Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30th, 2010 - Dr. Alan So, Kidney Surgeon

It's a happy day in Blogdom!! I am literally dancing around the apartment because this has been such a glorious day :) It's like I have a brand new lease on life... amazing how one person's opinion/recommendation can make all the difference in the world!

Ok... so for those who have been reading along about this ongoing adventure know that the latest results from my CAT scan/Ultrasound/blood work has been a mixed bag. The good news... the tumours in both my lungs are stable and have been stable for two years now. The not so good news is that a cyst or growth, about the size of a loonie (for my American friends, a little smaller than a silver dollar) on my left kidney, has started growing. They first noticed this cyst/growth back in Nov 2007 and it has pretty much remained stable until recently. It has grown since July and the oncologist (who is covering for my regular oncologist) I saw a week or so ago say that this is very suspicious. It would be very very RARE for the colon cancer to have spread to either kidney, but then, it did spread to my right adrenal gland, a gland that sits just above each kidney, and that was considered to be a rare place for colon cancer to move to. So, this oncologist who was going over the results with me said that if this ISN'T a spread of the colon cancer, then it could be a new primary cancer - kidney cancer. So, he highly recommended that I be referred to a surgeon who specializes in Urology/Oncology and chances are the left kidney will have to be removed. He explained that a biopsy could not be taken unless the kidney was removed, so there is really no way of telling if it is malignant or not until then, but it's better to be safe and have it removed. A person can live just fine with one kidney.

Today was the day that I went to see Dr. Alan So, who is the kidney surgeon, and also is the Assistant Professor of Urologic Sciences, University of BC, Urologic Oncology. I just love it when you meet a doctor/surgeon for the first time and you click. I felt totally comfortable with Dr. So... and he has a wonderful attitude and personality that not only put me at ease, but he explained things in terms I could understand. He explained that this cyst/growth/mass is in the left kidney, towards the bottom of the kidney. He asked if I had any symptoms, predominantly, any pain. This is where I had to explain to him that I have a high tolerance to pain so if I was having pain, it's quite possibly I haven't noticed it, but since I do have severe arthritic pain, chances are any other kind of pain pales in comparison. Doesn't mean I don't have it, but that I may not have noticed it yet.

So, he said that he went over my file and latest tests and was amazed at just how much I have been through already. He says that this mass is starting to push on the casing of the kidney but he figures he has four options he can offer me and before he tells me which one he would recommend and why, he would like to go over them all with me and see which one I would prefer:

1) surgery where he would cut out the mass and some kidney tissue around it to make sure he removed all traces.

2) surgery to remove the whole kidney

3) RFA - Radio Frequency Ablation - where they stick a needle into the growth and zap it with radio frequency waves that will essentially nuke the growth, leaving only scar tissue.

4) leave it and just monitor it. There's a 40% chance it is a malignant cancer, a 4-5% chance that it might spread over the course of my lifetime and pretty much a 0% chance of it spreading over the next year or so.

This is a whole lot different outlook than what the oncologist said to me. Even on the top of my referral form that Dr. So had, was the word, "URGENT", in other words, surgery was needed immediately if Dr. So agreed that this was malignant. But Dr. So says he disagrees with that thought. He says he has seen many of these growths, in the exact same place where mine is, and there is never any "urgency" to do something about it in a rush without giving it some thought. So, he asked me, out of the 4 options, what did I feel comfortable with. I didn't even hesitate... I said that my #1 choice would be the RFA procedure. I have already had that procedure done on a tumour in my lung and I was amazed at how incredible that procedure is. No fuss, no muss... zap, and the problem is solved (Ok, I know there's probably more to the procedure than that... and that there is some risk as there is with any kind of surgical procedure... but it certainly beats open, abdominal surgery, or the removal of a kidney!).

He was very pleased with my choice because he said that that is exactly the one he would recommend, for those exact reasons. But rather than just rush in and do one of the 4 options, he had one more suggestion. That we wait a couple of weeks, since there really and truly is no rush for this, because he is a member of (and I forget what he called them) but it is a conference committee of oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, and heads of departments, that meet once a month and go over unique cases. I fit in the "unique" case category, because of all that I've been through, the fact I am "young" , and that this really is a unique situation to have this growth in the kidney that quite possibly has nothing to do with colon cancer. Hehehe... this is the second time I will have gone up to a case conference committee... not sure if it is the same one or not, but Sharlene, my regular oncologist, took my case to one of these monthly conferences when they first found that my cancer had spread, making me a Stage IV, incurable case. It was at that conference that it was recommended that I have the right adrenal gland surgically removed and it proved to be a wise decision.

