Friday, October 31, 2008

Surgical consultation; Oct 30

We met with the neuro-surgeon as scheduled on Thursday. As you know, Brian was not very gung ho on the idea of surgery for many reasons. I could recap them, but I am tired of retelling it. Forgive me.
We both fully expected the surgeon to come in and convince Brian surgery was the best option at this point in time. Brian had never met with this neuro-surgeon. In April of 2007, when we discovered the recurrence and knew we needed to take surgical action, Brian had a lengthy telephone conversation with him to discuss surgery. Brian also revealed to this doctor at that point in time that we would most likely be traveling to California for the surgery with a doctor that we had used in the past. He was incredibly supportive and Brian remarked back then how impressed he was at the surgeon's approach and attitude. I researched the surgeon and remarked how impressed I was at his mug. (seriously, go click, Me-ow!)

Where was I? Oh yeah.

Dr. K comes in and tells Brian he is glad to finally meet him. He wastes no time beating around the bush and says, "Well, you know why you are here. You know what is going on. You just have to decide what you want to do about it. Brian, if I remember correctly from our last conversation (note: 18 months ago) the Lord is in control here." What? Be still my beating heart. Did I just hear a doctor, no wait, a SURGEON, say "the LORD?" He didn't say, "your God" or "your faith." No, he said, "THE LORD." I immediately felt peace in his presence.

He went on to discuss and think through out loud exactly all the same scenarios we have played out. Is this tumor? Is this treatment change? (from radiation or chemo?) If it is tumor, then surgery isn't really improving much except debulking something that is growing at an alarming rate and wouldn't be worth the risk. If it is treatment change, then it could do some good to debulk and relieve some pressure. He thinks there is a pretty decent area to enter with fairly little risk to Brian. "Fairly being the key word" in his words. There is always risk with any surgery. As he gets deeper into the enhancement, he gets closer to vital functions for Brian - mainly his speech.

The thing is, the enhancement isn't showing all the normal characteristics of tumor progression. It also isn't showing all the normal characteristics of treatment change. It is showing signs of both. Experience and instinct tell him it is more likely tumor progression. While the Petscan is encouraging, it is difficult to believe.

(In the what-the-heck-is-that and why-are-you-showing-this-to-me categories: This is Brian's brain. The top picture is from the Spring. The bottom picture is from the Fall. You can see the considerable growth of the odd area of enhancement on the right (which is actually flip-flopped from reality: the tumor is on the left just above Brian's ear.) It is now the size of a golf ball. The various colors of enhancement on the bottom are more typical of tumor progression. The more definitive lines around the enhancement are more typical of treatment change. )

Then he said something that made a lot of sense and we hadn't really considered, "If it is treatment change, then theoretically, it shouldn't really change much for the next scan. I think it is very reasonable to watch this for the next scan and make a more informed decision then. If it doesn't change, and you are not having additional problems, we could very well continue to monitor this."

Also, he said, "Brian, at some point in time, you have to say, 'no more surgeries' and put yourself in the Lord's hands and submit to whatever His will may be for your life." And that is exactly what Brian has done. Still, to hear a surgeon say it, was somehow comforting. It was comforting to know God led us here to this surgeon who is a fellow believer.

So, here is where we are: Brian has another oncologist appointment on Monday. We will discuss what chemotherapy we continue with from here. The last thought on this was that if we are considering this may be treatment change, it wouldn't be unreasonable to continue with the same chemotherapy. We will further discuss this on Monday. Brian repeats his MRI on November 17. We will make an appointment on Monday to get those results. No surgery for now.

Here are Brian's and my thoughts: The fact that the enhancement is growing at an alarming rate, is obviously concerning. The negative PetScan is encouraging and directly contradicts normal tumor progression. However, false negative brain Petscans are not uncommon. The fact that the enhancement is following neither the normal characteristics of tumor progression nor treatment change is difficult to decipher. We think it is God's way of saying, "KEEP BELIEVING. No matter what, trust Me. I have a plan for you and will take care of you either way. Keep hoping in Me. If it is tumor and Brian continues to worsen, I have you in My hand. I will be with you the entire way until Brian comes home with Me. If it is not tumor, then your entire hope is in Me. Regardless, enjoy your 'borrowed time,' live each day like it may be your last, and continue living in faith."

