Saturday, October 30, 2010

MRI Friday Night

We don't have any interpretations of the MRI findings from last night.

Didn't think we would, since today is Saturday. But I think that on Monday, we might get a call with results.

Short summary: We drove to Winston Salem last night, strangely late for a medical procedure: The MRI was at 8:15 pm. Weird, eh? Didn't get home till midnight. That's LATE for us!

Bill went in alone--sometimes I go with him, but Emma was here and helped us drive over and back, so she and I sat in the waiting room.

(I got a little bit scolded by some of the people in the waiting room, because I was showing Emma my new $9 cell phone from WalMart, that has 300 minutes, and works for 2 months. You get a new phone number with every phone. So this lady across the aisle starts remarking about how cheap that is, and I said, yes, I found out about these phones because of reading that the terrorists use them, so their calls can't be traced, and therefore I call it my Jihad Phone. I thought that was funny, but the people in the waiting room all felt that they should suddenly pour forth unsolicited commentary, to the effect that I shouldn't be using words like that in public. I said to one lady, "Well, you can look at me and tell I'm not a terrorist, right?" Honestly? She looked at me like maybe she wasn't sure she COULD tell that. So when I got home, my other daughter, Sarah, heard the story and said, "Mom! You should never say those words in public! You need to go OUT more so you will know what the RULES are!" hahahaha Well, whatdya know. My vocabulary has now shrunk by two words.)

Anyway, the MRI took about an hour, and all the people coming out before Bill were talking about how much they threw up, and couldn't stop throwing up from the dye, and how their heads hurt. That rendered me scared to death about what Bill was experiencing.

But finally, about 9:30, he came out, bandaids and tape and cotton and plastic ID bracelets stuck all over him, and said he hadn't thrown up, but he looked like he just stepped out of a rodeo on the wrong side of a bad pony. He look just whipped. He did get nauseated, and he said it was very difficult to hold his breath for 20 seconds at a time, with very little breathing time in between. Things like that.

The machine completely encloses you, so that there is a space of mere inches between your face or body and the machine. It's very cold in the machine, but they put a heated blanket on you. Bill liked that. And part of the magnets' working requires extremely loud metallic banging. Then there are sirens and other strange very loud noises. Bill said they gave him earplugs, but that was pointless, given the loudness of the noises.

We don't know how much of his body was scanned, but they said they were focusing on his liver, obviously.

So now that two of the children are here, our lives will be hyper for a couple of days, so I won't post on Sunday.

But I will post anything we hear, good or bad, within minutes of getting the call--hoping it's on Monday.

And I hope they do call, and don't make us wait till next Friday when we meet with Dr. Perry Shen.

Thank you for thinking of us, and caring, and continuing to read this story!

We love you.

PS: Jihad phone. See? I'm incorrigible.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally, an appointment with the famous Dr. Perry Shen

Just minutes ago, Wake Forest Hospital called with the appointment we were waiting for.

So, on Nov. 5th, a week from this coming Friday (and this coming Friday evening is the MRI), we meet Dr. Perry Shen at 3:15 pm at the 14-floor Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake. I hope that Dr. Shen will give us the MRI results at that time. I actually hope we get them before then, but oh well.

If you want to see a picture of Dr. Shen and read a very brief bio, click here. If you go to that link, click on the Research tab. Stunning list of published research by him. Probably why they call him "world-renowned".

Five days after meeting Dr. Shen, Bill will have his biopsy at the same hospital (Wednesday, Nov. 10th, early morning). Maybe that will be done by Dr. Shen. We don't know. Biopsy results take a week.

Bill, still the funniest man I have ever personally known, said, with a straight face: "That's a terrible name for a cancer doctor. Perry Shen. Sounds like "perishin'". I nearly fell down laughing, but he never cracked a smile. You know how he is.

Bill still feels fine, has no symptoms (or won't admit to having any), but every so often a cloud passes over him, and I can tell because his expression becomes gloomy. He won't even admit that he feels gloomy until I ask him about five times, then he finally admits it, to get me to hush.

He just left for the University--teaching Milton this afternoon.

Bravest man I ever knew.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Monday afternoon update by phone, just minutes ago.

