First things first. Surgery is a definite. Everyone agrees.
But what kind? Turns out there are choices. Who knew?
A. Old-fashioned craniotomy. A huge-ass incision (5-6 inches) across the front part of the top of my head after shaving my hair. Removing parts of my skull, including my left eyebrow bone, to expose the brain and cut the tumor out. Risk of infection. Risk of injury to the speech areas of my brain. Several days in hospital. Neurosurgeon has done like a thousand of these and it’s a proven method. Could have it done ASAP.
B. Laser “surgery”. They insert a small blunt probe and burn the tumor. My body takes care of the tumor debris, because with this option the tumor is not removed but burned. Risk of swelling in brain, so I’d have to accept at least one dose of corticosteroids which I’ve avoided because it suppresses the immune system. A day or two in the hospital. Tiny incision, and I get to keep my hair. I would do radiation right after, both on the biggish tumor site and the other two tumors in there. It’s a very new method. Neurosurgeon has done like 20 of these, but it’s the wave of the future. Would have to wait 3-4 weeks for this option, and if the tumor grows much we run the risk of having to switch to open surgery at the last minute.
C. Endoscopic endonasal surgery. Going in to the brain through the nose. Would require a nasal surgeon as well, to close the hole in my nasal passages. Would also require draining fluid from the base of my spine, since there’s a big risk of cerebrospinal fluid leak. Requires 5-7 days in hospital. This option doesn’t seem feasible.
We liked this doctor. He explained his approach (conservative) while seeming accepting and accommodating of our wishes. Very calm and chill guy. Confident but not cocky. I felt trust for him.
Our homework is to decide which option. Leaning heavily toward B, the laser probe. Kind of a no-brainer (lol). There are other considerations I didn’t yet mention that would adversely affect the vaccine possibility, but I don’t think it’s enough to make me opt for the more invasive surgery.
All the doctors we’ve met with have been kind and thorough. I’m impressed. Today we waited (back in the little exam room) for about an hour and a half to see the neurosurgeon, but he still spent almost an hour with us and answered every question. This kind of thing makes a big difference.
So here’s a funny thing. Ever since I knew surgery was on the table I’ve been freaked out by the thought of having half my hair shaved off. I have tumors in my brain that could kill me, and I’m worried about my hair! Anyway, I decided that I would shave it all off and start fresh. Why not, right? Embrace the bald! I even researched “cancer hat” on Amazon to find something badass to cover my cold head with.
And now it looks like I won’t need a cancer hat.
And I’m a little disappointed.
I could still shave my head. I still might. What the hell.
Oh! More good news. Neurosurgeon said the biggish tumor is not as close to my optic nerve as we thought after talking to the radiation oncologist last week. A whole centimeter away, which for a brain surgeon is like a mile. So the risk of blindness is very small.
This is all looking very good. Things seem to be coming together, at least from my perspective.
Next step for me, after we decide for sure on which surgery option and get all that scheduled, is to Do All The Things (probably adding More Things) that give me the best chance of biggish tumor not getting any bigger.
Timetable of events goes like this:
3. Clinical drug trial thing.
4. Vaccine study, if I don’t choose laser probe surgery.
5. Feeling better (eventually).
Right? Yay? I think this is a yay.
Much love, as always.