Over 20 years ago while doing some basic training to pass his APFT, My husband, Patrick, was experiencing great pain in his knee. A doctors appointment, an x-ray, and physical therapy did not initially determine the tumor growing into or out of his femur. In May of 1992 the pain was unbearable and walking was almost impossible so he decided to see an orthopedist. It was determined there was a tumor in his femur and it needed to come out. The initial surgery consisted of removing the tumor and packing in the space with bone graft from his hip. Two weeks into recovery, we received the results of the biopsy which came back positive for cancer. Surgery number two took some research into options but we settled on a relatively new procedure using a cadaver bone to replace a portion of his femur. Everything that had been touched/disturbed by surgery number one had to come out. Approximately 50% of his femur was removed, a cadaver bone replace it, and a steel rod supported it. The cadaver bone was never accepted by his body. Two rods were replaced before it was discovered that the cadaver bone was being chipped away, little by little. Again some research. This time Johns Hopkins provided an answer with another new idea, an internal prosthesis. Surgery number 4 removed the cadaver bone and replaced it with an internal prosthesis made of titanium (?). I will never forget his first walk, the expression on his face, and the statement that he had never felt better and walked without pain. Physical therapy taught him how to walk without a limp, something he hadn't done in years. During all of this, Audrey was born, Emma started elementary school, he retired from the Baltimore County Police Department, worked all kinds of odd jobs, collected unemployment, went back to school, I went back to work full time, but the break came when he became AGR with the Maryland Army National Guard. He went back to work full time with a mission, a purpose and something he trained for and was qualified. This was a good thing. I went back to staying home, teaching fitness, doing whatever needed to be done. But this journey was not over. In 2006 a tumor was found in his upper left lung. JHH routinely checked his leg and lung (the places most likely for a it to metastasize). It was cancerous and was removed (surgery number six). A year later, another occurred, it was cancerous and removed (surgery number seven).Through all of this no chemotherapy or radiation was prescribed. A few years go by and walking has become difficult and painful. The doctors at JHH told him to hold off as long as possible before they made any adjustments. By the time he can hold out no longer, he is under the care of a new doctor who is, like the others were before, on the cutting edge of medicine. He can make the prosthesis longer without putting a whole new one in. "We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability." That was surgery number eight in 2010.
This is all just information. From now on this will be the place for those who care, for those we love, for our friends and family, to receive information and updates on our lives, Patrick's health, because here we go again.
Just a couple months ago Patrick was experiencing some unusual pain in his leg. By now he and pain have come to terms with each other. He is not a complainer so when he does, it's serious. He thought the pain was some sort of overcompensation for his walk. Physical therapy did not do a whole lot this last time around, and though not a quitter, he quit. Patrick consulted with his long time doctor at JHH about this pain and he was told to come in right away. The did a CT scan with contrast and determined that the cancer is back. A biopsy was taken the following week and confirmed that diagnosis. This time though, his Orthopedic Oncologist recommended a consultation with the Medical Oncologist in the sarcoma program at Hopkins. This consultation happened just a few days ago. It has been determined that this is a new sarcoma of the soft tissue. The treatment set before him consists of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and more chemotherapy. The surgeons are waiting to see what the chemo and radiation do before making a decision as the whether than can just excise the area of the sarcoma or whether amputation is necessary.
I know all of this information sounds overwhelming and it has been and is, at times for us. Right now we are just holding steady, homeostasis. We are optimistic as he has been kicking this disease for 20 years. He's just got to kick it again. The doctors are optimistic. One day, talking to the girls, I told them that at times this is not going to be pretty but (don't read if you are offended by the F-Bomb) your Dad is one Bad Ass Mother Fucker. He is a strong man, he is a courageous man and he is at peace with what needs to happen.
So it begins next week with a Marathon Day at Johns Hopkins Hospital on January 17 with all the preliminary tests, blood work, consultation with the Radiation doctor, etc.
On January 19, Patrick and his Dad go to Detroit to go to the Auto Show. It's been in the works for a while. They have plans to go to the Henry Ford Museum and to see an F-150 come off the assembly line. It will be a good trip. The only thing I'm worried about is them driving a new truck off the line home! While they are gone I have a long list: a photo taking field trip with a new friend, a trip to Aunties, mega house cleaning, setting up meals, and packing a regular travelling bag for I'll be living with one of the girls several days a month while Pat has continuous chemo.
Li'l Sis challenged me to create something from all of this, to capture the beauty of all that happens in life, through photos and writing. I have the image from the film Pieces of April where the son is capturing his Mother's journey through breast cancer and it is full of wonder, truth, raw beauty, sorrow and joy. We write this and share this because we know we have an amazing support system. Peace to all of you in your journey whatever it may be.
We will do this one day at a time and focus on the now.
Dana and Pat