Sunday, April 22, 2012


by Michael

It's eleven days since Kate's last post about the holding pattern. We were hoping for a holding pattern, but it wasn't to be.

First, though, everything is okay. There is much good news in what's to follow.

Last Thursday morning (April 19), Kate decided it was time to check in to the hospital. She had an MRI on March 22 which showed cancer in her vertebrae and compression of the spinal column (vertebrae pressing against the cord). Following that, she had five zaps of radiation, and the doctors said she should experience increasing relief from pain in her back throughout April.

However, while there was some relief, the pain was not abating, so following doctor's orders we went to Sunnybrook emerg -- in an ambulance commanded by two excellent young women, our EMS team; the most charming part of the day.

Ten hours later, they found a bed for Kate in C2, a cancer ward. Kate told her story and the doctors promised a new MRI. They also x-rayed her abdomen.

The MRI took place Friday morning and by the end of day the results were in:
  • Good news: no new cancer. 
  • Good news: the tumor seen on the March 22 MRI was significantly reduced. It was gone. 
  • Good news: nothing of concern seen in the abdomen.
Next step: figure out what to do to treat the pain, which is caused by the T1 vertebrae getting squished. That's the vertebrae that had the cancer and was zapped by radiation. Essentially, it can't support itself and there is bone-on-bone rubbing in Kate's back, and it's terribly painful.

So this is a back problem, not a cancer problem (though, of course, it's cancer-related).

The options seem to be either surgery to "bolt" the back into a new stable condition, or possibly the "cement" injection discussed previously.

Kate remains admitted to Sunnybrook, where she will stay likely until the options are considered, recommended and one is chosen. She got a "day pass" yesterday and today and spent a number of hours at home, but she's sleeping at Sunnybrook.

On Friday night, the surgeon from neurology visited her and discussed her case generally. He has ordered a new CT-scan, which might not take place until Tuesday. Also, we're expecting the "cement" doctor also to visit and discuss the procedure he might perform.

Dr. Trudeau remains the specialist in charge, and what we expect in the coming days is the doctors will convene, discuss options and make a recommendation.

But, realistically, that might not happen before mid-week.

Kate is okay with that. Other people have more urgent cases. The doctors keep asking if Kate has any pains or numbness in her legs. They are concerned about creeping paralysis. People who have no feelings in their legs are worse off. And bed rest is aiding with the pain somewhat, though dorm living is not anyone's first choice.

The main message we'd like to pass on is, we are okay. This event is not unexpected, and it certainly could have been worse. The cancer in the back has been zapped, now to address the pain.

Yes, there are complicated considerations ahead, but we are optimistic that a better period is ultimately in the future.

The kids know that Kate's in the hospital, and they are dealing with it very well. They are obviously concerned, but they are calm, as are we. We've told them that the doctors are figuring out how to get rid of the pain in Mummy's back. That explanation has the benefit of being true.

Now we await conferencing with the doctors.

I'm sure everyone is eager to hear Kate's perspective on all of the above.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Christine and Jason said...

Glad to hear a bit of good news, if only good news about bad news. Sorry I dropped off the scene for a while.