So, we will continue doing exactly what we have been doing. I think we are doing it well.



  1. Angie,
    I so prayed that you all would have a clear direction and the Lord certainly gave you all that. Oh how I remember this roller coaster. As David said about his baby "who knows?" We never fully understand what our Lord is up to and there is ALWAYS hope! Hang in there and I and my family will continue to pray for you all! Much love,

  2. I believe with all of me that the doctor being a Christian is NOT a coincidence. How amazing to hear to those words of his to Brian. And I think you guys are handling this better than just "well". You are a HUGE example to me of how to be the wife I vowed to be and how to handle times like this as a Believer. Thank you for keeping us updated as I am guessing blogging isn't always the first thing you want to do during these times. However, know that it keeps you connected to all of us out here that KEEP BELIEVING right along with you.

  3. This surgeon is another miracle to add to your long line of miracles. So now we just need one more, and I believe it is forthcoming.

  4. WOW!!! A Christian surgeon...I thought they needed a "God" complex to be a neurosurgeon. Totally not a coincedence...ALL HIM!!! Both of your attitudes are SO AWESOME... and such a testimony to KEEP BELIEVING...and the power of PEACE and PRAYER!!! We will all keep the faith along with the two of you and the many others that are praying for you during this time...know how HELD you are during this time. WE all love you both SOOOOOO much, and are continuing to hold on the the possibility that GOD is listening to us all!!!
    LOVE and FAITH,

  5. Wow...what a blessing to have met with a believing surgeon! Brian truly is in God's hands...

    Praying for you...

  6. Sounds like you and Brian are being well cared for...and MEOW is right about that doctor. Caring AND a hotty...that's unheard of.

  7. Actually...a type-o...NOT A POSSIBILITY...I KNOW HE IS LISTENING TO US ALL...the possibility is on the chance of a MIRACLE for you guys...but it sounds to me he is granting you both little miracles on a daily basis.

  8. You guys are doing this so well, so incredibly well! That is wonderful to have a doctor who has such faith, it is definetly not as common in the medical world as I would like to think! I will keep praying for you, Brian, and the kids! My love to you and yours!

  9. all I can say is WOW!! What an amazing Doctor. If I ever need a nuerosurgon I am going to travel to see that man!! it is amazing sometimes who the Lord puts into our lives. He sounds like the best man for you tow.

    Oh and you are right if I had to see a nuerosurgeon I wouldn't mind looking at THAT nuerosugeon :)

  10. I am so glad that the Lord has sent you to Dr. K. Just more proof that you are in His hands.

    I am continuing to pray!

  11. Ang and Brian,

    This is good news. I am hopeful that this news allows your family to enjoy one of Brian's favorite holidays.... HAPPY HALLOWEEN

    I can remember back at his 5 year survival party when you guys dressed up as Pebbles and Bam Bam. What a wonderful evening that was by the camp fire singing songs in good ole Illinois.

    Enjoy this evening and hopefully you have good weather for trick or treating.



  12. Trusting and believing, along with you, that ALL is in God's Hands!!

  13. Keeping you all in my prayers. Wonderful news to hear you have been led to a Christian doctor. God is so in control especially when we don't know it and exactly when we need it.

  14. I prayed for God's Wisdom for you, Brian and the surgeon as you met and a clarity beyond a doubt in your decisions for moving forward. I never would have dreamed that this doctor would share your powerful FAITH as well! Amazing! But then, God is! As usual, sounds like you guys are in Good Hands and that God has provided this amazing doctor to help you through this time. Will continue to pray and I continue to be amazed at you and Brian - Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  15. You are doing it well and I am so thankful you are getting what you need from the medical establishment.

  16. How amazing is God's grace. When we least expect it, when we feel alone, He is there. Like the others who have commented above, God has sent this surgeon to you and Brian. I beleive that He is working through him. Who else would heve given this doctor the skill to do what he does, but God. I believe that God brings people in and out of lives purposefully. They arrive when we need them and they move on when the need is gone. They are angels that He provides to us. How amazing it is that He provides you comfort through this doctor at a time most needed.

    It seems that you are both in the best hands avaialble...Gods. We will continue to keep you in our prayers. Have a great holiday weekend. Your friend Mark W.

  17. First off...ahem...that is one HAWT doctor. Wow.
    And you just keep doing what you've been doing. It's been working; it has led you to this doctor. We will KEEP BELIEVING right with you.

