Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And so it begins...

Some titles we considered for this blog were:
Giving Cancer the Finger
C is for Cookie, I don't care what they say
172 + C


So here is the back story.

We noticed a weird bump on Eric's left middle finger many months ago. It took some prodding but he finally went to the doctor and was told it was just a ganglion cyst and that it should go away on it's own. Over the past 6 months or so we noticed that it was growing in size and eventually began to have minor discomfort which is not consistent with a cyst. After lots of harassment he finally listened to his wife and went to a hand specialist, that was on Tuesday Sept 7th. He was told that it was not a cyst but actually a tumor and that he should have it removed. So on Friday Sept 10th he went in to have "a professional stab him" as he likes to say. The tumor was sent in for testing, which I believe is pretty much always the case when some kind of growth is removed from your body. We weren't worried at all. The doctor was going to give him the biopsy results when he returned for his stitches to be removed on Tues Sept 21st. To our complete surprise she actually called on Thurs Sept 16th and said that the initial tests had revealed that the tumor was malignant and that he has a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. (He told me this on instant messenger...Men don't do that to your wife if you find out you have cancer!) And then he sent me this link that tells a bit about it:
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/synovial

At this point, I was freaking out and Eric was totally chill. I'm sure that is totally a surprise to all who know us...NOT. He said that the full test results had not come back from the Mayo clinic yet but that they should be in by the time he was to get his stitches out and that they were going to refer him to MD Anderson. So while we were alarmed we didn't have too much to go on and at least in my mind the results were not 100% official. So Tues the 21st rolls around and he goes in to get his stitches out and find out more. This time he called with the news, he very calmly said "I figure going down to 9 digits ain't too bad". My mind raced trying to figure out what digits he was referring to and then I realized he was referring to having a finger cut off!!! So that is really when my imagination turned on and the fear, worry, and such kicked him. Eric remained totally chill. The hand doctor didn't have the full results back still but after researching it some more herself she thought there was a fairly good chance he would at least need to have his finger removed. I told him that I didn't want to hear anymore of what the hand specialist had to say I was ready to hear treatment options from a cancer doctor, I mean at this point we didn't even have the official results back from the Mayo clinic. On Wed, Sept 22nd, MD Anderson called and said that he would need to make plans to come to Houston for 5 business days for testing and that they would call back within 48 hours to tell us exactly when that would be. So it got a lot more real at that point. Now we needed to rearrange our lives to leave town for a week, so that involved telling people what was going on. Eric also revealed that when they tested the edges of the growth for cancer cells that they discovered there were still abnormal cells on the edges, not cool!! So at this point we started to tell family and friends what was going on. That was hard, repeating the details that I did have and trying to not let my imagination take me to the wrong place for all the details I don't have was difficult every time. Thursday I started to make arrangements at work so that I could be with Eric and we just waited for MD Anderson to call back. Thankfully they called early Friday morning to tell us to be there on Wed Sept 29th at 12:15 p.m.

Thankfully Eric has remained courageous and calm with every little step. I did not start on that path but have now found my feet firmly planted there. I'm confident that is an answer to the many prayers that have been lifted up for us. While processing through what has happened thus far we are so thankful that God is in control and that He has made that obvious to us in so many ways. We know that God has carefully placed us exactly where we are and by whom we are surrounded.

My loving Aunt Loretta who is very familiar with MD Anderson went with us to our appointment today. She was such a blessing to have with us for all the waiting and to help us know where to go and what questions to ask.

We have brave friends that are battling cancer, The Mommaerts, that are such a source of encouragement and support. It's amazing to me that God has provided us friends with whom we are close relationally and geographically that are in the same life stage that also share a common struggle. Roger and Holly are brave, loving, open and honest in the face of Roger battling brain cancer for the second time.

