Friday, January 11, 2013

HIPPA violation!

Steve here with an update. 
Here's the "cut to the chase, spare me all the medical details" version:
Had colonoscopy and spine MRI yesterday which were promising for no spread.  Today she is set to have surgery, most likely late morning which could last three or more hours.  Plan is to take uterus, tubes, ovarias, some of the abdominal fat (omentum) and possibly a portion of small intestine, then off to recovery.  That's pretty much it.

Here is a tad longer version (HIPPA?  Dunno what that is):

The procedures yesterday, as noted above were for the following reasons: spine MRI due to some pretty severe neck pain.  Doctors wanted to make sure there was no metastatic involvement anywhere in the spine.  Were fairly sure going in there wasn't as it is very rare for ovarian cancer to spread to the spine, especially the cervical spine.

Colonoscopy was because on the CT scan, the terminal ileum was quite inflamed and the lumen (opening in the middle) was almost entirely blocked.  No way to tell what was the cause, so Dr. Tobin had to go in and have a look to see if she was dealing with something like inflammatory bowel disease as a separate entity or if there was cancer which was doing the blocking.  Fortunately all he saw was some mild inflammation and no lesions that were suspicious for cancer, though he did indeed take many biopsies (results pending).

We had a long meeting twice with her surgeon, Dr. Kathryn McGonigle who is a gynecologic surgeon with a specialty in oncology.  She is quite well trained, which is like saying that Michael Phelps knows a little about swimming.  In short, our impression so far is that she is the best.  Spent a lot of time with us, wasn't rushed and yet very focused on what she (and Gabrielle) needs to do during the planned surgery and beyond.  She said that she cannot even say that she has ovarian cancer for sure till she gets a piece of tissue and sends it off to the lab, but that everything is suspicious for it, and if it is indeed ovarian cancer, it is most likely Stage 3.  This is because it has already spread beyond the ovaries (some suspicion of involvement in the aforementioned omentum (abdominal fat).  If that is the case, she will be looking at chemotherapy which could start during the operation with instillation of the agent into the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity.  She would take the organs I mentioned above, but would most likely start with a laparoscopic approach first to see what she was dealing with then proceed to an open ("unzip") incision from just above the belly button to points south.  This is to allow her to be very thorough in exploring the entire abdominal organs for any hint of anything that doesn't look right. 

Surgery is following one case that is about two to three hours long.  Dr. McGonigle thinks that she will start with Gabrielle lat morning or early afternoon.  She couldn't give us an estimate on time other than to say that it "may be long".  Fine by me, take all the time you need, Doc!

Although talk of chemotherapy is a little premature as we don't know: a) if she does have ovarian cancer and b) what it is if it is cancer, but here is what we were told yesterday:  she is most likely looking at chemotherapy for about 18 weeks.  I was told at least three times the cycle length and such but for the life of me cannot recall.  Dr. McGonigle said that chemotherapy is a completely separate discussion for later after she is through with surgery, which I think is wise as focusing on one thing at a time is best (like the upcoming surgery).

Yesterday, we had a pretty restful day once the above procedures were over.  By early evening, Gabrielle was pretty sick of looking at me so she sent me home (strongly hinting that I needed a shower and a better night's sleep than I had gotten the night before on the roll away cot in her room).  Daniel came home with me and we both hit the sack about 9:00.  We'll be heading back to Northwest soon (and I will indeed have showered by then).

I can't end this without saying how overwhelmed we are by the kindness of everyone who has rallied so quickly to be of support to us.  It has been so humbling to see so many kind and caring faces, and to receive gifts of flowers, food, cards and such.  It is very clear that Gabrielle has a wide circle of people who love her and that makes me delighted.  In the midst of the shock of this news, especially its suddeness, my one dominant emotion is that of thankfulness.  I am so thankful for all of you, for the great care she is receiving at Northwest Hospital (nurses, CNA's, LPN's, doctors, etc...all first rate), and for my fantastic children.  It is a delight to see Daniel and Renee ministering to Gabrielle as much as they have (Renee got the cot last night).  They are AMAZING children and I am so proud of them that I am bursting at the seams (or perhaps that's the mint brownies I just polished off for of the food gifts). 

Till next time...Steve signing off (or whatever it is bloggers do).


  1. Steve, thank you for the background information. I'm so deeply sorry you are all walking through this. (((Hugs))) to each one of you. I'm keeping each of you close in my heart today, praying for your peace and as much restfulness through the process as is possible. It's OK to rest, although it's nearly impossible. - Christine

  2. Sending prayers and thoughts for all of you from North Carolina. Thank you for keeping us updated throughout the process. May peaces abound.