Friday, June 29, 2012

meeting the new doc ......
on wednesday, we met with the breast surgeon at his offices in alpharetta––because we were willing to go all the way there, we were able to take someone’s  cancelled appointment and get in immediately.

dr. garcha is a fine, young and very capable surgeon. his demeanor was pleasant and he was quite affable and attentive. we covered all the angles and he patiently answered our numerous questions without hesitation. the information was forthcoming and gave us a great deal of confidence in his expertise––after all, dr. d. highly recommended him. [ we were pleasantly surprised to meet one of his associates who, as it turns out, is a graduate of WHS––class of 1998––that's a little after our class ... ]

dr. g. ordered an MRI so he could get a clear picture of where the lump is located and just how much material he will have to remove to insure nothing is left behind. we were able to book the appointment while in his office ... this friday at 8:45am.

this morning we rose at 5:45––another early morning in our journey––and made our way to northside hospital arriving just after 7am ... we had a little time so we found the cafeteria and had a nice breakfast together ... they even served oatmeal, granola and had a plethora of fruit and toppings to enjoy!

the MRI took a couple of hours and once completed, it was suggested by admissions that marilyn go ahead and do the prep for her upcoming operation. this would save us another trip to the hospital. so, we went to the prep area and she had blood work done along with an EKG. we were finished around noon so it was another five hour stay. so now it’s on with the surgery, july 6!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

surgery scheduled......
Today we saw the breast surgeon. The doctors get younger and younger–––but we really liked him because he answered all our questions and gave us all the time we needed.

An MRI is ordered for Friday this week and the results next Tuesday will confirm that a lumpectomy is the best course. This out-patient surgery will be scheduled for Friday, July 6th. Recovery should take only a couple of days. Radiation for 5 days a week for the duration of 6 weeks should follow soon after surgery. I’m not sure yet about hormonal therapies being used in treatment as well. All in all, I’m getting off extremely easy. Surely not what I was facing if the bone tumors had been cancer. The breast cancer is no longer this threatening insurmountable thing and it all feels like I have just a summer cold to cure by comparison.

My doc is presenting my hemangioma tumors to a thoracic conference and may be seeking outside opinions to determine how to proceed with the rib tumors.

This has been quite a month and we are emotionally exhausted. One minute I’m drawing up my will and getting ready for the worst and now I’m to go back to regular life schedules and problems. In between life moving on I’m still scheduling tests and procedures, taking care of numerous insurance issues and paperwork and trying to work as much as possible. All is good but really hard on the body and mind. Kenn and I have drawn closer through this so that is a wonderful blessing. Humor has been a big part of getting through this and keeping our spirits up but God’s word and promises have been the strength that has sustained us. The many and constant prayers lifted up for me and for Kenn have been felt all along and I thank you all for them. Please continue to lift us up while we seek his direction, his provision and his continued peace.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

rewards of waiting .......
The second best thing that happened today was that I didn’t have to drink the barium drink, citrus flavor. This morning Dr. D called me just prior to the time for me to drink it as he had canceled today’s scheduled PETscan.

The best thing that happened today ....... Dr. D told me that my bone tumors are not cancerous!!!!!!! confirmed by the second biopsy. They are Cavernous Hemangiomas, vascular tumors that are benign and very rare. You can’t imagine what spectacular news this is! The fact that my breast cancer has not metastasized to my bone is nothing short of a gift of life. As it stands, the breast cancer and the bone tumors are totally separate conditions and the fact that I have these tumors in the bone precipitated my discovering the breast cancer. Praise to my heavenly Father!

I already have an appointment with the breast surgeon tomorrow at 2:00 to determine what kind of surgery is recommended and maybe I’ll have an idea of when that will take place. After the surgery it will be back to the oncologist, Dr, D. for treatment prescribed, most likely radiation and hormone therapies.

We didn’t discuss what we’ll do about the bone tumors. They are on the back burner for now while we take care of the breast cancer. What I’ve read is that surgery to remove the tumors is usually prescribed but what do I know at this point?

Kenn and I tried to absorb the news and went to clean two houses. It is so strange to carry on with regular work and allow all this to sink in––what a roller coaster ride it has been! We are on the top flying high today but at the same time I am doing what I am usually doing, cleaning toilets and dusting other people’s houses.

And now .... I think I will try and get some rest ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

more waiting and tests.....

My emotional state has been one of exuberance since the news that my "bad news" was incorrect. I'm happy that my first bone biopsy did not show cancer, but curiously I'm not as joyous. I miss that zone of being so close to God's care and love that joy just flows through my whole being. I wonder if we have to be at the depths of our fear, anguish, sorrow, or need to experience the closeness that comes with drawing near to Him every moment of the day. We don't normally allow ourselves to be so possessed by seeking his face ever before us. I've missed that closeness these last two days. Are we destined to be spiritual adulterers most of our lives? If so then I welcome the darkest days. Only then do I see the brightest light from his face. That is a most unfortunate state of being human. 


