Today marks exactly one week since the initial discovery of Patrick's tumor. As I'm sure any cancer survivor would tell you, the first few weeks after diagnosis are a whirlwind. Patrick and Emily have been to several different specialists and to many appointments. Meanwhile, they are also adjusting to the new mindset they must have to move forward with treatment.
In an effort to "catch everyone up," I feel I can best do that by creating a simple timeline of the last week.
-- Friday, March 29, 2013: Patrick went to his gastroenterologist for a "routine" colonoscopy due to changes in his bowel habits and a family history of colorectal cancer. At the time of this procedure, most everyone (the doc included) were concerned about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis based on Patrick's symptoms. The colonoscopy unexpectedly revealed a 7cm tumor in Patrick's rectum. Tissue biopsies were taken, and Patrick was scheduled for a CT scan.
-- Tuesday, April 2, 2013: Patrick underwent a CT scan to look for cancer lesions elsewhere in his body.
-- Thursday, April 4, 2013: Patrick and Emily returned to the gastroenterologist to discuss the results of the biopsies and the CT scan. The tumor biopsies indicated that Patrick's tumor was malignant (cancerous), and although it was deemed "partially inconclusive" there was some evidence of lymph node involvement. The CT scan showed a small lesion on Patrick's liver. However, it is not known if this liver lesion is related to the cancer in Patrick's rectum.
-- Friday, April 5, 2013: Patrick and Emily met with a medical oncologist. This doctor further explained Patrick's tumor "anatomy." He concluded that the lymph nodes surrounding the tumor are inflamed but not necessarily cancerous (think of how the lymph nodes in your neck become swollen when you have strep throat). Unfortunately, he also informed Patrick and Emily that there were two questionable lesions on Patrick's lungs. Like the liver lesions, it is currently unknown whether these are related to the rectal cancer. The oncologist scheduled Patrick for a PET scan next week. This scan will help determine whether the lymph nodes surrounding the tumor are inflamed or cancerous. This will help in "staging" Patrick's cancer.
-- The Plan: On Monday, April 8, 2013, Patrick and Emily are traveling to UVA for a follow-up colonoscopy, a tumor ultrasound, and to meet with a surgical oncologist. It is a HUGE day for them. More biopsies of the tumor will be taken during this colonoscopy, and the tumor's "anatomy" will be further examined during the ultrasound. Each of these procedures, along with the PET scan, will be used both for "staging" Patrick's tumor and for developing a more longterm treatment plan. The PET scan will be scheduled for next week. The lesions on Patrick's liver and lungs are too small to biopsy at this time. In the future, their reaction to chemotherapy will determine whether or not they are related to the cancer.
* * *
Want to pray specifically?
Please pray that the lymph nodes surrounding Patrick's tumor are ONLY INFLAMED and do NOT contain cancer cells. This would mean a less advanced-stage cancer diagnosis.
However, any and all prayers are greatly appreciated!