaded her sinus...THROUGH HER NOSE!!! AMAZING!! He got a lot of hugs that afternoon! The monster was a "moderately differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma." It was nasty and rare. Brenda never get's normal things!!!
Brenda even got to come home last night...YEA!!!... and had a relatively calm evening reclined in our living room chair with a vaporizer going. It was sooooo reassuring having her home resting in the chair like nothing was wrong.
The next path is to get the bale of gauze stuffed up her nose out and then to schedule to have the affected lymph nodes in her neck OUT! The doc wants them out as quickly as possible. We think that should be in about a week to 10 days. OUT! OUT! OUT! NOW!!!
The doc also suggested that we travel to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which is the center of research for this type of cancer, to see specialists who will staff Brenda's case to outline the best follow-up treatment. Again the universe is directing us...that's where Cal and Vic live and Vic will help lead us through this process and interpret the unique language of doctors and medicine. AMAZING!
So to all our friends who continue to stand by us and help us...you'll never know how much all you love, prayers, support and positive energy means to us. Words escape me, but we love you all. The power of this village is simply amazing...and the healing has begun.
So this blog will help us stay connected and updated on the latest news. This blogging stuff is new to me so we'll just learn as we go. Feel free to share your thoughts, laughs...we love the laughs... and any words of wisdom as we travel this difficult path.
Toodles for tonight...I've got to try and get some shut-eye...we're all pooped!