I am about to experience the wonders of surgery at Miami Valley Hospital.
I met with my surgeon yesterday. She is a delightful woman from Austria, and I felt comfortable with her immediately upon meeting her. She’s a bundle of energy.
My entourage consisted of Cousin Joe (driver), Cousin Kim (note taker), and my mom. Originally, I had planned to drive myself, but at the last minute I asked Joe to drive me because I found I was having a kind of panic attack and I wasn’t sure I could safely drive the car.
So, The Surgeon wanted to do a quick exam before she talked to us about what’s what. She sent my entourage off to a conference room and it was just the two of us in the exam room. She had me sit on the exam table and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I said, “Can you tell what stage I’m in? Can you give me any details to what kind of fight I’m facing?”
Surgeon, “You don’t know?”
Me, “No. No one seems to be able to give me any complete answers.”
Surgeon, “You are in a very early stage. You have a very small tumor on your bile duct, about the size of a pimple. We can remove it through a Whipple Procedure. I’ve discussed this with my team. We feel you are an excellent candidate to have this surgery laparoscopically.”
I cried! I laughed! I had to tell my family RIGHT AWAY! I asked her — no I probably told her — that I needed to share this information with my family right now, tears streaming down my face. I was seriously light headed. Like a demented person I went stumbling down the hall way trying to find the conference room. One of the nurses finally took pity on me and led me to it. I burst into the room and told them (especially my mom), “It’s in an early stage! I’m a candidate for laparoscopic surgery!” And we laughed. And cried in relief. Even as I type this, my eyes are wet with relief that it’s not as bad as I thought it was.
I’ve got is Ampullary cancer–which is NOT pancreatic cancer but is often lumped in with pancreatic cancer because the treatment is similar. I have a tumor sitting in my bile duct in close proximity to my duodenum, where the bile duct an pancreatic duct come together and empty into the small intestine. The American Cancer Society says,
“Ampullary cancers often block the bile duct while they are still small and have not spread far. This blockage causes bile to build up in the body, which leads to yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) and can turn urine dark. Because of this, these cancers are usually found at an earlier stage than most pancreatic cancers, and they usually have a better prognosis (outlook) than typical pancreatic cancers.”
I had a PET scan on Wednesday which loaded me up with radioactive sugar water (something cancer cells seem to love), and it seems to indicate that the cancer has not spread to any other organs. There is some concern about my lymph nodes–they won’t know for sure until they actually open me up and look.
“During this operation, the surgeon removes the head of the pancreas and sometimes the body of the pancreas as well. Nearby structures such as part of the small intestine, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder, lymph nodes near the pancreas, and sometimes part of the stomach are also removed. The remaining bile duct and pancreas are then attached to the small intestine so that bile and digestive enzymes can enter the small intestine. The pieces of the small intestine (or the stomach and small intestine) are then reattached as well so that food can pass through the digestive tract. Most often, this operation is done through a large incision (cut) down the middle of the belly.”
Because I’m a non-smoker and in good health (in spite of my extra weight), The Surgeon feels I’m an excellent candidate for the laparoscopic version of this surgery.
I have an excellent surgical team, and an awesome support group on Facebook. I am in warrior mode, a Valkyrie riding off to battle. Keep me in your prayers and keep sending me positive energy. I’m pissed off at this stinking cancer. It’s disrupting my life and causing me hassle, so it’s got to go. Time to go to battle!