Greetings friends and family. Kim and I had a long but good day at MD Anderson today.
It started at 7 am with an MRI- 45 minutes of what seemed like rock concert percussion, synthesizers, and guitar jams. After this was blood work, followed by a consultation with the anesthesia group. Aside from the discomfort of the MRI, the morning was unremarkable.
We had our first meal of the day in “Cafe Anderson”, and then met up with a friend who used to live in Athens and attended Resurrection with us (Tyler Wallace). His family lives outside of Houston, and he works at MDACC.
We then had a consultation with the surgical oncology group, which took a while. There was still some discussion of whether surgery is the best option, but the surgeon strongly believes that it is, so that matter is finally settled. It is crazy to think of what all has to be done on Thursday. I’ll go more into this tomorrow, but suffice to say, in our view this surgery seems very rare, so much so that even our oncologist in Athens told me “there’s no one around here who can do this surgery”. But during our consultation, the doctor, John Skibber, matter-of-factly stated that he had performed the same surgery last Thursday! These folks are the best in the business, so that’s reassuring, obviously.
After the visit with the surgeon, it was down the hall for a consultation with radiation oncology. A radiation oncologist will be on standby in case it is determined that I should receive radiation on an area, like a bone, for which the surgeon is unable to get clear margins (no evidence of cancer). MD Anderson has a single operating room that is equipped with a special radiation machine for direct application to diseased tissue while the patient is opened up during surgery. Again, reassuringly, I was informed that MDACC is one of only five hospitals in the country with this capability. And they do this about 10 times a month. Amazing.
Finally, at 4:30, we had an ostomy marking consultation. The purpose of this meeting is to identify the best location on my belly for the surgeon to install another ostomy bag. It was nice that we knew the man with whom we met, as he marked me last June for the first ostomy. He was very encouraging that living with these bags is pretty common, and I can do most anything with them.
We were exhausted by then. So we had yogurt from the yogurt stand at what seems like a mile walk without ever stepping outside; MD Anderson is seriously big.
I’ll finish this post by telling a story about a woman Kim met this morning while I had my MRI. She is the wife of a man with a brain tumor. They are in their early thirties. I took note of them when they entered the waiting room, and when I got to my prep room to don the hospital garb, I said to myself “Kim and that woman will wind up chatting the whole time.” Sure enough, when I came out when the procedure was over, she told me that family’s story and showed me a book the woman, Lilla, gave her: “The Practice of the Presence of God” by brother Lawrence.
It is from this book that Kim read short letters to me while we waited with high anxiety to get final word from Dr Skibber on whether we’d proceed with surgery. It was a reminder that “resting” with God is not passive; it is active and must be practiced continually to be truly experienced. Given the refrain of needing to “remember the signs”, this was a very encouraging “coincidence.”