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    User: GregP_WN

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    Celebration (Birthday): Since summer 2008, there have been many celebrations-More birthdays for me and everyone in the family (Daughter-spouse-2 boys) (Son-spouse-2 girls), husband, etc.
    My son-in-law was discharged from the service and was able to obtain his immigration visa to live and work in the US.
    In 2010 I was chosen as the Grand Marshal for the local Relay for Life and then was named a Badge of Courage winner because I "try" to keep an up-beat attitude. As a participant and member of a Cancer Survivors Support Group, several members suggested me as a replacement for a facilitator whose health was failing-so that's where I spend my Monday mornings.
    I work more hours than ever, and am doing everything possible to ease a transition for our son to become CEO of the company and our long time office manager to retire.

    Last weekend we sat with our 5 & 7 year old granddaughters. The swings go high, the moon dough is weird, the dance recital had audience participation, and did you know that if you spool off a long piece of toilet paper and clip it to your hair, you, too can be Rapunzle.

    It's been over three (3) years with No Evidence of Disease. I rotate every 3 months now-labs, ultrasound, labs, CT. And the CT is scheduled for mid September.
    My PC sees me every 4 months to keep the rest of me functioning effectively.
    So for now, I'm good to go and will make an effort to add pertinent information to this site, prn.

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    Oh No (Cancer is back/Recurred ): 2008 Spring. I've been here before. And I don't like the news. This time the node cannot be biopsied as it is located behind the bifurcation of the aorta in the lower abdomen. A PET was scheduled -Tuesdays, as that's when the trailer mounted machine is brought to the south coast- and the node lit up as anticipated.

    By then, Dr. Sokoloff had moved on to University of Arizona, and I elected to have a surgeon practicing in our hospital perform the surgery. I'm very glad, as it allowed family to visit easily and my husband could stay home and/or go to work part time. When it was time for discharge, I was really glad the drive was only 20 minutes as riding in a car was very uncomfortable.

    The surgeon was able to remove a lot of adhesions in the lower abdomen that had occurred when I had a hysterectomy/oopherectomy and laser ablation for extensive endometriosis. That may have been part of the post surgical slower recovery. During the 2007 surgery, the pre-op and anesthesia EKG uncovered a Left Bundle Branch Block that seems to appear when I am under anesthesia. During 2008, the LBBB again showed up and the medication they gave me took my BP too low. I was put on medication to regulate my BP while in hospital. I also developed a UTI.
    After discharge, I wrote down my concerns about treatment and care and requested an appointment with the Risk Manager, who just happens to be my neighbor and a friend. I was able to get a complete print out of all my records and reviewed them with the RM. I questioned one situation that was part memory part dream, and evidently a crash cart was called for when my BP dropped.

    All-in-all, this surgery took at least six weeks for physical recovery and even longer emotionally. During the fall, I met with my PC physician and we discussed all my meds. He changed my anti-depressant from Paxil to mirtazapine. I had been on Paxil since 1993 and it had worked well. Mirtazapine did not work for me. As the Paxil was slowly removed from my system and mirtazapine was left to perform the job...it didn't. A vacation to Ireland in November with my husband and another couple was fine; then the bottom started falling out for me. I became sad, had difficulty focussing on tasks, began to cry easily, and developed a respiratory infection that I couldn't shake. By the first part of December, I recognized that I needed help and scheduled an appointment with a psychologist/counselor.

    I saw the counselor for 5 visits about 3-4 weeks apart. In addition to working out some small things, we uncovered the fact that I'm a planner, an organizer, and like to be in control of myself and what is occurring in my life. And with Cancer, I have no control of what it is doing. I got my PC to put me back on Paxil, and have been back on it since spring of 2008.

    We-spouse and friends-went to Mazatlan for two weeks in April 2008. The upper respiratory infection had returned in March and I was put on meds for it. But not enough to cure it. I was hospitalized for 24 hours with bronchitis while in Mexico. Not bad, but surely not the way to spend a vacation. The one good thing that came out of the R&R and potent meds was that it cleared up a residual UTI that kept showing negative on a urinalysis.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Surgery): OHSU had new offices for the physicians down on the waterfront and an aerial tram to ride between the building and the hospital campus. That was fun for the grandsons.
    We were able to stay with our daughter, and she could be with my husband during surgery.

    Surgery was short this time, only four hours, and performed by a resident under Dr. Sokoloff's supervision. In hospital recovery was rapid after the first walking expedition with the nurse. When the grandsons came to visit, I got to take many hikes. The young granddaughters even remembered a nurses aid who had brought them ice cream cups the year before. I was discharged, and my husband and I started the 5 hour drive home. I felt great, my husband was fatigued, and I even drove the last 50 miles.

