*Don't worry, there's no gore below, just the details of the meeting with the surgeon.
Modern medicine is amazing - I have a CAT scan in one building and moments later my doctor is able to review the results in another building.
Based on navigating from one building to another and his being with another patient this all took a little longer than a "moment," but he really only needed a few minutes to look at the scan, know exactly what he was looking for and come out to the lobby to tease us with joining him in one of the consultation rooms.
My first question (after seeing "50/50," a movie I should not have seen) was "has the tunor responded to the chemo treatments?" But, unlike the movie (thank god), the doctor came back with a very positive response. So positive in fact that he is no longer sure we will need to remove and replace the aorta, no longer sure we will be replacing or repairing veins and arteries and is now hopeful that the clot that was evidenced in the prior scan might no longer be there.
That was all pretty phenomenal news to me, Thom and Debbie, three people in the room who had a deep hidden fear we might be receiving parting gifts.
Funny aside: When I said to the doctor that I know the operation will be difficult and "I know you won't know what you're doing until after you open me up and have a look," he immediately interjected, "I'll know what I'm doing" and gave me a look. So, the update to you guys is that we don't know the extent of the surgery NOW, but the doctor is having a 3D model made up from this CAT scan and that will give him and us a better idea of what he will find.
While this all sounds really good we will not really know what surgery will require until he has knife in hand, and of course I'll be anesthetized so I'll have to fill you all in later.
The doctor himself was very pleased with the progress that has been made. He reminded us of the condition I was in when he first met me last July and my head was the size of a pumpkin, my neck like a linebacker's and my upper body extremely swollen. He reached out with his hand and said 'Congratulations - I really did not think I would ever be able to say those words to you."
At any rate, the news he gave could not have been better. I will have a PET Scan next week that will be looking to see if the cancer has spread to any other parts of my body (highly unlikely based on recent tests and the 40 hours of chemo I have completed), but he wants to make sure.
And then we set a date for surgery - a very ugly and serious surgery, but the best shot we have to put this all behind us - Yay!
The following day I had the breakdown of all breakdowns. I was alone in the house in a hot shower, following a call from my very pleased Oncologist who had seen the CAT scan, but not even spoken with the surgeon yet.
Apparently that conversation and his enthusiasm about our journey were the tipping point: There were tears, there was moaning and I am pretty sure there were deep primal screams and the pounding of fists - Seven months worth.
FYI: I am a guy who used to hyper-ventilate just visiting someone in the hospital and now for the past seven months I have been needle pricked and poked and tubed and drained and IV'd and Emergency Roomed and hospitalized and radiated and chemo therapied within an inch of my life.
With surgery in the offing I am now in a quasi-conscience-like state awakening from some nightmare. While I wouldn't have thought I was the kind of guy who could pull myself together and get through this, I do know that I gained my strength because I was never alone in this - not ever, not for a moment and for that I thank you.