Thursday, January 26, 2012

"See you in three months!"

Those were the words of my surgeon in clinic today. Just about a 3 hours round trip drive for an almost 5 minute long appointment. Doesn't bother me though, I'm glad I'm not considered "sick" enough to warrant a lot of attention. I did feel bad though for the two med students who sat in on the appointment where the doctor didn't even do a neuro exam! I do hope they got something more exciting to see today than the healthy 24 year old with an interesting haircut :-) His first words to me today were of course "so who gave you that great haircut?". I think neurosurgeons secretly choose their specialty just so they can get some enjoyment out of coming up with new hair styles...I've seen all kinds during my brain tumor research (although I still have not found anyone who had the same ear to ear incision/front of the head shave that I have).

So in my five minute appointment today I learned that my surgeon is definitely the guy to stick with as far as follow ups go. He is far more optimistic than the other doctors I have met, and more optimistic than the pathologists and the radiologists looking at my slides & MRI's. While those doctors all gave me a time line for regrowth of my tumor (1-3 years according to one doc, 10-30 according to another), or a "worrisome & concerning" report of what they saw (radiology & pathology), when I asked Dr. L if he thought my tumor would regrow he answered with a positive "no". He went on to tell me that he is a very optimistic person, thought he got everything out and doesn't think it will regrow, however if it does, we will catch it early and take care of it but he doesn't want me to stress about it, so I won't. Positive Thinking!

Dr. L doesn't even want my next MRI until April-ish, that's FOUR months out from my surgery. Does that make me a little anxious? Yes, but do I trust him? Also yes. So I've been back to working out, even spin classes, and will be going back to work next week and just getting on with my life, picking up where I left off and I am ready to do so! He did tell me though that we have just gotten on a roller coaster ride together. No two of my MRI's are ever going to look exactly alike, MRI's change based on what angle the pictures were taken at, the quality of the picture, even the tech that took it. He said that we will see changes that look like something growing and changes that look like something shrinking. He said he wouldn't start to get concerned unless there was a significantly large change, a change/growth that is consistent over 3-4 scans or a return of my symptoms or new symptoms. For now I will have MRI's every three months and an appointment with him after each one, he was hopeful though that we would be able to space them out to yearly in 2-3 years so long as everything remains stable. Sounds good to me!

That was the end of my appointment, I will see him again in three months. In the meantime, while there is nothing I can do to make absolutely sure my tumor will never grow back, I am taking some proactive steps. I started reading Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. Nope, it's not just for people with cancer, it's for anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle and take their own steps towards preventing cancer development because, lets face it, cancer is on the rise and while treatments are getting better (for some) prevention is not. And, more young adults are being diagnosed with cancer than ever before. It is a very interesting book and I am learning a lot. The dietary part of it is what I am focusing on now. There are quite a few of researched/evidenced based studies that have proven certain foods to have cancer fighting properties. From preventing inflammation, stopping new blood vessel growth that feed tumors to actually stopping the division of cancer cells. While I won't say no to french toast at a breakfast out I have started becoming much more aware of what I'm eating and am working on cutting processed foods completely out of my every day diet and focusing more on a primarily "plant based" diet. This is pretty big for my no-cook, no food creation self but I'm about two weeks into it, have made a few successful meals and have avoided most processed foods I used to eat all the time (dark chocolate is still allowed so I get my sweet tooth kick). Anyways, we'll see how it goes, my goal is for it to eventually become routine for me, and for my tumor to stay away of course!

Well there probably won't be too many more long interesting posts for a while, which is fine by me! One more thing, since I drove all the way to Hopkins today for a very short meeting I also decided to pick up my two MRI's I'd had done there. Now I'm not going to post the after surgery MRI's because really, they're not all that different looking from the before ones. The space that was once a well defined mass is now an empty space that has been taken up by blood, swelling is still very obviously present and overall it's not much different, which is to be expected only two days after surgery. The pictures I did want to show you though are those from the "wand" MRI that I had done the morning of my surgery. They used these images to create 3-D pictures of my head/brain/tumor which actually look pretty cool, so here's two of them.

What I would look like bald. Pretty cool - not sure if it's supposed to look like me or not haha.
And the little discs are what I showed you pictures of before, but this time on me (according to the operative notes I read those little green discs and the machine used with them were crucial to the removal of my tumor, so thanks little green stickies!)

And the inside of my head (and tumor), so crazy. There is a whole series of these so you
can rotate the head around and see it from all angles.

 Thanks for reading!
And please spread brain tumor awareness!

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