Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Couch Potato's Massive Missive: The Biopsy

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Meeting My Oncologist and his Posse

Monday's first appointment was at the BC Cancer Agency's Research Centre in Vancouver. Arriving there was as if I was living someone else's life. I pray several times a day for the tumor to be benign. I even say "benign" over and over again when I doubt or feel pain. So being at a cancer clinic felt just wrong.

My brother Jason came with us to help and what a great help he was. Myrtle slept most of the drive there and all through the first appointment, Jason stayed with her in the car till she awoke and stayed with her for another nap later on - Thanks J! 

The first appointment was mainly paper work ranging from my personal and family's health history to pages of questions about my physical and emotional well being since THE CALL.
Was able to be more focused answering questions in a hospital gown.
After the paperwork we met with a physical therapist who assessed my hips mobility and strength (both very low). After her, my oncologists assistant (who is a doctor) did an assessment similar to the physical therapists. 
Even Patch Adams would be confused.
Later they joined my oncologist who was being shadowed by a resident doctor and a student doctor. All five were friendly, professional and seemed to actually care. I really felt like I was in good and talented hands. What a relief.

My attending oncologist is apparently world renowned for limb salvage surgeries. He informed me that due to the tumor too much of my hip bone has been weakened to reconstruct. He requested that I get more hip X-Rays so he and his team have a better understanding of how to proceed regarding my surgery.

At my follow up appointment on March 28th they will know what the game plan of my recovery will entail; whether the tumor is malignant or benign will of course determine much. Either way it sounds like I should be getting a new hip.

The Biopsy

My second appointment was the biopsy at VGH. I brought my camera and the doctor there said "How odd that you would want a picture" and seemed hesitant about it. I said that this was not a normal Monday for me and figured I might as well document this odd part of my life. Before I knew it the nurse and doctor were discussing the best angle to take a picture. 
Moments before being prepped before the biopsy.
It felt surreal lying there, waiting for another CT Scan. Cloths were draped over me only leaving my head and my left hip uncovered. My hip was cleaned with a pink solution and a cotton swap. 

Laying there I couldn't see anything, the doctor was good at describing what was being done. He explained that he was about to freeze the area, like a dentist does. After seeing the first needle (it was huge) I decided to not look at the rest as each one would be bigger to reach the bone.

After I was frozen the CT Scan was used to locate the tumor and map where the biopsy was to take place. The doctor then got out a scalpel and informed me that I would have an inch scar and that it would also be used later like "X" on a map for my surgery. The incision this day was for the biopsy needle.  

I didn't see biopsy being performed, and though I felt no pain I sure felt the pressure of it. Five core samples were taken from the tumor. Each time felt like the thump of a bass speaker was pounding in my hip.

I asked to see the tumor samples and they were in a small bottle immersed in a clear solution. Each one was about an inch in length and thinner the dry spaghetti. They were white with red dots through out it. 

After the biopsy my third and final appointment was back to the BC Cancer Agency for more hip X-Rays.  

Couch Potato

Due to my hip bone being so weak my oncologist said to keep off it altogether. Considering how uncomfortable/painful it was for me to travel here from Victoria the best conclusion was to stay at Jason and Colleen's till the next appointment. 

Walking and sitting hurt, it's not super painful, more super uncomfortable, but before too long it becomes painful. Moving little and lying down doing nothing are the doctors orders, which is good because it's all I can do. Mentally it's tough being so unproductive and unable to help or just do what I want.

It occurred to me today that I need to step back from a few things: being a Cub Scout leader, teaching Sunday school, gardening, going grocery shopping, taking Myrtle to her swimming lessons, etc.  

Myrtle on my lap doesn't really work well. I can't carry her, change her or do much really other than talk and interact with her until she crawls away. I'm so happy she has her Uncle Jason, Aunt Colleen cousins and their dog and cat to share her curiosities beyond the couch with.
Uncle Jason and Myrtle reading.
It's hard for me to accept my current limitations, but it's more emotionally wearing explaining this to others and even more difficult asking for help. But, if I were to get a fracture I'd be more of a burden and in much more pain.

Between now and March 28th I'll just hurry up and wait, catch up on some reading, thinking and emails. 

Even though the biopsy has been done, I still pray for it to be benign and that I will have a swift recovery and if you actually read this far why not join me?  

All I want is to have a happy and healthy family to provide for and enjoy friendships along the way.


  1. Praying for you Ruban. Myrtle is a very lucky little lady. If she even has an ounce of your optimism she will be very fortunate.
    Thinking of You.

  2. You have such a great sense of humour! You're in our prayers.

  3. Biopsy's are so much fun! I'll have to ask for an extra glove next time I'm at the Cancer agency ;-) Good luck my friend!

  4. Hoping and praying for you. Keep it up.

  5. Ok First of all Buds, im so proud of you and the way your dealing with this. I didnt know the limitations you have on you Buds. And I Get very emotional when I think how it limits you and Myrtle. I was truly blessed I had full and I think happy times with my kids. Im still trying that Praying thing Buddy Im not sure Thier being heard right now but Maybe When you get the results they will have been heard. Hugs to you and the family buddy.. And oh ya NICE KNEES!! lol Id love to try the Glove stunt at work , Might freek out the passengers though LMAO. Love always my boy. Uncle Darcy

    you never know... could be the same thing.... :)

  7. Its funny reading this because while you are experiencing the same things I did, it is interesting to see the experience through the eyes of an adult.

    When I was a kid, it was all so foreign to me that I just sort of went with the flow. I didn't really understand what was happening and was just glad that my Dad was along for the ride.

    For me it all happened really quickly. I went to the doc one week, had the CT scan the next, and then a biopsy the week after that. Three weeks later I was given the option to have leg reconstruction surgery (which would have meant having my knee removed and having a straight leg for the rest of my life), having a procedure where they re-attach your ankle and foot as a makeshift knee (I KID YOU NOT) or having a straight leg amputation. Believe it or not, the decision was left to me as a 12 year old kid. I chose the amputation. It gave me the best chance of having a normal life with the lowest chance of complications. With one leg I could still hike, canoe, downhill ski, ride my bike, swim, rock climb, etc. With the other two options, I would be on a cane for the rest of my life. Getting rid of the leg completely (through the knee amputation) was also the best chance of the cancer not recurring. I am not sure how modern leg salvage works, but I'd ask lots of questions as well. Prosthetics are also a viable option as prosthetic technology is just so good now. I know it is all hard to take right now, but you will do great.

    To be completely honest with you, while the chemo was unbelievably difficult to handle, the re-habilitation and learning how to use the fake leg was definitely the biggest challenge (and continues to be). Looking back, the cancer treatment seemed like such a small deal (6 months of chemo treatments once every 3 weeks). After that it was the learning how to "completely live my life differently" from that day on that proved to be the biggest challenge. I am not sure if that is comforting or not, but the chemo will be over before you know it if it turns out to be malignant and you need chemo.

    Anyway, sorry if anything I have said seems too blunt. I assume that since you are blogging about it that you might find my thoughts helpful and when I was going through it I always appreciated the blunt honesty without too much emotion since there seems to always be enough emotion to go around. All the best as you wait for the results. Remember that 3/4 of the battle is in your head. Never give up. This is your battle. Don't let any of this beat you. Kick its ass.

  8. Hey Ruban hang in there. We are praying for you and hoping everything amounts to as little as possible in the end. Love you cuz.

  9. Still praying for you and your family. Stay strong.