Day +676: And you’re rushing headlong, you’ve got a new goal…

10/6/12: Sorry it has taken so long to post an update after my consult with the surgeon on September 28 but I like to stay relatively positive here. After the doctor kept me waiting two hours, then rushed me through the appointment and still didn’t finish in time to coordinate scheduling for my surgeries, I had nothing good to say. At least Michael kept you entertained in the meantime – he does have a way with words!

Everything got sorted Monday morning, and the appointments are in place: speech pathology baseline and preop physical October 8, robotic tongue surgery (partial glossectomy) on October 11 (our 28th wedding anniversary), and bilateral modified radical neck dissection on October 24 (two days before my birthday). I’ve already ordered my bride of Frankenstein wig for Halloween from Amazon!

I found a video on You Tube that does a good job describing the transoral robotic surgery (TORS) procedure. I’m so thankful that this fairly new technique is available. Surgeons used to have to cut through the jaw to reach tumors in the throat and then do reconstructive surgery afterwards to clean up the mess. With the non-invasive robot, only the tumor and surrounding margins are resected.

Lymph NodesI’ll spare you the gory details of the neck dissection (even the name is creepy, isn’t it!) but did find an interesting clinical anatomy document with diagrams describing all the levels of lymph nodes in the neck. Basically, “radical” in this case means removing the nodes at all levels, while “modified” means preserving the nerves and other major structures. The doctors say they don’t expect a significant functional impact. I hope they’re right! I will have some great “Frankenstein” incisions just in time for Halloween though.

I don’t know yet if I’ll need radiation therapy later. That will depend on the extent of the cancer in my lymph nodes. Because of my post MDS and transplant status, they’re moving cautiously.

I had my routine hematologist visit on Wednesday. My blood is still looking good, and it’s always reassuring to talk with Dr. Bahrani. We talked a lot about my upcoming treatments, and he believes I’m on the right path for recovery. He also allayed a lot of my fears, especially regarding the lymph node removal. I don’t see him again until January but he asked me to email him with updates in the interim.

That’s it for now. We’re headed out for a movie date shortly, a double feature of Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania with Mexican dinner in between.

Michael or I will keep you updated with my progress.

October 3, 2012
WBC: 11.3 (norm 3.0-11.2)
Granulocytes (~ANC): 5.7 (norm 1.4-9.0)
Platelets: 254 (norm 130-382)
RBC: 4.59 (norm 3.90-4.90)
HGB (hemoglobin): 15.4 (norm 11.5-14.3)
HCT (hematocrit): 45.9 (norm 34.2-42.2)
Bilirubin: 0.6 (norm 0.0-1.2)
Alkaline phosphatase, S: 124 (norm 25-150)
AST: 22 (normal 0-40)
ALT: 19 (normal 0-40)


  1. hope you enjoyed the pate….and pie…smile! good luck

  2. Keeping the positive thoughts coming your way. Hope you have a speedy recovery from your surgeries. LOVE the haloweenie theme. Love you. Miss you. Off to read the links here now.

  3. Thank you for keeping us posted.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sparing us the gory details. And I will pass on the video too. I do not have the stomach for stuff like that. Sorry.
    I am glad you have some direction now and will get the treatment you need soon. Our prayers will be with you both. Looking forward to your pictures of Halloween! 🙂

  5. Karen you have a way with words! Make even the hardest and painful facts seem like fun. Thanks for updating and you are in my prayers

  6. God bless you and your challenge – sounds like you’ve got enough spirit and heart to do anything!

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