Hello, World! Yesterday, I checked out from you, but I’m back today. The Wallow Day is over and now I’m ready to get on with my life again. The Wallow Day included a complete break from the world, a box of Magnolia cupcakes, and games all day. Days like that allow me to hang on to my normally not-exactly-sunny-but-at-least-I’m-not-killing-myself-or-others disposition on other days.
Now that my outlook is feeling refreshed, I thought I’d share some of the details of the tumor and the upcoming surgery. It’s not particularly gory, so probably it’s fine even for the squeamish. Though consider yourself warned that I’m going to talk about “organs” and not the kind that might make you giggle.
I’ve been fortunate in that if you have to have cancer, I have the kind of cancer you should choose. The tumors of the past, while malignant, have always been non-invasive. As far as cancer goes, non-invasive is definitely what you want to hear. My oncologist did extensive staging during my first surgery in 2003 and discovered smaller tumors in various other non-girly part places, such as on my liver. Because of this, the cancer was staged as IIIA. Anyone who knows anything at all about ovarian cancer knows that stage IIIA is pretty much a death sentence if we’re talking about invasive cancer. For non-invasive, it means a lot of surgery, but not even chemo or radiation. On the one hand it sucks because the only treatment is keep cutting till there’s nothing else to cut out, but on the other hand it totally Does Not Suck because of the whole “I’m not going to die” part.
The type of tumors I’ve had are, according to my oncologist, unlikely to change into the type of tumors that are invasive. However, the most recent CT scan does show a spot behind my bellybutton that has the characteristics of an invasive tumor. The possibility of it having changed to invasive cancer is supported somewhat by some strange biopsy results after my second surgery, which showed that tumor had micropapillary patterns. Micropapillary serous tumors have a slightly higher risk of changing into invasive cancer. The risk is still very low, but it’s definitely elevatyed. However, given my history of recurrence, with it always being non-invasive, Dr. Firm Handshake feels pretty confident that it’s non-invasive this time just like the previous three times.
There will, of course, be frozen section biopsies in the OR as well as a more detailed biopsy following surgery. Dr. Firm Handshake is also going to conduct a thorough search of the house and grounds to try to find anywhere additional cancer cells may be hiding. Because of said thorough search and mostly because of the size of the tumor – 28cm is 11 inches for those of us who don’t use that mainstream metric system – the surgery could go on for a while. My internal organs are being squashed and shoved aside right now and there’s a very high chance that the tumor is adhering to several of them. Each of them has to be separately handled and detached from the tumor.
The tumor itself needs, if at all possible, to be removed in one piece. We can all use our imaginations to think about how Not Good it would be to have a tumor rupture and spill its contents all over the inside my pelvic cavity. The care needed to ensure its removal without rupture is something else that could take some time. Apparently this is also going to need a bigger incision than the last three. This I find shocking, because the previous three incisions already seemed huge to me. Bigger than 7 inches? Seriously?
This brings us to the part that makes me uncomfortable. Dr. Firm Handshake believes the post-surgical pain for a procedure so involved will be considerable. So much so that he plans to completely bypass messing around with a morphine pump for post-surgical pain management and instead I’m going to have an epidural put in before the surgery. That will remain in place for… I don’t know how long, but long enough that after the surgery they can just use the epidural to numb me for a while.
I must confess to you, Gentle Reader, that scares the crap out of me.
Scott and Dr. Firm Handshake were both kind of stunned when I said the epidural scares me more than the surgery, but it does. I know women have them every day but they’ve always terrified me. I’m trying not to even think about the fact that he thinks the pain will be so bad that I’ll need one. That makes me worry about what will happen when the epidural is removed. I suppose I’ll worry about that when the time comes, and that’s why they make Percocet, after all.
So now we should be all up to date. March 30. Shit’s gonna get real, son.