    The following day, I drove to town for lunch and to buy groceries. At the sandwich shop, the owner asked when I was scheduled for surgery and I said I had it six days ago. Her expression was priceless.

    Other than waiting a reasonable time to start back doing everything, the dissolving sutures worked well, there were no after surgical problems, and life seemed to pick up where I left off.

    As a side note, earlier in the year (Feb.) my husband and I had visited relatives in the south and did some sight-seeing. Our last day in Charleston, S.C., while loading the car, I caught my heel on the high, narrow curb step. The twist and fall dislocated my left foot and did a tri-maleolar fracture of the tib-fib. A re-alignment and temporary cast allowed my to get to Atlanta and fly home, where I had surgery the following week. Being on crutches for 7 weeks was really an inconvenience. And to add insult to injury, using the crutches caused a trigger thumb and tendon nodule that had to be removed later in the year.

    Because the cancer had recurred once, I think the oncologist that took over my case felt I was OK to go six months between CTs. Between December and May, there was a noticable change in a lymph node.

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    Oh No (Cancer is back/Recurred ): CT scans-the bearer of good and bad news. The comparison between two scans in February and May of 2007 showed a node enlarging. Ah, Crud!!! or something like that. I was scheduled for a needle biopsy at the local hospital and it went OK. The radiologist who performed it was an "older brother" to girls in my daughter's pre-school dance class. Even kids grow up.

    I went about doing my job, with a sense of fear in my gut, and called the clinic a day later to get the results, which were positive for Clear Cell, again. The node was attached to the Inferior Vena Cava and the Duodenum.

    Phone calls and arrangements and plans, Oh My! Two of us were slated to leave as delegate and alternate to a convention in two days. Check that off the to do list.
    E-mail Dr. Sokoloff. He was at a conference on the East Coast, but thanks to blackberrys and short exchanges, I had a scheduled surgery date by the time he returned four days later.

    I'd been through the routine the year prior so I didn't have to start from scratch getting everything ready, but it was still emotional. I cried "once" as I was driving home following the news, and then went into action mode. It was harder on family and friends to say, "It's back."

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    Procedure or Surgery (Surgery): And a long surgery (11.5 hours) at that. The right radical without adrenal gland went smoothly. The tumor was fair sized at 12 cm x 8.5 cm x 4 cm. and the actual kidney removal by the urologic-surgical-oncologist only took about two hours. Dr. Mitchell Sokoloff then turned everything over to Dr. Kevin Billingsly, another surgeon who specializes in thoracic surgery and cancer. The left half of my liver was resected and positive for one tumor; several wedge biopsies were removed from the right lobe of my liver and found to be negative; a colecystectomy was performed due to improper drainage and a congenital defect; and a lymphadenectomy was performed on a set of nodes, with 2 of the 11 found to be positive.
    All cancer was found to be Clear Cell RCC, with a Dx at T2M2N1.

    My hospital recovery was standard for the invasiveness of the surgery, my progress was normal, and I left the hospital on the 5th day after surgery.
    The inability to use my abdominal and back muscles was the most difficult to deal with. I had to have someone put a low box on my side of the bed just to get in (and I'm tall with long legs.) I had family with me the first week and friends supplied dinners.
    I was weak, and didn't feel like eating much; but was able to get into a car, and at least enjoy picnics, riding a cart in the grocery store, and visiting with friends.

    At three weeks post-surgery the normal recovery was interrupted, when I asked to be taken to the ER with nausea and extensive non-productive vomiting. I was Dx'd with a mild case of pancreatitis, give an anti-nausea Rx, and sent home to rest and recover, and to start over with eating, again. My husband and I flew to Portland for the staples to be removed and for the second three weeks, I continued to recover as I would have expected. Walking, shopping, even driving were added. As a business owner, I was able to set my own hours, and at first I would go in for an hour, then add an hour, until I was back up to about 1/2 time.

    At one month, I had an appointment in Portland with both Dr. Sokoloff for a medical check and release, and Dr. Ryan, an oncologist. Because the surgery was purported to have removed all active renal cell carcinoma, and there were no active sites, I was told that I did not meet the profile to be admitted to any of the trials being done in 2006. Although I would not have looked forward to any of the side effects, I was temporarily taken aback at the realization there would be no drug treatment.

    As soon as the steri strips that replaced the staples had "rotted off" and I was sure there were no open spots on the in the incision, I started spending 1/2 hour, and later up to an hour, at the public swimming pool during the noon-adult swim. It was great for me physically, and helped me get back to "normal" by about 6 weeks post surgery.

    I was able to do yard work and gardening, housework, drive, perform my job, and eat a normal diet.

    My local oncologist placed me on an every three month CT scan with follow-up blood work and a visit with the oncology nurse.

    I had begun attending a Cancer Survivors Support Group prior to surgery, and still do so, today.