Well, we are home, safe and sound, and I don’t even have any good stories involving bus tires and medicine to share. His doctor simply checked him out with his duffle bag of narcotics, and home we drove. The dog appears to be completely healthy (well, as healthy as a 15-yr old dog can be) Grandma managed admirably, the kids didn’t pine away in our absence, and life will trudge on now in a normal fashion. We keep reminding ourselves that we’re lucky.
Yes, it stinks that Blaine’s cancer came back, but we’re lucky because pathology shows it is the same kind of cancer as before ….. slow growing and (normally) not too aggressive, so we don’t have to go into panic mode about our next step. The Army Hospital that has been treating him since Day One has been fabulous and we love his doctors there. But they admitted after this surgery that the location of (one of) the new tumors, within a centimeter (I think? Details have become foggy, along with everything else in my brain) of his carotid artery, that treatment now is beyond the scope of what they can offer with the services at their facility. Their recommendation is that Blaine needs a team of specialists (ie, head and neck vascular surgeon, radiation-oncology, etc) and those kind of people aren’t just hanging around the halls of defense-fund-depleted military hospitals.
So, once again, we consider ourselves lucky because Blaine already has a relationship with the doctor in Seattle who did his free-flap procedure last spring. He is one of the best head and neck oncologists in the country and works at a teaching hospital that offers all the services we might need. If they decide surgery is the best way to go, they can do it there. Radiation, chemo, etc., whatever the doctors determine is the best route.
We did talk to his Ft. Gordon doctors about getting a second opinion, and we all decided that Blaine already did his “shopping” for a doctor last year, when he traveled to Emery in Atlanta, and MD Anderson in Houston. And with the red tape that is involved with the insurance, he doesn’t want to take the time to doctor-shop again, when he has a surgeon in Washington that he already knows and trusts.
So, now we begin the process of getting insurance approval to travel and have things taken care of in Seattle (assuming the Seattle doctor agrees to take him …. Which I can’t imagine he wouldn’t ….) It’s already March, and what with the pre-authorizations, and consultations, and all that other rigmarole that goes along with it, we’ve got a June-July-ish timeframe in mind. So, chances are good Blaine and I will get a mini-vacation to the beautiful Seattle area this summer. (See? Do you see how lucky we are?) :)
We appreciate all the kind thoughts and sentiments the past week, and will keep you guys updated as things progress.
We also talked about the fact that although this wasn’t the outcome for which we had hoped, we are so grateful that complications arose in Blaine’s case, and not Kendrie’s. Kendrie’s cancer treatment was textbook, with hardly a complication or variance. Blaine’s treatment has been skewed from day one, with nothing turning out quite like we anticipate, and complications and delays dragging things out forever. I mean, it’s been three YEARS since his original diagnosis, and the reconstruction work isn’t even done yet. Partly that’s our fault, since we shoved his care to the back burner when Kendrie was diagnosed. And partly it’s the “two steps forward, one step back” philosophy that has plagued him from the beginning. Nothing has been easy, nothing has been simple, nothing has been straightforward. Wait, I'm getting away from my lucky theme here.
Anyway, this is getting depressing. My point is that even though this is discouraging, we are still blessed, and we won’t forget it.
So, on to more cheerful things. The kindergarten PTO performance was stellar, to be sure. While I don’t know that Kendrie necessarily has a future as a Radio City Rockette, I can say with absolute certainty that she was adorable as a jelly bean (although don’t you think it looks suspiciously like a lima bean?)
And yes, that is a dress you see her wearing. She wears one every Sunday to church, without complaint, but a few of her friends at school seemed shocked at the reminder that she actually IS a girl.
She didn’t collapse with shyness like I worried she might, and she got to stand next to the love of her life, Nicholas, for the show, so she was perfectly content.
We have Kellen’s end-of-season basketball party this afternoon, and otherwise we are laying low this weekend. Blaine is functioning, but doesn’t feel quite back to normal yet, so we will take things easy for a while. I think he has 30 days convalescent leave, most of which will be spent getting the ball rolling for his Seattle trip. And have no doubt, once he is feeling better, I’ll find some honey-do’s to work in there. :)