Tomorrow we may hear the results of the second bone biopsy, praying that it too will not be cancer. I have a PET scan scheduled. In the morning I'm to drink a horrible looking thick mixture of barium, citrus flavored. Then later at 2:00 I'll lie in a scanning chamber for 2 to 3 hours. I'm to wear something loose, warm and containing no metal–––sounds like my flannel drawstring pants will be just right. I think this test is to examine the rest of my body and organs to see if there is any cancer ( the breast cancer ) anywhere else. After ruling out bone or other cancer sites then we will be able to determine the best treatment for the breast cancer.


All these many tests/procedures on this one person's body has already amounted to $24,000. in one month. And that is before any surgery or treatments! It just blows my mind! God is providing the ability to move forward with all these tests but continued prayer is needed. I've heard that my new insurance policy's company ( start date March 1, 2012 ) is doing their thing and investigating my case for pre-existing conditions. I'm sure that is quite normal practice but is still a bit unsettling. Now who would be so stupid to have a policy for two years like I did, know that I had a medical condition, and then drop companies and switch, endangering their coverage? Not me!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

very promising...... 

Wow, do I have an update today!!!  In my last post I mentioned that we had learned the results of my bone tumor biopsy from the oncologist's nurse. We were in his office Thursday to drop off insurance paperwork for the doctor to sign and I was determined to stay until someone would tell me the results of my then 8 day old test. I should have had results in 3 to 5 days and I was tired of waiting!! After sitting in the waiting area for half an hour the nurse took us to a private room and sat us down. She said that my biopsy showed that I had bone disease and that it was cancer. I asked her if the pathology was the same as the breast cancer. She answered yes. The nurse said that the office was giving us an earlier doc appointment for Friday 8:30 am. and the doc would go over it with us... OK.

It was really strange for both of us after this news. We were unaffected, almost no emotion and really calm. I stayed happy all day and was just prepared for what was coming next. Chemo, surgery, radiation, the whole nine yards. I'm in your hand Lord––still hanging onto Proverbs 3:5-6. ( this scripture has been my rock )

This morning we went to my appointment with the anticipation of learning what a possible treatment plan would be. The doc led us into his office ( very punctual ) and laid out his findings thus far. He mentioned that "we have the breast cancer over here and the inconclusive or non cancer results over here for the bone biopsy". WHAT WHAT!!!! Our mouths dropped open. We quickly told him that was NOT what we had heard yesterday from his nurse. "She had said bla, bla, bla". and his expression said WHAT WHAT! I'll go talk to her right now––maybe she knows something I don't!!! We looked at each other as he left the room with hope.... When he came back he said "Forget everything she told you, she misunderstood me completely. We were amazed and delighted.

Now the doc toned us down a little saying that the test had not shown any cancer but further tests were needed. So later today I had another bone biopsy on the front tumor. Another full day at Northside Hospital––goody––not! Tuesday I'll have a PET scan with another full day at the hospital. But the doc says that we have to totally rule out cancer of the bone tumor and find out what is going on with those. But this is looking good. We are going from what we thought yesterday–––breast cancer stage IV ( the beast )––to breast cancer stage one maybe with as little as a lumpectomy and rads with the bone tumor maybe being totally unrelated. He could not emphasize enough how much difference this would be ( very positive ) and he admitted that it is the outcome he may be favoring with all the other findings of my testing- blood work came out perfect––full body bone scan was clean other than the two known tumors.

God has given us such encouragement today and hope that the road ahead is not as difficult as all were expecting. We could be surprised again and learn of unexpected outcomes but we will wait on the Lord to reveal all in his timing. Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers. We feel them all coming our way and making all the difference.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

first post......
So, this is my first post, post-discovery of the the Big "C". I would say that it will be a long difficult journey ahead but I know that good will come of it. I expect it will define my life as much as my art has, maybe even more. For a while at least it will become my full time job. You notice that I titled this a journey of survival- I will give it everything I've got.

I'll try to post as often as possible to keep you updated on how we are doing.
Because this  story began a little over a month ago and I haven't kept everyone in the loop until now, I've asked Kenn to post here a collection of emails and facebook posts he has so thoughtfully been sending to friends and loved ones. Sharing the events in real time this way will give a better perspective of our developing feelings over the past month.

may 18 [ friday ]
took an xray at our chiropractor and dear friend's today ... dr. joel seemed very upset as he read the film ... he seemed unable to look marilyn in the eye, as he cares for her.....

may 23
hope u r well ...
marilyn has discovered a large boney mass on one of her ribs ... her chiropractor xray'd it ... with concern, he sent it to his son-in-law who is an orthopedist ... then he had an associate walk it over to dekalb medical for an assessment by their radiology ... suggestions were made that she have a CTscan ... she will on friday ... we think that there will be surgery regardless of the status of the mass ... may mean not working for four to six weeks ... not sure how we will make income ... but God ... please pray with us as we excitedly wait for the path that we are confident we are to travel ... and any new things that will come from "it" ... marilyn is holding onto Proverbs 3:5-6, " trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all ways acknowledge  him and he will direct your paths"
love to u 2 ... kennman

may 25 [ friday ]

had the CTscan this morning ... no results as of yet ...