  18. I'm so glad your surgeon is the man he is and that y'all have found a golden needle in the haystack.

    Very strange how your Brian's condition is mirroring my own mom's. (Tumor diagnosed and removed from behind and above left ear last Oct. 5.) I'm continuing to believe and pray. Hope your Halloween with the little goblins (if you celebrate) is a great one! Don't forget to get pics.

  19. Praise God for the blessings along the way,
    each blessing,becomes a solid stepping stone on your journey.Making it for a sturdy walk all the way. We Keep believing, stretching our faith, for that golfball size storm to be removed. It has been done before, when the growth was even bigger if I remember it correctly.
    Praise God for the freedom you have given the Lord, by totally turning it over to Him.
    in return a new found peace and freedom is present within you. What a testimony you 4 precious children of God are.
    Love you Marjo

  20. Thank you so much Angie, for keeping us must be difficult to write all of this. Our family continues to pray for all of you. God Bless, E

  21. Angie and Brian:

    I am praying for you diligently through this entire process. I thank the Lord for your continued faith even when the going gets tough. We do serve an AMAZING God and I KNOW that He will see you through everything, no matter what!! Take care. Miss you guys like crazy, but glad for the blog. In the meantime, you can bet that I will KEEP PRAYING AND KEEP BELIEVING!!

    Much love,


  22. OK, first things first...Brian's neurosurgeon is adorable. Seriously, cute.

    Second, thank God he is on the same page as you guys. What a relief (and obvious divine intervention).

    Third, thoughts and prayers from this direction are continuing.

  23. What a blessing to finally meet this surgeon and find out that he is a Christian. You guys are doing all the right things - leaving it in the Lord's hands. We should all take your advice and live each day to the fullest as we are all on "borrowed time" - still thinking of you and praying for you.

  24. After reading the comment above the one I left, I went to check out that photos you posted a link to. Did you see that he has 6 children and that family is #1 priority for him? What a guy to have on your side - someone that makes family his first priority!

  25. I think you are doing it well too!

    I have to say - I broke and cried when I scrolled down to that second x-ray. I saw the mass and it made me so sad and so mad and I'm so sorry that this is happening. You know I don't "really" know you - but in so many ways it feels like I DO KNOW you guys and I don't like to believe that this is "real" for you - really happening to another human being - to a family - to your loved one. I'm so sorry. But ... I believe totally that God puts people in our paths and this doctor - this doctor - has obviously been put in your and Brian's life by God's hand and it is a blessing. I will never stop praying for you, Brian. I will Keep Believing and hope and pray for the best!

    Take care and have a good weekend - Kellan

  26. You have a great blog. i found you some how when i was looking for things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia. I iwish you all the best.

  27. Angie, this surgeon really sounds special. First of all, I was impressed with how personable he was as a surgeon. Most surgeons are not great with people skills. And, like you said, he shares a faith that you and Brian do. That is something! He was methodical and careful and thorough. Best of all...caring.

    Thinking great thoughts!

  28. Have you read the book 90 minutes in Heaven? It was so reassuring...

  29. I KNOW you are doing it well.

    You and Brian are an inspiration Angie.


  30. Seriously your surgeon is NOT an accident!! Glad to hear that you were given such clear news. Seriously, so much better than someone trying to convince you of immediate surgery!

    While my mom and I were talking the other day we discussed some "trials" that she was facing. We then said that God stepped right in and fixed everything so that we did not struggle ever, we would never have a testimony to share. I am loving the story of your testimony!!!!

    hugs, and this Mama is STILL BELIEVING!!!

  31. Angie,

    I got chills reading this. God is definitely leading y'all and the surgeon in this matter.

    God bless you and your hubby. I'll keep y'all in my prayers!!

  32. You are an amazing family. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep believing!

  33. He is cute...and it's no surprise he has six kids!

    What a great experience. I wish there were more doctors like this.

  34. I am thanking God for doctors who believe in the Lord.

  35. Hey There, I came by via Kellan's site and I just wanted to tell you after reading some of your blog that you are obviously a very strong couple with a strong faith. I admire and appreicate your outlook I like the outlook of the Dr., too....and he is very easy on the eyes. :)
    My prayers are with you and your beautiful family!