The hospital called. They've scheduled Bill for a biopsy on Nov. 10th in the early morning. This is GOOD in that they must have decided that the spots are in a place where they can be biopsied, and presumably, then, also radio ablated or surgically removed. (Did you know your liver grows back 100% in 1 to 6 months, even if you take out half of it? How cool is that! Liver Love!)

We were panicked that the spots were in a location that couldn't be accessed and would then be considered "inoperable", the word you never want to hear--and all he would have left would be chemo.

BUT this new chemo--developed by our very own Dr Torti, and now a famous treatment, has CURED liver cancer! As in, it went away and NEVER CAME BACK! This was beyond our wildest hopes, but now we're hoping! HOPE RULES.

Bad part: The biopsy results take at least ten days.

AND, if she cant schedule an MRI and a meeting with Dr. Shen (sp?) the allegedly "world famous liver surgeon", then the whole thing gets moved back to December before we know anything.

*BANG BANG BANG* (Sound of Beth banging her head on keyboard) HOW can they let LIVER SPOTS that popped up in just 90 days--continue to develop their real estate holdings for 30 more days? It just makes no SENSE to me!

[INSERT UPDATE THAT CAME IN BY PHONE AS I WAS TYPING THIS: NOW HE HAS AN MRI SCHEDULED FOR THIS COMING FRIDAY AT 8:15 PM--AT NIGHT! So we will have THAT done. Tomorrow they call AGAIN and tell us when Dr. Shen will want to see us--after the MRI or after the biopsy--they weren't sure.)

I tried, in several creative ways, none of which seemed to strike the funny bone of the somber Assistant on the phone, to get her to HINT to me whether she thought these were possibly NOT cancer, but were merely little scars, little dings, little boo boos from chemo, little flea bites, little pieces of dog kibble that he might have accidentally swallowed--something OTHER than cancer. I tried SO hard.

I even said, "I KNOW you can't say it is or isn't cancer, but let's just do this: I'll say something and you say NOTHING if I'm wrong....Okay, so he has this super bad bladder cancer and suddenly spots pop up on his liver...looks like BIG RISK OF CANCER TO ME, but I'm probably wrong, so you can just say nothing."

She didn't apparently think that was amusing. Nor was she willing to play along.

She said, reeeeeeeally dryly: "All I can say is that the spots are small. They are small. That's the best I can say."

Me: "OOOOOOOOOkey dokey, well you can't blame me for givin' it a shot, I hope. It's kinda hard sleeping at night with a really sharp Paul Bunyan sized AXE hanging over our heads, but thanks for at least reminding me that they spots are small, whatever they may be."

"You're welcome. Goodbye, Mrs. Drennan."

Ohhhhhhhh boy.

So more tomorrow.

Love to all of you...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A little more information we got on Friday afternoon...

Hi all!

Well, we waited around the house all day Friday, staring at the phone, waiting for the Dr.'s assistant to call us about when the biopsy would occur.

But by 4:15 pm, no one had called.

I am not one for standing a lot of suspense, and I wasn't about to go through the whole weekend waiting for this info, so I courageously made Bill call them. (hahaha. That's the best kind of courage: make Bill do it.)

We did get through to the assistant, so, after two conversations with her, we got all the newest information.

Don't prepare to feel uplifted--it wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't really great.

Wellllll, she says, nowwwwwww there's a question that has arisen as to the possible unfortunate location of the lumps on the liver. The (check out this title) Interventionalist Radiologist is concerned that the lumps are in a place that is so inaccessible that not only might we NOT be able to do a biopsy, but we might also NOT be able to do a needle ablation (I was spelling it wrong: it's Ablation, not Oblation), AND we might not even be able to do surgery.



Luckily, we had this in TWO conversations, and I was able to google like a wild woman between the conversations and grasp more of the situation, and be ready with questions during phone call number two, a few minutes later.

Ultimately, here's the boildown:

If they can't do a biopsy, then how can they know what the lumps are with certainty? Answer: Bill is getting an MRI to determine with more certainty whether the lumps are cancer or cysts. Also there are blood & chemical tests for determining facts about the lumps.

How can there be an unreachable part of any human organ?

Answer: The liver is positioned between a bunch of essential and delicate organs, veins, tubes, drains, whatever. A patient should be awake for a biopsy or needle ablation because they have to hold their breath, because if they breathe while the needle is in, it can drag the needle across the liver, or pierce other organs, etc. So some locations on the liver just can't be reached with sharp objects.

