My Oncology Surgeon Removes Cancer as well as Rings on Your Fingers!

In my previous post I told you that I swallowed a capsule with a camera in it to determine where the tumor was located. When my GI doctor looked at the images that the camera provided, he realized that the camera got stuck and didn’t move any further. Believe it or not, he wanted me to swallow another camera capsule to see what would happen with that one. That didn’t sound like a good idea to me and when I told this to my oncologist she said there was no point in swallowing another one. The second one would also get stuck. She was actually happy the capsule got stuck because it showed right were the growth was. The cancer was in my small intestine again. Now keep in mind cancer in the small intestine is very, very rare. And here I had it a second time. What were the odds of that? My question was: Did a cancer cell escape my first surgery and had now manifested itself again, or is this a brand new occurrence? No one knew the answer to that. The whole process moved along faster this time because now we all knew what we were dealing with.

I decided to have the surgery performed in this hospital instead of going back to the hospital of my first surgery. My oncologist thought for a few moments before deciding who she wanted to perform the surgery. She named the top gastro surgeon in this hospital. I got an appointment to see him rather quickly and I was extremely comfortable with him. It’s hard to explain but he radiated real confidence and he put me at ease. He also agreed that there was no need for me to swallow a second capsule. He told me he would remove the first one during the surgery.

I was scheduled for surgery on Monday, May 14, 2012. The day after Mother’s Day. Since I had to fast a day prior to surgery, my family celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday that year so that I could eat everything being served. I told them they could just go ahead on Sunday without me. I have to tell you that I wasn’t in much of a celebrating mood. They stuck to their guns and said Saturday it would be. Little did we know that would be my mother’s last Mother’s Day. I’m glad my sister, brothers and I were all together for it.

Monday morning I tried to be upbeat and positive. I survived this once before so I sure hoped I could survive it again. While they were prepping me for surgery in pre-op, my surgeon came in to say good morning. He noticed my wedding and engagement rings were still on. He had asked me to take them off before surgery. I had tried for the past week to get those rings off. I couldn’t. My knuckles had swollen over the years and I tried everything to get them off. I tried butter, lotion, warm water, soap, cold water, dish detergent, olive oil and I don’t remember what else. The rings wouldn’t budge. The surgeon’s assistant, a fun and witty woman, told me not to worry. “He’ll get them off in the operating room,” she said. He has a trick to getting them off.”

Hours later, I woke up in the recovery room. I was told surgery went well. I don’t remember much after that because I was already on morphine. I wasn’t feeling any pain. The next morning my surgeon and his assistant came to visit me in my room. He had pictures of my small intestine on his cell phone. He held it in his hands while someone snapped pictures. It was whitish in color, and the way he was holding it, it looked to be in the shape of a gravy boat. Weird…right?  But that’s what it looked like to me. I gazed at one picture after another in awe. He delighted in showing me the pictures. He actually seemed quite pleased with himself. He called in a GI doctor to assist during surgery. It was her job to pass the intestine under a scope as he fed it to her.  He said it had not metastisized. He got it all. He also removed 20 lymph nodes and they were all clear of cancer. That was great news!

My surgeon told me I was one for the medical books and that he’d like to write a paper about me. I happily agreed. His assistant said I’d be famous. After they left my room I was so thankful that I was okay and everything went well. They were keeping me comfortable with morphine so I didn’t have any pain. Except….my finger hurt. My ring finger. For the first time since surgery I looked at it and my rings were gone but there were red scratch marks on it. It kind of looked like rug burn. I asked the nurse where my rings were and she said they were in the bed side table next to me. Apparently my surgeon slipped a string under both rings and yanked them off as soon as I was under the anesthesia.

Until next time…