We also have wonderful family that live near the medical center so we have a place to stay for multi-day trips such as this one. We have just arrived at my cousins apartment for the evening as I finish typing this up. Thanks Chris and Courtney! And thanks to Stephanie for the nights that are to come and also to Rob. God has provided in this area abundantly :-)

Okay on to the news we got today.

We had expected lots of testing and insight to the reality of the situation we are facing but instead we had LOTS of waiting. Dr. Lewis has ordered a few tests to be done tomorrow and in days to come. Since the cancer that he has is considered aggressive the primary concern is making sure that it has not spread to his lungs. So he will be having a chest CT scan and chest x-ray tomorrow and then an ultrasound of his upper torso that is not scheduled quite yet. Our biggest prayer is that all those are clear. If those are clear then we have a huge praise that this was caught early. Unfortunately regardless of what the tests to come reveal he will need to have his finger removed. This is mainly a safety precaution to prevent the cancer from spreading anywhere else in his body because after examining the growth that was removed it was discovered that the margins were not clear. That basically just means they didn't get all the cancer. If the tests don't come back clear then he would have to first undergo chemo and then have the surgery. But for now we are just focusing on what we know the future holds and praying there is nothing more to discover. So please pray for a clear chest CT, chest x-ray,and bicep ultrasound.

The doctor says that the hand surgery should have a pretty quick recovery time and within about 3 weeks he could even be back to playing the drums again.

So that should bring you up to speed. We are so thankful to be so covered in prayer. Thank you all so much for your text messages of support and encouragement today, it was so great to have them come in throughout the day as little reminders that we are covered in prayer and love.

And now to rest our weary heads....

11 comments:

  1. Big hugs Eric and Brea. I am so sorry to hear about this ordeal. If there is anything Joe or I can do to help, please let us know.

    On a more positive note, my father had a very aggressive form of cancer in his hand when he was 13. They removed his hand and he has had a very long and happy life since then. Despite having to put up with me ;)

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  2. We are praying for you two! Thanks for creating this blog so we can all stay updated without you having to repeat everything over and over again. It's makes it so much easier for you and for us. You know, so we don't have to bug you as much. Although we do enjoy it. :)

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  3. P.S. I totally like "Giving Cancer the Finger" better. :)

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  4. My friends, my neighbors, my heart is with you and so are my prayers and you guys know I don't pray but I think this is an exception. Eric you better get well soon. I'm not going to be up all night worrying about my brother. My fingers are crossed and hoping for the best on that CT. Love you guys...... Joe

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  5. You guys are in the right place (I was going to say hands but...) Be strong and let Him lead the way.

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  6. Eric, If you need help removing the finger Roger & I can help. We can use the Black Rain method or the Sawzall method. either way we will give you a lollipop and all of the ice cream you can eat($10 maximum) or if it is by Oct 5th its all you can eat Sno-Cones at National Night Out. I know a guy. But seriously Mel and I wish you the best. Since we are still at the hospital do you want is to pick up some stem cells so we can grow you another finger?

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  7. Adam and I are praying down here :) As I like to say, we have the night shift ;)

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  8. Psalm 29:11 says that "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.". Eric and Brea, you are His people, and I trust that as we ask for his strength and peace for you during this very exhausting and insecure time, that He will give you the strength and peace that only He can give. We love you and are praying for you both...

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  9. Thanks you guys! :) It's awesome to have such a great family of friends sending prayers and encouragement. I'll try and stopping being such a jerk... going of and getting cancer and junk... :D

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  10. e - I will be happy to give anyone the finger for you should you have your "good hand" in your pocket or already in use. Rest assured I'm giving cancer the finger right now! Seriously, what a great honor it is to walk with you through this part of your life. I pray for you daily.

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  11. Hi Brea - I just found out about this difficult situation you and your husband are facing. Although I've never had the pleasure of meeting Eric, my heart and prayers go out to him for a full and speedy recovery. I live in Austin and will be happy to lend a hand anytime you need one, so don't hesitate to ask.

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