Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Big Day Ahead

Tomorrow, April 20, is a big day for all of us. See, last month Frédéric was diagnosed with cancer. The Big C. Not just one, but two. He found a growth in his testicle, and after a few doctors visits, a cancerous growth was confirmed. Within days he was whisked in to surgery to have it removed.

When Angelina was born, and in NICU, we often said "We're lucky in our bad luck." Well, We're still lucky in our bad luck. Cancer is never good, but if you're going to have it, might as well have one that has a 90-95% cure rate. The pathology on the tumor eventually came back as stage IB cancer. Not as good as IA, but way better than II or III.

Alas, it was not as simple as that. In a CT scan following surgery to see if the testicular cancer (TC) had metastasized, a second tumor was found. On the kidney. TC goes like this: testicle -->lymph nodes ---> abdomen/lungs ---> brain and then maybe, just maybe, kidney. Basically TC never goes to the kidney unless the whole body is affected. Which, in Frederic's case, it's not. That is clear from all the exams. So, this looks like a totally independent, second primary tumor on his kidney. What are the chances of that? Almost none. None of the 20 or so doctors who've reviewed his case locally had ever seen this, and they were all so amazed that they were all calling their med school buddies to see if any of them had seen it. All no. I did eventually find one person in NY who'd had a similar situation. So he's not the ONLY one, but he's still a medical oddity. I'm waiting to see it written up as a case review in the Journal of Urology sometime in the near future.

Anyway, so We're Lucky in Our Bad Luck Part II. Here's the deal. Kidney tumors are very slow growing. Often they're not found until they're in stage II and showing symptoms. Cure rate is still good at 80%, but they're not susceptible to chemotherapy or radiation, only surgical removal. So finding it early is key. And this was found early. Thanks to the testicular cancer. They never would have looked for a kidney tumor without the TC. So, in a way, testicular cancer saved him. At this point, the kidney tumor looks to be in Stage I as well, with an excellent prognosis.

Wed, April 20, Frédéric will go back into surgery for 6+ hours for two things: partial (hopefully) nephrectomy where they'll remove the tumor and try to save at least part of the kidney. They will also do an RPLND - retroperitoneal lymph node dissection, which will remove the lymph nodes nearest the testicle, most likely affected by the testicular tumor. While two kidneys aren't absolutely necessary, if he does end up needing chemo for the TC (hopefully not), the drugs are toxic to the kidney, so he needs as much kidney function as possible. The surgeons are the best, and we all feel positive he'll have a very positive outcome.

As for Angelina, she's aware Papa has to have an operation, and she's ready to "help" him get better. She doesn't seem too scared, but after the last surgery she didn't want to leave his side. This is a bigger one, and he'll be in hospital recovering for awhile. She's already prepared to "scrub up" when she goes into visit him (like we told her we had to do when she was a baby in NICU).

And on the "Why I love Lavaca" front, well, it's not just Lavaca, but our whole extended community here, the outpouring of love, concern, HELP, is just beyond belief. So many friends have stepped forward to help with the kids,prepare meals, go grocery shopping for us, even come over at 5am to stay with the kids so I can take Frederic to the hospital. We are so blessed to have such incredible support locally. We are also so blessed to have such worldwide support: friends and family across the globe have been amazing. I love that masses are being said for Frederic in a little village church in Ireland as well as in Oxnard, CA. That prayers and good thoughts are being sent to us from every continent.

While Cancer is scary, Frédéric is stronger and will kick cancer's butt! With a little help from our friends.


Megan said...

This is the first of my catching up with this news. I am terribly sorry you are facing this (and you are the second friend of mine to have a husband diagnosed with cancer this year). Thoughts and prayers will be coming your way from New Zealand (and thenfrom various points between here and Scotland, via Dubai).

Cherise said...

Thanks Megan!

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