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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Patience is a Virtue - *wink* *wink*

1 week after surgery selfie
The good news is, the surgery went well and I'm recovering. The goal of the surgery was to remove a cancerous lymph node from my mediastinum - between my right bronchus and my heart. The surgeons successfully removed the 2 cm mass and a second smaller mass was discovered and removed from my diaphragm. The cancerous cells were then handed off to a private company called,  Champions Oncology, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins, to be grafted into mice, and studied in order to develop a treatment for me. That's VERY good news to begin with. It will take about 6-8 weeks to know whether the tumors are growing successfully in the mice and a total of 14-16 weeks until we know more about the treatment plan and schedule. This surgery was NOT the treatment in any way. There are at least 2 or 3 tumors, that we know of, in my liver, chest, and abdomen. Surgery is not the treatment, it's (hopefully) the key to beginning my treatment.

The experience was overall a very positive one. The care I receive at Shaare Zedek Medical Center continues to be excellent. Every member of the staff; surgeons, doctors and nurses, technicians, volunteers, and everyone in between showed care, professionalism, and kindness. A thoracotomy is a pretty big procedure. My right lung needed to be partially collapsed for the surgery. The incision is along my 6th rib. Before being put to sleep, I had a high epidural inserted for pain control after the surgery. When I awoke, I had a lot of tubes and wires to get tangled up in including a chest tube. The first two days after surgery felt surreal. Now that I'm back home and slowly coming off of painkillers, I can really reflect on how many fairly large things I should never take for granted again... like being able to breathe or roll over unassisted.

One of the first thing I noticed, when I woke up from the operation, was my right eye. It didn't feel right. With each day that passed, it became annoyingly apparent that the "eye thing" wasn't going away. There are many many possibilities for complications during thoracic surgery. Unfortunately nerve damage is one of them. I don't know if this is permanent but it might be. The lower right half of my face was already numb from a surgery I had in 2011. I didn't know that  Horner's Syndrome was a possible complication but it is and it's done. My right eyelid droops, the right pupil is constricted, and supposedly the right side of my face no longer has the ability to sweat. With all this cancer stuff going on, you'd think a little droopiness of the eye would be silliness but we are all taking it very seriously. Personally, it's all I think about every waking second because it's very bothersome. I'm almost 100% sure that I would have done it, no matter what, in spite of  this highly irritating yet non-threatening complication. If we come up with a successful treatment plan- THIS was my best option and I suppose Horner's Syndrome is a small price to pay.

The bad news is, patience is a virtue that we don't always have the time for.... *sigh* One breath at time.


  1. Well Erika, patience may not be your strong suit but I am so amazed at your ability to speak with such clarity and poise. You have a special way of broadcasting to all of us in a way that reveals your concerns honestly and yet encourage us all to be comforted by your love of so much around you. I have learned much from you my Niece about attitude, gratitude, faith and wisdom. I always remind you in our communications that I love you and each time I do, I hope that you are able to fully grasp how much I do. Maybe it will help with such a darm stubborn Dear Niece to say it twice. I LOVE YOU ERIKA .

  2. One second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time dear Erika. I pray for you from across the globe my friend......I think about you everyday.

  3. Thinking about you and yours ♡ thinking and knowing how brave you are....Prayers for you ♡♡♡

  4. I had no idea of any of this until I saw a post on the list about a brachos party for you. Eriika, I do not know you well, but I know you well enough to know you love life, you appreciate all the "little" gifts from Gd , now even more so, and I know you have a family that is behind you pushing you forward even when it may hard for you to take baby steps. From the minute I met you your desire to celebrate life was obvious. Hashem notices all that ! I understand why the eye thing bothers you, its right there, an obvious representation almost of what is going on inside you, but I pray it will be the ONLY remnant of everything else, that the doctors will be the right "shlichim" to rid your body of all the cancer , and that you will be able to dance and smile, and even sweat on the right side of your face ! I assure you, please Gd , when this is over, I will help you make the biggest pizza and Ben N Jerrys seudat hodaya Bet Shemesh has ever seen !! NO CHARGE ! Our tefillos are with you for a quick and complete refuah~ ~ Leeba