The pathology report from 4/8 surgery returned 4 additional lymph nodes. All of them were normal!!
She was released from Harris Hospital in Fort Worth yesterday (Thurs) after having a post-op infection and continues to take an oral anti-biotic. It will take some time to rebuild her overall strength. She will continue seeing a therapist to gain back as much range of motion in her left arm as possible.
The attitude from here on out is she is cancer free. A final decision must be made about whether to go forward with close observation only or go ahead with the INTRON A therapy to reduce the chance of recurrence. As noted previously INTRON A is not a very compelling option and as of now she doesn't intend to undergo the treatment. The next scheduled follow up is with the surgeon at MD Anderson on 6/16/10 in Houston.
Unless anything significant arises the updates will stop for now. Thank you so much for the encouraging words, help with meals, and all other support offered by so many friends and loved ones.
A special thank you to our mothers for all the help with keeping our boys daily routine in tack and our home in perfect order while we have been away. You played such a major roll in getting us through the last 11 weeks!
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Erica developed a 102 fever Saturday evening. We contacted the surgeon in Houston and he started her on an antibiotic. At that time there were no obvious signs of infection around the surgery area.
On Sunday her drainage had turned to a white color, which is evidence of infection, and fever persisted. We contacted the local surgeon on Monday morning and he asked to see her right away. After looking her over he decided to admit her to the hospital to administer antibiotics by IV and better control the pain.
By Monday night she was looking and feeling a lot better. This morning (Tuesday) they took out the drain tube and that has further relieved the pain. A therapist is coming today to help her with exercises that will increase the range of motion of her left arm. The doctors expect she will be able to go home tomorrow as long as she can move from IV pain meds to oral and remain comfortable.
Erica decided she was ready to make the trip home about 7:00 pm on Friday. She ate soup, salad and bread-sticks takeout from her favorite Olive Garden then we hit the road. We arrived home about 2:00 am Saturday.
She did great on the ride home trying to sleep as much of the time as she could. The big bumps hurt pretty bad. She describes the worst of the pain as someone beating her in the chest with a sledge hammer. Her chest muscles and nerves on the left side were moved around a lot during surgery to access the tissue and lymph nodes that were removed. The recliner seems to be her most comfortable place to rest.
Her next doctor appointment is with the surgeon (Dr. Crawford) in Fort Worth on Thursday 4/15. This was a previously scheduled follow up for her previous surgery. The appointment will now serve as her post-op follow up instead of going back to Houston for it. Hopefully the drain tube will be able to come out that day. The ON-Q pain pump appears to be almost empty. It was supposed to supply 48 - 72 hours of numbing medicine internally over the affected area. We will be able to remove the pain pump catheters at home when the medicine reservoir is completely empty.
Will update again after receiving pathology report...
Surgery check in was 9:30 am on Thursday and surgery began about 11:30. It lasted a little over two hours. The surgeon reported he removed quite a bit of remaining tissue and at least a few additional lymph nodes.
We left the hospital at 9:30 am Friday to go back to the hotel. She has a drain tube and a catheter that is infusing a numbing medication directly from a pump worn in a pouch held by a shoulder strap. The pain has definitely intensified since being off of the IV meds but she is doing great. This afternoon is the first time she has felt any nausea which is probably from several oral doses of pain pills after leaving hospital today.
The MRI results from Tuesday's scan returned clear. The pathology report from surgery is expected in seven to ten days. We will head home as soon as she feels she can. The surgery follow up will be at home with Dr. Crawford. He will remove the drain tube when drainage is below 30cc in last twenty four hours.
Whether or not there are additional positive nodes from the pathology report will weigh heavily on whether she chooses to go ahead with INTRON A treatment or with observation alone. The MD Anderson surgeon would like to see her in 3 months and then every 6 months thereafter. She will continue to see the local Oncologist in Fort Worth on a very regular basis for the first couple of years. For another set of eyes she will see the MD Anderson Medical Oncologist when making the trip to Houston to see the surgeon every 6 months.
The surgeon told us in Wednesday's pre-op consultation that he expects the pathology report will be negative. He offered that pending those results he personally would not undergo INTRON A therapy as the benefits are very vague for the long list of side effects (he reluctantly discusses this and regularly says he prefers to leave drug therapy topics to the Medical Oncologist). He made the comment that he would support an observation only decision and suggested she get on with life with the attitude that she is cancer free.
Decided on additional surgery to remove any remaining lymph nodes and fatty tissue that Dr. Lucci (Surgical Oncologist at MD Anderson) sees necessary. Leaving today for MD Anderson...4/6 is MRI of brain, 4/7 pre-op, 4/8 surgery.
Blood work returned a different DNA type than what's required for the proposed clinical trial. Traditional Intron A therapy is the only current option. After recovering from surgery and finding out if there were additional positive nodes we will give Intron A final consideration. When weighing the risks and side effects it is very hard to see the benefit. The drug company quotes statistics from the FDA trial that approved the drug as having 66% of patients suffering adverse reactions, 14% suffering life threatening reactions, and 96% as having severe fatigue. The benefits are quoted as reducing the likeliness of recurrence by 10%.
Harvey & Erica Braden
Journal of our journey with a Metastatic Melanoma Diagnosis. Erica was diagnosed Stage 3 in January 2010 and then Stage 4 in April 2018.