And all needle procedures on the liver are done with a guiding visual machine--either a CT or ultrasound--to guide the exact placement of the needle. If the lumps are not visible on at least ONE of the visual aid machines, they can't put the needle in.

So if it turns out he can't have anything done--no biopsy, no ablation, no surgery--then what?

Then, she said, just chemo.

So when will we know more, I asked, after thanking her PROFUSELY for talking to us on a Friday afternoon and not making us wait through a whole weekend...

She will call us Monday or Tuesday, but she can't do anything until these doctors reach an opinion about the location and accessibility of the lumps.

So there you go.

As always, THANK YOU for caring, especially enough to read these long ramblings.
We love you so much.
Yippee ti-yi-yo...we're gonna get along, little way or another!
God is good.
Beth and Billyo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Um...How Do I Write This....Better Things Could Have Happened.....

Thank you for checking here. The fact that you care about this means everything to us.

We just got back from Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem. He had the big CT scan in the morning, and by 1:45, we were in Oncologist Dr. Torti's office.

I could personally tell right away that we were going to get bad news.

The Dr. and his assistant had stricken expressions on their faces, and Dr. Torti walked in, shook our hands, rolled a stool right up to Bill's knees, sat on the stool, put his hand on Bill's knee, and said, "There's no good way to say this, so I'm going to just say it. The radiologist just called me, and he is very worried about your liver. There are three lumps on your liver that weren't there 90 day ago.Yes, it could be liver cancer."

Wow. That's the kind of moment you hope you never have to live through in a whole lifetime.

Bill just sat there quietly. I got my pen out and started writing down a verbatim transcript of every word after that, because I went into shock, and couldn't think. I could only write words down. Kind of like I'm doing right now by writing this blog.

Here's the deal.

Next week (they're going to call and tell us when), Bill gets a liver biopsy to confirm whether it is or isn't cancer. Obviously, we think there's quite a chance of it.

Then, they "aggressively attack it." I loved that part, when he said that.

If it's positioned right, they put an electric needle in the tumors and burn them out. This is called oblation (I think). (You can imagine the googling I'm going to be doing.)

If they can't "oblate", then it just so happens (!) they have one of the world's best liver surgeons there--by chance!(?)--and he goes in and cuts the tumors out.

Then, Bill gets chemo for 4 to 6 months, DOUBLE the strength of last time, and with some new drugs that Dr. Torti was the inventor of. Ooops. Of which Dr. Torti was the inventor. Because the last chemo did nothing whatsoever to his cancer.

As for our emotional states, we are both in shock. Bill's doing a lot better than I am. I'm kind of wandering around picking things up and putting them down and wondering what I'm doing. Bill is watching Sports Center and coping, and even laughing sometimes.

When we find out the next bit of info, such as biopsy date or results of biopsy, I will post again.

If you talk to us, don't feel like you have to act weird. We are being really normal and trying to find humor here and there. We're not acting morose or freaky or anything like that. There's nothing you should be afraid to say or ask. So don't feel inhibited if you want to ask anything or say hi or whatever. We're still us. We're still laughing. We're still optimistic.

We are also realistic.

Bill says to write this: "We're still leaning on the promises."

You lovers of old hymns know exactly what that means.

Love and more love and GRATITUDE that you care for us.

Yer favorite cowpals

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cancer Joke Day

North Carolina guy walks into a Duke Oncologist & says: "Didja getcher MD at Duke?"

Duke Oncologist replies: "Yale."

North Carolina guy says: "DIDJA GETCHER MD AT DUKE?"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poor Rhinestone Rhinitis Cowboy

Our boy is soooooooo sick today!

Nothing weeweelogical, I'm glad to report, but a TERRIBLE cold.

[Place bets *here* for how fast he makes me delete the term "weeweelogical"...]

I gave him coffee, newspaper, and breakfast in bed, and brought him Dayquil and stuff, and he was grateful, but still so sick. Poor guy!


We get the results on Friday by phone.

So I will post here the minute those results are in.

