Yesterday Louise and I met with the oncologist for a follow-up appointment to discuss the results of the recent CT scan and the endoscopy and to firm up the direction we will go from this point in time. We met with Diane who is the physician's assistant and who had discussed everything with Dr. Donovan who is the actual oncologist. Dr. Lewkowitz, our GI doctor who performed the endoscopy had called Dr. Donovan the day before and had discussed everything with him in detail.
The first news that Diane gave us was that the cytology report from the endoscopy showed that there were malignant cells remaining in the tissue of the esophagus where the tumor once had been. That test result had surprised Dr. Lewkowitz because the tumor was gone and this area at the base of the esophagus had appeared so clear of any remnant of the cancer. Diane emphasized that the upper 2/3 of the esophagus was unaffected.
Diane also went into further detail with us about how "normal" the rest of her body appeared from the CT scan. She said there was no enlarged lymph nodes and no other evidence of any other even small tumors in her body. She said there was also no need for a pet scan at this time because there is no evidence of cancer anywhere other than the cancer cells found in her lower esophagus.
Both doctors agreed that surgery was necessary at this time to remove the lower third of her esophagus to eliminate the current cancer and to remove the tissue that could lead to more cancer later. Surgery would also connect the good 2/3 of her esophagus with her stomach, allowing her to eat normally again.
When we first met with Dr. Donovan before the chemo and radiation began, he told us that there would be three possible scenarios that might happen. This was the second scenario where all evidence showed that the cancer had not spread anywhere in her body and that the tumor would be essentially gone but that remnant cancer cells might still be found in the esophagus and surgery would be required. For some reason, Louise and I have always felt that surgery would be necessary. I am pretty sure we would have opted for surgery even if no other cancer had been found. It made a lot of sense to repair the esophagus permanently so she could eat solids again and removing the once-infected portion of the esophagus could prevent that cancer from ever coming back. Though the results of the cytology test were discouraging to us, we know that there is a solution. That solution is the direction we were headed for anyway--surgery.
A surgeon has been recommended by our GI doctor and we probably will meet with him in the next week or so. We are exploring other possible surgeons also. We anticipate the surgery will take place in early January. It is major surgery and will require a fairly long hospital recovery time as well as a long home recovery period. But Louise is very hopeful that she can heal quickly. She seems to be getting stronger every day. She is going in for an ultra sound for an unrelated matter today, but otherwise she is doing well. Many of you were inspired by her like me, when she bore such a strong testimony in Testimony Meeting on Sunday. She gave such a strong witness of how merciful Heavenly Father is and how He was the reason for this miracle to take place for the ongoing cure to her cancer. May we all draw from her great hope and faith and testimony of a great and merciful Father in Heaven.