Thanks everyone for your prayers. Just wanted to give you an update on our plans.
The MRI taken yesterday of the brain showed what appears to be new tumor growth (since Dec) on the lining of the brain at the rear bottom.(suspected this yesterday from what they could see on the upper spine MRI) This doesn't really change the treatment plan as this will be radiated in the future. This area was not in the surgery area or radiation zone from last summer's treatment. The lumbar (lower) spine MRI showed some tumor growth there as well but they are not as concerned about it because it is less likely to cause paralysis problems and once again the hope is radiation. The CT scan showed no spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, or anywhere outside of the nervous system.
We are driving home now to spend the weekend with the kids and family and will leave with Mom and Dad Sauder after church Sunday to come back up. We have decided to go ahead with the surgery. Monday morning at 6 we are to report to the hospital. The first procedure will be to put a marker in my spine so they can find the incision areas more accurately. Then they will go into the two areas where the tumor is pressing most upon my spinal cord. They will take as much of the tumor out as possible and then patch it with muscle tissue from my leg. The goal of the surgery is to prevent damage to the spinal cord until they can get radiation and chemo going. They expect 3-4 days in the hospital after surgery. Less dizziness than last time, but more pain and risk of damage to nerves and muscle control.
Assuming pathology confirms this to be spread of the meningioma, then radiation would be given that would be less dosage than the first round. They just can't give as much in these areas. It will take 2-3 weeks to heal from surgery before I can begin the radiation. There would also be some chemotherapy, but exact plans on that are not worked out yet.
As for the future, the doctors really don't know what to predict. They have great urgency to get the surgery done and begin radiation before the tumor causes paralysis. They have never seen a meningioma spread to this extent in the spine, so there really is no data behind the success of the treatments. If the tumor does not respond to radiation or chemo, then my time could be as short as months. In the best case medically and with successful treatment it could be a few years. With our great God who can work miracles, it could be that I am healed and able to see my kids grow up.
It is not easy. I cry a lot. Not out of fear, but just as Paul described. I Phil 1:20-24 "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" He had a desire both to be in heaven but also didn't want to leave those he loved behind. I'm committing the future to God, and don't want to demand a miracle. I'm willing to go or stay, whatever he sees best. He knows so much more about the future than I. I have the full confidence in His power to heal and my prayer is that he would heal. If He chooses not to, it will not be because He was unable, but rather He saw better not to.
I'm praying for all of you my church family. My heart hurts to think of all the pain and tears that everyone is shedding. My prayer is that through all of this we may be drawn closer to the Lord first and to each other as well.
Derek & Leann