We got in to see Dr. Force yesterday and received a ton of information in a short amount of time. So, in the words of Inigo Montoya…
“Let me ‘splain. [pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”
The surgery to remove the remaining tumor is scheduled for April 16th. Since all the lymph nodes are negative for cancer and the tumor has shrunk, Dr. Force is going to operate by way of VATS (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery). This means recovery time will be much less, hopefully only 3 or 4 days in the hospital. Force is going in intending to remove the right upper lobe (lobectomy) and that should take care of any cancer I have. I suppose technically I’ll be cancer free*.
There is a chance, Force called it maybe 20%, that removing the tumor through the VATS technique won’t work. Apparently when people respond well to chemo (like I did) there is a lot of scar tissue around the tumor. This scar tissue sometimes makes it too difficult to remove through the tools and incisions used in VATS (I’m not entirely sure why… just trust us on this). So, if the scar tissue causes an issue then they have to make a larger incision and handle it that way. The long term outcome is the same, so no worries there, but the recovery time doubles to maybe 5 - 7 days in the hospital.
Force had brought up in the past the idea that maybe the whole lung may have to come out so, of course, we asked about that. It seems like the odds of that happening have dropped to less than 2% or so.
Other fun facts:
Pictured: The Force showing me dead cancer around the remaining living cancer on my latest PET scan.
*”technically” as in not detectable cancer. They won’t declare me cancer free till sometime down the road. This is also before any potential radiation that will help clear up any cancer that may not be detectable.