Monday Morning the 24th we headed up towards the Huntsman to visit with the Radiation Oncologist, and my surgeon, so we could find out the details of what would take place this coming week. At the first appointment we spoke with the team in charge of recommending what will happen in regards to Radiation treatments. Interestingly enough they hadn't gotten the info from the surgeon about my upcoming operation. They were under the impression that we would be starting Radiation treatments by the end of the week. Just a little communication gap. Once we had gotten everything sorted out they informed us that we would still do radiation after the surgery. We are not sure right now as to what kind of radiation they will do, whether a targeted pin point radiation or a more broad area treatment.
If we do the area treatment they will require that I go in every week day, Monday through Friday for about 4-5 weeks. The radiation will only be administered for about 1-5 mins. and then I would go home, Total time at the hospital for radiation would be about 30 mins each day. In preparation for the radiation they will do a series of CT scans to get all the measurements and do all the planning. A mold of my back will be created, an impression of sorts ,so when I lay down on it I will be in the same exact position every time, so as to not "fry" anything they weren't planning on frying. I would be getting 3 small tattoos probably the size of freckles, one on each side of my rib cage and one on my sternum as reference points for the lasers to align themselves on my body. Proper alignment is crucial so they don't damage anything they are not targeting. Side effects include fatigue, irritated throat, and irritated skin. Other than that I should be able to carry out my life as normal, Much different that the chemo I had the first time around where I was literally in bed for 2-3 days after each round, the exhaustion was incredible, and the side effects much worse. If this is the route we go with it sounds like it will be a... can I say, better experience, than the chemo.
As far as the surgery goes, we spoke to the surgeon and were told that after consulting with their team of doctors, they decided that we would just go in through the back, and not the front too. I was relieved!! They felt very confident that they could get the job done that way. He mentioned that the procedure would still be very risky because this time they would try to remove everything they could find in there, Including the remaining parts of the first tumor that they thought to be too risky to remove the first time. The risk will come with the fact that they will be digging around scar tissue and peeling tumor off from my Aorta which is up against my spine. This is also where they thought the tumor originated from, before it moved into T2 and T3. Leiomyosarcoma is a soft muscle tissue cancer. It usually infects muscle tissue that we can't control, such as organs and involuntary muscles. Mine was believed to have started in my Aorta and then metastasized into the spine. An extremely rare circumstance.
They will remove the rods I have in place and then cut out the cages in the T2 location. They will then cut out T3 and probably put 2 more screws into T6, one vertebrae lower that the bottom of my current fusion to add a little more stability. A larger spacer or cage will be placed to span the T2 and T3 locations, and longer rods will be attached to the new and existing screws. The amazing thing is that they don't plan on putting me into a cervical thoracic brace. With my existing screws already being well established in my back they should provide enough support. Pretty crazy when you think about it. They will just unbolt me and do their thing then bolt me back together! Now that is my kind of work!! I guess you can never have enough hardware. I always tend to come home from the local hardware store with a little extra then what I had planned. I guess it applies here too! ;)
We were also told that the tissue healing would take longer this time because it always does the second time you go digging in the same location. I am just elated to not have to use the neck brace, it was such a pain in the...well, neck! (heavy sarcasm there) Things will go well and with the help of the Lord I will heal quickly. I have received many blessings that have given me comfort and whatever the outcome of this will be, we are at peace.