may 28
[ monday ]
marilyn:  the CT scan was friday am and i didn't expect to know anything until tomorrow at the earliest. but is does seem like a long time when you are the one waiting. i'm at peace and preparing for anything but the waiting is not fun. thank you for your prayers and interest. you will know as soon as we do.

may 29
[ tuesday ]
got a report today from the CTscan ... too much to share but it generally concludes there is enough showing to suggest further tests are encouraged ... biopsy, MRI and ? ... made an appointment with an oncologist for monday at 1:30 ... he will read the scan and possibly do some blood work to see what is up ... so ... looks like it is still a "wait-and-see" situation ... we are exercising faith and know that there is a path laid out for us and we are looking to the Lord for everything as we move forward ... does that about cover it?

june 1

marilyn:  nothing new ... this is marilyn this time. I've been preparing for anything next week. got the will done along with power of attorney and living will. needed to do this a long time ago and don't want to have to deal with it if surgery is scheduled quickly. getting the home squared away, passwords listed for KENN for bills and such, calling clients and informing them of likely schedule changes, etc.  when i read online stuff i get sick at the stomach––too much info of what it could be. but my mind and heart are at peace for God's will and plans for Kenn and me. humor is
still plentiful here in this house, not dreary, thanks for your prayers

june 1
it took a week to schedule the CT scan. had it last Friday. Results were on Tuesday because monday was a holiday. seeing an oncologist for further evaluation highly recommended. so called right away on tueday, earliest appt for this monday at 2. I'm thinking more tests will be ordered by him and things will move very quickly from there if cancer is suspected. This all started with an xray from my chiropractor and I'm pretty sure he thinks it is not going to be good..... very concerned.

the big surprise for me about the CT results was that i have not one but two bone tumors. one is on the front right rib behind my breast and is 7x 6 cm. the one i didn't know about is on a right back rib protruding into the chest cavity so i didn't feel it's presence. it is larger at 8 cm by 6 cm. no pain just noticed the one on the front growing noticeably in last two months. these lesions are growing into the bone and disrupting the cortex so i'm pretty sure that they will both be removed surgically either way, cancer or not. having two removed will be harder to recover from than one, bummer. cancer would be a much bigger bummer––like on steroids!

june 4 [ monday ]
first meeting with new doctor and oncologist, dr. daniel dubovsky. he seemed alarmed after viewing the scan ... said he would have his number one guy review it [ he talked with him via phone in our presence ] ... told us he was leaving the country on friday but that he would have his team on it ... "hope to get all the tests buttoned up before i leave ..."

june 6

tomorrow, the first two tests are scheduled, a mammogram and a full-body bone scan ... from this will come a move toward a diagnosis ... next wednesday will be a needle biopsy .... this should tell all ... maybe then we will have an actual diagnosis. thanks for all the support ... we will keep you posted.

june 7
got to northside hospital at 7:55 [ parking lot stamp ] and marilyn had a couple of tests scheduled ... we left a little after 3pm [ that is, according to the parking lot stamp ] ... eight hours was exhausting ... she had a mammogram and a full body bone scan ... talked to a female doctor ... scheduled two biopsies for next week, tuesday and wednesday ... one breast lump biopsy on tuesday and bone biopsies on wednesday ... looks like our work is going to get interrupted for sure ... marilyn has no pain and is generally happier than usual ...

june 13

just got the first word on one of two major tests done yesterday and today ...the breast biopsy looks like it's the Big C  this was a big surprise because we thought the breast lump would be nothing ... still don't know the results of the bone biopsy done today ... we are hopeful that the boney masses are not cancer as well ... this is the best word that we are holding on to: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

june 14
marilyn wants to let you know that she is in god's hands and at peace with the journey he has her on ... and he will give her strength to endure all things ... and, most of all she prays that He will be glorified either in her healing or in her illness ... “in christ's humanity, he prayed that the cup might be passed from him, that is, that he might not have to endure the ordeal, but he also prayed that the father's greater purpose be done ... ” marilyn is in a place where she has relinquished all control over what happens to her physical body ... glory to be the outcome, regardless ... [ she is standing next to me dictating ]

june 18
no word yet ... still holding waiting for the news ... she's a trooper ... another good day in her spirit ... strong and steady ... able to make important decisions and phone calls, etc ... still hanging in ... she's napping now

june 20

today was the big day we have been waiting patiently for ... the bone tumors are cancer too and the same kind as the breast cancer... not a surprise, so our emotions have surprisingly not changed...tomorrow will be our second visit with the oncologist and we hope to hear what the plan of treatment will be... love to all and thanks for all your prayers... marilyn