Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mayo Followup

We met yesterday with the doctors at Mayo.  There is really no additional news to report, but in general their attitude is a little more subdued I would say.  They are pleased with my progress in recovery overall.  They see nothing on the scans at this point that is a problem.  There is an area on the scan where everyone is unsure whether it is tumor that was missed or scar tissue or exactly what.  The one thing that every single doctor has said is that with meningioma, there is no way to know a tumor is growing other than to see an area increasing in size from scan to scan.  At this point nothing is different in size than the June pre-radiation scan.  I suspect the overall reason they are more subdued in attitude is that the typical behavior of grade 3 meningiomas is not good. They have a respect for them and how serious they are.  Dr Driscoll said he has seen it before where by the first post-surgery scan the tumor has exploded and grown back enormously.

They would like me to come back in 4 months and have the next MRI done there at Mayo.  They want to tweak a little bit the way it is run to suppress the coloring of the fat packing put in during surgery.  The other thing we realized is that the surgeons are really the best ones to read the MRI, not the radiologists.  The reason is that the surgeons know what was in those areas during surgery and have pictures from surgery they can compare to.

So overall we are thankful for the progress so far.  And it is good to be reminded that we still need to trust God for each day rather than ourselves.  Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support through this year.  We appreciate it very much.

Derek & Leann, Lexi, Wesley, & Whitley

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We met Friday with Dr McDonald at the Proton center for my first follow up exam.  He his happy with everything at this point.  We were a bit worried the last few days after we read the Peoria radiologist’s written report of the MRI I had taken here on Monday.  He noted “probable residual meningioma” which had us a little scared.  Dr McDonald had the following explanation.  First, whether or not the area of concern is tumor or not is not easily discernable.  It is an area in the MRI which is slightly lighter in color, which could be caused by the radiation itself.  This area was radiated during my treatments, so it is not tumor that was missed.  Meningioma tumors are different than many other types of tumors, in that they do not shrink or disappear during treatment.  If this area was tumor, it would still show up on the MRI even if it is now “dead”.  The only diagnostic with meningiomas is by comparing their relative size to see whether the tumor is growing or not.  The Peoria radiologist did not have the pre-treatment MRI taken in Indy to compare with.  When comparing the current MRI with the pre-treatment MRI (late June), this area looks the same.  Dr McDonald has a weekly review of his cases with the radiologist in Indianapolis who would have done my June MRI and he is going to review this further with him next week.  At this point Dr McDonald feels really happy with my progress and is not concerned.  He said the next MRI from his standpoint could be done in 6 months, which is good news to us.  Previously they had said every 3 or 4 months for a year, so we take this as a good sign.
There is a little area at the very back of my head where my hair has started growing back.  He said this is normal that some of it will come back but there will still be a big area around and closest to my ear where it will never come back.  This normally happens 3 months after treatments stop, and mine started about 2 months after treatment.
Mom & Dad Sauder went along with us, so we had a really nice time catching up with them.  It turned out there was so little snow that the roads were not an issue at all.  The kids stayed with Mom & Dad Stoller and had a great time there.  Next Tuesday Mom  & Leann & I are headed to Mayo’s for Wednesday morning appointments with the surgeons and neuro-oncologist there.  We are thankful for the good report so far and prayerful that the good news will continue next week.  Thanks everyone for your prayers for us this past week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December MRI and doctor visits

Greetings all,

Derek had his MRI yesterday, the first since July.  We will get the official report from our radiation Dr. McDonald this Friday the 9th.  Then, we plan to meet the Mayo surgeons Dr. Link and Dr. Driscoll and oncologist Dr. Hammock on Dec 14 to follow up with them.  We are praying for a clear report so our lives may go on uninterrupted from this check, yet we know God's Grace is available for whatever we may face.  We thank you for praying for us and keeping us in your thoughts this week and next.

Most of Derek's days he feels about 95% at what he was a year ago before brain cancer symptoms.  However, when he has a more physical day like moving furniture, planting trees, or things like that, he feels at about 40% of what he used to be able to do.  This is frustrating to him, and we will ask the doctors if this is to be expected or if we can change something to help it.

Other than that, our lives have returned to a happy normal enjoying our kids, our home, our church, our friends and family, our work, and each other.  With Christmas around the corner, we wish you all the blessings of knowing our Lord and Saviour who was born in the manger, lived sinless on this earth, and sacrificed His life for our redemption from sin.  To be with Him forever is our ultimate goal.

With Love,
Derek & Leann
Lexi, Wesley, & Whitley