Soooo... I beez one very happy camper! The committee meets in 3 weeks, so we will know in about 3 weeks if we are going to do the RFA or if someone has come up with a better plan.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and I get a second chance at everything plodding along as I get to enjoy retirement :)

Hahaha... meanwhile, things got kind of screwed up this morning. I had a meeting scheduled to meet up with my Financial Guru, Kathy, to do a 4 month review of my investment portfolio. Somewhere, we had a communication breakdown. Her assistant said she emailed me, but I never got the email... and they had to cancel our meeting because Kathy was going to be out of town. Hmmm... I thought that was a little strange since, if she didn't hear back from me saying that's ok, let's rebook, wouldn't the assistant have followed up on that? Oh well, no big deal, but now here I was over in West Vancouver with no meeting, and it's still hours before I had to meet with the surgeon. So what's a girl to do??? Why, go shopping, no? Hahaha... it was one of those good shopping days! So good that the first store I went into, I didn't come out. They had just gotten all new stuff in, and it was one of those rare occasions where I kept finding clothes I loved and they fit!!! OH OH!! $600 later, and a whole heap of new outfits, I finally called it quits because I got tired trying new clothes on!! Two large shopping bags worth... and one of the shop gals carried them out to my car :D

Then, it was off to Staples to pick up some supplies. I needed some folders to start organizing my income tax paperwork. I also needed to get a whole new set of ink cartridges, both for my printer at home and for the TUTS printer, so before I forgot one more time, I did that chore as well :) Am I being productive or what?? :)

Oh...and update on the new bed. In a word, it's PHENOMENAL!! :) But OMG... is there nothing in my life that doesn't involve drama??? On the day it was being delivered, I moved anything that wasn't nailed down out of the bedroom. Hahaha... this old bod is not used to moving/carrying/shoving things around. Then the bed arrives with two guys hauling in the base and then the mattress and setting it up. WELL, they set it up just fine. Everything worked. But, the bed is on wheels (#1 problem) and those wheels, along with the 4" legs for the bed, then the box spring, then the mattress, made the bed so high I was practically looking up to it (#2 problem). I didn't realize this while the two guys were there. I had been told that the bed would be the same height as it was in the store... so didn't notice this until after the guys had left. I should have realized there was a problem when Bridget could not jump up on the bed herself. Bridget can leap tall buildings and has been know to leap up onto a dining room table from a sitting position... but no, she couldn't leap up on the bed. So I had to pick her up and put her on the bed. I then went to get on the bed and because of the wheels the bed went flying across the room! LOL! Every time I sat on the edge of the bed, the bed would go flying. At first, it's comical, until you realize that you are going to have to fight with the bed every time you want to get into it!! I finally solved that problem by putting a chest between the wall and the bed so the bed couldn't move! And then I called the Sleep Shop and told them this just wouldn't work. Even the little locks on the wheels weren't working. The Sleep Shop was very good! This was now 8pm at night, so too late to do anything that night... but the next day, they sent two other guys out at about 11am.... they removed the wheels and that was MUCH better! It only brought the bed down about 2 inches are so, but that 2 inches makes all the difference. Bridget can now jump up on the bed herself... and I can get in much easier ... especially with the bed remaining in one place and there's no fear of it going anywhere from under me ;)

Sooooo... new bed, new clothes and no major surgery makes for one very, very happy camper!!! :D




Melinda said...

Loved reading this post! Positive news and you sound your old happy self xoxoxox

Chet White said...

Great News Cheryl. You do sound very happy like Melinda said and i am glad your bed no longer rolls all around the room. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Wow that option beats the CRAP out of the other three! I am thrilled beyong belief for you my dear! HUGS!


Bonnie said...

Awesome news, for sure!! When reading the options, I said to myself 'RFA' ... and then was please to see you and the doctor agreed with me. LOL. I'm still sorry you have to deal with this, but so grateful it's not urgent. Yay!!!