Brian had a pretty good day today. Matthew and Angelina arrived today and we met baby Octavia for the first time. My eyes welled up with tears as soon as she was placed in my arms. Its pure joy to hold a new baby. She has new baby smell and she is an expert cuddler.
Brian is tired and remains quiet for the most part, but we still have our moments. Up until a couple of days ago, he would still say, “I love you” back to me, but now he usually just answers yes or no questions. Today, as I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment, I went in and held his hand to say goodbye. I told him I loved him, and he just looked back at me, but then he raised my hand to his lips and kissed it. He’s still in there.
I met with the liver specialist today. He was amiable and competent. I feel comfortable with the plan of care, however I wish it were going to be a one and done deal. As it turns out, I will have two procedures. He will surgically biopsy the liver lesion on Wednesday during the nephrectomy. The lesion is located adjacent to the portal vein. The whole body’s blood volume passes through this vein every few minutes. Because of this, ablation isn’t an option, and its also not feasible to resect the mass. So I will have to heal from my surgery and then have a TACE procedure. That stands for transcatheter arterial chemoembolization. Basically, they will run a catheter up through my femoral artery, and all the way to the liver and then deposit chemo beads right near the site of the lesion. This will hopefully take care of that spot.
It was during this conversation that I felt the heavy darkness of worry creeping in. I have honestly felt very positive since last Wednesday when I met with the rest of the team. But with the explanation of the procedures, and the near certainty of the doctor that this is indeed cancer and not a benign mass, I began to feel overwhelmed.
But then we were looking at my pre op labs. The doctor said, “Thank God your APN looked into this.” I got goosebumps as I started thinking about all of the tender mercies that have led me to this point. I need to list them so that I can come back when my heart fails me.
- Had I not been gifted with the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t right after Brian got sick, I wouldn’t have scheduled a physical in the first place.
- Had I not met with such a caring and compassionate APN, who did not think I was crazy paranoid, I may not have been taken seriously, and I probably wouldn’t have scheduled an ultrasound.
- If the liver lesion hadn’t showed up on the ultrasound, I wouldn’t have had an MRI. The ultrasound only showed my right kidney which was normal.
- The MRI showed the completely incidental finding of the three tumors on the left kidney.
- When I was helping care for Grandma Branch, I had a chance meeting with a really great nephrologist who was on her care team. When I got the MRI results, I called him first. It was a Friday afternoon and by Monday morning I was having a biopsy.
- He called in a great urologist to do my surgery. All of this is happening so fast.
- My pre op labs from the other day are normal. The liver enzymes are back to normal. My APN could have had me come back in six months for a recheck of the liver enzymes. This would have been a perfectly appropriate decision. The surgeon said he would have done the same thing. Think about this. If my APN had said come back for a recheck in six months, I would have come back this month or next month. My liver enzymes would be normal, and I wouldn’t have given it another thought.
- This liver specialist has only been in town a few months. But he is so highly recommended. He is just the person I needed to be in on this. I just can’t believe the timing.
Our bodies aren’t perfect. No one gives us cancer, cancer just happens sometimes. Bad things happen sometimes. But I cannot deny that in these anxious days, I truly feel I am being watched over and guided in these important decisions. As heart-wrenching as it is to watch my sweet husband decline, I promised him that I would care for our children always. Maybe our miracle won’t be a spontaneous healing, maybe it is happening right now in all these little ways that my own cancer was discovered. Maybe we found it early enough that I will get to keep my promise to Brian.