We just returned last night from our trip back to Mayo clinic. It was a good trip but fast. This was a three month follow up visit with the surgeons and, of course, a chance for us to visit with our oncologist there and discuss my chemotherapy.
The visits with the surgeons were great. They are thrilled with how I am healing. They were very happy with the way that my leg bone has fused to the jaw bone. They were thrilled to see the nerves of my face beginning to turn on again and they were relieved to see the wound on my leg beginning to come under control. We talked to the main surgeon, Dr. Moore, about what he thought about the question as to whether or not we should continue chemotherapy. He didn't really give us an answer but he did tell us that he was certain that he had clear margins all around the tumor. He was certain that no tumor stayed behind in the surgery site. I mentioned to him that my hearing seemed somewhat altered since starting chemotherapy so he ordered a hearing test. It just so happened that I had another hearing test done just prior to the beginning of chemotherapy so that was useful for comparison. The new test showed significant hearing loss in the upper ranges in both ears. I had some loss from before associated with my profession and the sound of dental drills but the loss in the last 12 weeks is much greater. The doctors informed me that this is one of the possible side effects of the chemotherapy I was given. One doctor said that once gone, it would always be gone, the other doctor thought I might get some of it back. The other day I noticed that I can't hear birds sing anymore. That's kind of sad.
Our visit with the oncologist over chemotherapy was a bit less definite. We had faxed all of my medical records to him last week. He must have spent some serious time since we sent nearly 200 pages of records and he seemed familiar with all of them. He shared the concerns of our oncologist in Provo. I think it was obvious to both of them that if I were to continue on the regimen that I am on now it would probably take my life before I finished six rounds. He said, "My heart tells me that you should stop chemo now but my brain thinks perhaps we could design a different regimen based on other drugs that you might tolerate better." Apparently there is a regimen used in Europe that might have less side effects than the one I am on. We talked about that for a bit. He freely admitted that nobody knows for sure what to expect from my cancer since it has never really been studied. They really don't know the chances of it coming back and they don't even know if chemo is effective against it or not. They also don't know if there is even cancer in my body anymore. What they do know is that if I start chemo again it will set back the healing of the wound in my leg and possibly allow another infection to develop. This was a main concern for him. He felt that another infection in my leg could be fatal. When it was all said and done he said that the decision would have to be ours. He told us he would consult with the other sarcoma specialists and with our doctor in Provo.
Today we went to visit with our local oncologist again, Brian Tudor. We have come to have a lot of respect for him both as a doctor and just as a caring man. We went through all the scenarios with him again. He mentioned that my response to three rounds of chemo was more that what he expected out of six rounds on most people. In his words "If three rounds beat you up that badly, I kind of think, if there is cancer in your body, it would have been equally brutal on your cancer." Needless to say, he is inclined to have us quit chemotherapy at this point as well but he encouraged us to pray about it and find our answers with help from above.
So, here we sit, with some big decisions to make. We don't want the cancer to come back but we don't want the risks of additional chemotherapy either. We plan on going to the temple tomorrow and consult with the Lord. He has been so good to us up to this point. We hope and pray we can receive answers again this time.
Today a dear friend came by. She said that just prior to my surgery she went to open a fortune cookie. She was astounded to read the following:
It seems that God is writing messages in park benches, in fortune cookies and elsewhere as well. We continue to feel His love and concern for us.