Brian successfully followed Dr.'s recovery orders for the last 10 days. Lot's of word games, reading, listening to baseball and napping while taking his meds and using the peg tube to get enough water and nutrition. The continued support from all of you really held him (and me) up. Plus great company helped fill the days. Becca and Ryan arrived three days after surgery and were here for nearly a week bringing their wonderful energy into the mix. My brother Dan & Kristen came by Sunday evening while they were in town for a fun FHH (family happy hour). Monday, with Brian's blessing, Becca, Ryan and I went up the river with friends Bruce & Vicki for two days of camping and floating (a scheduled trip before Brian's surgery cropped up). We especially missed Brian in late afternoon since dinner is usually timed around the evening bite. So we just imagined he was out there fishing and ate after dark! While we were gone Ryan's brother Nate came up to mow our lawns and our neighbors brought up more firewood from trees they've taken down. And Jack & Josie maintained their therapy healing dog roles.
Brian's post surgery follow-up with Dr. Hussein was yesterday morning. The Dr. went right to work removing the two drain lines and numerous stitches in Brian's neck. Then he went through the pathology report in detail. All good news, couldn't have a better result! Of the 15 lymph nodes and 1 salivary gland that came out, only 2 lymph nodes contained cancer cells. Those 2 nodes were partially calcified (swollen and harder from radiation) with nonviable degenerating (dead) tumor cells. All the other nodes and tissue were negative for metastatic carcinoma (cancer). These nodes are where the cancer would have spread next if alive, so basically the same as having clear margins.
Then Dr. Hussein said "You are Cured!". You could almost see a wave of relief just spread through the air in the room. Going into the appointment we anticipated good news, but the concern of getting bad news continues to nag at you until you actually hear the results.
Dr. prescribed continued chair rest with no activity for the next week to let his neck incision heal. Brian's throat is still very swollen inside making swallowing difficult. But he's eating scrambled eggs in the mornings now and trying soup in the evenings while using the peg tube for the rest. He's down to 146 lbs again, but he'll gain it back once swallowing is easier. Brian asked the Dr. if he could mow the lawn. After frowning the Dr. said not for another week. However, Dr. did give him the green light to go on a Montana camping fishing trip, as long as it's After September 1st.
We left his office and headed straight over to Cancer Care to make appointments with Brian's radiation and oncology doctors with the goal to get their blessing to have his Port surgically removed (since bird hunting season is right around the corner already!). Then off to buy a new lawn mower (always good to get a new toy!). Brian was on the phone as we drove around spreading the good news and planning the fishing trip. By the time we got home though we needed to dab up leakage from his incision, confirming to Brian that his neck does need a bit more healing time.
One year ago this month Brian got the good report back from his prostate Dr. that a resent biopsy check was clear of cancer cells. Brian didn't seem relieved when he told me though, and then explained he needed to see his general doctor about a nagging scratchy throat and swollen neck lymph node. One year later, Ok unfortunately still a sore throat for a bit longer, But that lymph node along with the responsible cancer is totally history!!
There's more follow up ahead of course, regular appointments with all his doctors and scans and so on. But now he is cancer free and we have no reason to think he won't stay that way! Brian still has to recover and heal and build himself back up to normal activity, which has become more than a long haul. Thank you all again for continuing to stay with him on this journey, we are both so very grateful for your support!!
ps: It's not looking likely his taste buds will return differently than they were previously. So I'm starting research on programmable taste bud implants. We'll get him to like something other than Miller Genuine Draft beer yet!!
* Brian's future son-in-law, daughter, wife
* Brian's last nap with drain lines
* Stitches removal!
* The Cancer Free Mow Master with new toy!