Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do you want some "Mayo" on that?

Well, today we scheduled a consult and full workup at the Mayo clinic in Rochester Minnesota. We fly out on next Wednesday evening and they need us to stay for five working days so we will have to be gone until the following Wednesday. They will perform all the biopsies, labs and necessary radiographs and most importantly gather all the specialists together to discuss how best to manage our case. It is out of network for our insurance but we believe that we have some strong arguments for why the insurance should allow us to leave the IHC network. It will be nice to finally have a biopsy to confirm the radiographic diagnosis. Huntsman wanted to perform the biopsy. We were going to do it here but after talking to the doctors at Mayo they had a few concerns so we decided that we would rather just wait and do it once and not risk the biopsy being taken in the wrong place and having to have it redone. Dr. Jeff Youngquist has been so nice to come in and cover my patients when I have to be gone. What an answer to prayers he has been.

I should mention, last Tuesday my Dad came down to the office and was just kind of hanging around watching while I was working. He kept asking me what I was doing and why. When I finally had a break where we could talk he said, "Eric, I just wanted you to know that I would be willing to come down and work for free for you while you are gone. I'm not too fast anymore but I'm sure I could do something." It was a very kind gesture. He is 82 years old and struggles with his eyesight but his heart is in the right place. He also told me that he had offered to God to "Take me in Eric's stead" I love my dad. He's not perfect, none of us are, but I love him.

It was nice to get back to work today. I love being a dentist. What a blessing it is to have a job that you love to go to each day. I have a lot to be grateful for. I only cried twice today. I am grateful for that as well.

Last night I received a letter from Bryan Bird, one of the YM that I worked with years ago here in the ward. It had been a hard day and his kind words truly lifted my spirits. Those young men were like sons to me. I loved being a part of their lives. Bryan is now the YM president in his own ward and I am sure blessing the lives of many youth. Isn't it a wonderful how God allows us to to love and serve one another and how much better our lives are because of it all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big Mac Facial

First of all we are so grateful for the love and support of family and friends. I came home from work on Tuesday to some very heart warming chalk art on our driveway. It made both JoLynne and I cry (that happens pretty easily these days) Every day my inbox is full of sweet messages of love and support from people who I love. That means more to me than I can express.

We went to Huntsman cancer center today and met with a ENT oncologist. Two doctors re-read the CT scan of my head and both thought that the tumor was likely a chondrosarcoma.

They told us that sarcomas are 1% of adult cancers and that chondrosarcomas are 5% of the total sacromas. Of the chondrosaromas, almost none occur in the head. More in black people and hispanics. (No, I don't dye my hair) Needless to say this is an unusual cancer. Frankly, I would be glad to be a little more common. The ENT oncologist seemed very confident. I kept wondering if he was looking at me as his next professional publication. I was un-impressed with their approach to reconstruction. The reconstructive team doesn't even come to the table during the initial treatment discussions. When I asked about reconstruction he said that they would remove the upper part of the right mandible and replace the bone with a muscle. They called it a soft tissue flap. When I talked to my oral surgeon friends they strongly discouraged me from this approach. They felt like it would lead to facial shrinkage and loss of most function and as Dr. McBee said, "it will look like a Big Mac stapled to your face" I think we will keep looking.

I know that God is looking out for me and that when we find the right surgical team we will feel a sweet confirmation telling us what to do. We went to the temple last night with Shanelle, Mike and Jarom and I had a very sweet experience. I believe that I will make it through this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Good News

Today, we got some really great news. Yesterday Eric went in to have a CT scan of his chest to check for any sign of metastasis of his tumor (in layman's terms- if the cancer had spread). We are happy to report that the scan showed no signs of cancer in his liver or lungs. We are optimistic at this point that the cancer is localized in his jaw. We are very happy to have received this news.

Some Good News

Today, we got some really great news. Yesterday Eric went in to have a CT scan of his chest to check for any sign of metastasis of his tumor (in layman's if the cancer had spread). We are happy to report that the

Initial Diagnosis

As most of you know, Eric was diagnosed with a sarcoma in his temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on Friday. The tumor is about the size of a raquetball (4-5 cm in diameter) and is growing inward which will make the removal very difficult. We do not know what type of sarcoma the tumor is yet. The initial diagnosis is either an osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, or a high-grade chondrosarcoma. There is also a possibility that the tumor is an agressive benign tumor.

Sarcomas are a very rare form of cancer- especially in this location. They are generally found found in a limb or in the pelvis. Because of the type and location of the cancer, there are probably no doctors in Utah qualified to treat this cancer. We are looking into treatment at a sarcoma center somewhere else in the US. Right now we are trying to the right location and team of doctors to treat this difficult type of cancer. We appreciate your prayers in helping us find the right place to have this treated.

As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult time for our family. There is still a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety over this diagnosis. But we know that Heavenly Father loves and cares about us. We know that he is aware of our situation and will bless us. We have great faith that Eric will survive this cancer.

We appreciate all of the love and support we have received from all of you. Please keep Eric in your prayers.

We will be updating this blog regularly to keep all of you informed as we this go through this process.

-The Vogels