Fairly irrelevant sidenote: I write a Twitter blog at (here) posting AS MY DOG MideyMulligan, the Boston Terrier, and Midey posts in dog language, with lots of spelling errors and wrong words, etc. So this morning Midey was posting a bunch of jokes about Cesar Millan (Midey doesn't like Cesar Millan, so Midey posts silly stuff like this: "You know Cezer Millan gettin a devorce? Iss true. I guess dem Rules, Boundries & Limitations dint go over so well when he try dem on his wife.") and now, switching to this human blog, I keep being tempted to spel theengs rong like Midey would.

May all good things blow your way on an elegant autumnal breeze today, and may that same elegant autumnal breeze make your leaf blower unnecessary, as long as said breeze doesn't blow 100% of your leaves directly into your neighbors' yard, if you have nice neighbors, like we do, but if your neighbors are mean...ALL the leaves RIGHT into their yards.

Diamond and Rhinestone

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh no! I really missed putting up the Sunday update. Ooops!


Here's a quick update on the cowpoke.

His next 90-day scan/checkup is on October 21st.

We will really (theoretically) have solid news by Oct. 22nd, telling us how he did on his tests.

But I'm kinda worried because it's only a CT scan and blood test. The last time he got a CT scan at Duke, just a week before surgery, TWO RADIOLOGISTS AT DUKE read the scan and the report came back that he was 100% cancer-free. (Then why did they do the surgery--that's another question).

But how WRONG can a scan be? He had three giant tumors in his bladder and a major honker in his prostate, plus a bunch of little lymph tumors, and skin cancer, and the CT scan missed 100 percent of them! Not only a CT scan, but a CT scan with DYE!

So how are we supposed to feel anything good if he gets a clean report after the 21st?


Plus, he has had a scary symptom this week, involving blood, but I won't go into details or he'll scold me when he reads this. hahaha Maybe he'll forget to read his blog! Hmmmm. Tempted to tell you....but, it was a brand new development--we've seen blood before, but this was completely new in its features--and shocked me so thoroughly that I had to lie down for quite a while and try to calm down. My thoughts go from zero to crazy so fast. Bill, on the other hand, was calm about it. As always.

At least the nature views in our mountains (see that quick subject change?) are glamorous outside today. The colors all peaked on the same day (today) which is kind of rare, and everything is blindingly, neonly BRIGHT yellow and red, and all the trunks look black, with a clear blue sky.

There. I left it on a positive note!

More this coming Sunday. We've HAD guests and BEEN guests almost non-stop for the last 14 days, hence my tardy post. And my laziness in trying to think of a better word than "tardy" right there. :)

Love and lassos,
Cowgirl and Wild Willy

Friday, October 1, 2010

Post for Sunday Oct. 3

I'm writing this early because, God willing and my 20-year-old car doesn't die during interstate travel, I'm going to be in a faraway town on Sunday, without my cowboy--a very sad thing! I can't stand to be away from him any more! *big frown*big tears*

Bill is doing great, except for one day this week when he lost 9 pounds in 24 hours. That was kind of scary! Otherwise, his weight is steady. He has no more pain this week, and nothing at all to complain about.

He gets his next 90-day checkup in about 2 weeks. Yikes!

We're on a new eating plan, because we found out from our friend, saint Anna, that carageneen causes tumors to grow REALLY REALLY fast! So we ditched all the food in our house with carageneen (obviously I didn't take the time to learn to spell that word) and found out that all we had left was pretty much vegetables.

We also read that the monks on Mt Athos are on some diet that has been shown to lead to the lowest cancer rates on the planet, almost zero, in thousands of years! So we got onto that diet plan, too.

They eat bread and tea for breakfast, and for lunch and dinner, vegetables (mostly raw), along with rice and pasta, fried potatoes, olives, olive oil. For dinner, a bowl of lentils every night, and whatever raw vegetables they can cram in during the reading of whatever the monks read out loud at night. They also drink this special Greek wine (red) and have some kind of watery sherbet for dessert. That's all I know about it. Oh, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they leave out the olive oil. And on weekends, they can have fish.

They're reportedly all thinner than Kate Moss.

No women are allowed on the mountain, ever. Prince Charles goes there several times a year. Thousands of men visit year round--approach by boat via Aegean Sea. Free to visit. If you go, tell me more about what they eat. hahah

So that's the news here.

Till next Sunday, your wishing-she-weren't-leaving cowgirl, and Wild Willy