10/9/06 New Information/ Ambiguous Plans

Family and Friends,

Before sharing the latest update I need to share my own personal Top 10 Greatest Things About Going Hairless:

10. Gen doesn't pluck my eyebrows in my sleep any more.
9. My granddaughters don't ask why Grandpa Dann has hair in his nose any more.
8. Grooming time is cut waaaaay down.
7. No more wondering what it will look like one day...
6. Righteous salute of the brotherhood of bald men!
5. Easier to find in a crowd.
4. Great conversation starter.
3. Built-in, highly sensitive weather gauge.
2. Dandruff? What dandruff?
1. Endless tattoo possibilities.... See below for a sample!

Now for the latest news: We met with Dr. Ross, my oncologist, today. First, we found out that the location of the lymph node where the tumor had spread reclassifies my cancer as Stage III. She pointed out that the best part of this is that my tumor was so small, and it took 2 CT scans to even determine that it is Stage III, that we have caught the cancer at the earliest possible part of Stage III. In most cases it is easier to determine the stage because the cancer is more advanced.
Next, she said that the tumor shrunk by more than HALF, not the third that we had thought. (It pays to talk to an oncologist rather than a surgeon about these things!) She showed us the tumor on the CT scan after it shrunk, and YES, IT LOOKED LIKE A PRUNE!!!!! She laughed along with us when we told her all the people that were thinking prunes for me. Of course, she likes to think it was the chemo that did the trick. She is thrilled by how well the tumor responded to the chemo. This bodes extremely well for what impact chemo will have on stray cells.
Dr. Ross recommends that before the tumor is removed, I have a "sentinel lymph node biopsy". This would involve inserting a small tube through the front of my chest while I am under a general anesthetic, removing all the lymph nodes that can be reached this way, and doing a biopsy on them. It would take 1-2 days to get the biopsy results. If any of the lymph nodes show living cancer, surgery would be postponed until I have 2 more rounds of chemo. (I have had 2 so far.) If not, we proceed with the surgery. In any case, I would have 2 more rounds of chemo after the surgery. I handled the first 2 rounds relatively easily, so Gen and I are 100% behind anything that improves my odds.
All this means that we don't know if the biopsy will be this week or next. If it is next week, that may or may not delay my surgery for 2 weeks, since my surgeon will be on vacation. Once the oncologist and surgeon have a chance to talk we will know more, and will let you know.
Meanwhile, I consider myself to be in training for surgery. In addition to some form of exercise (weights, yoga, golf, walking) 7 days a week, I have added daily swimming. Being goal-oriented and focused on health rather than sickness, and having your support, are going to get me through this.
We will let you know as soon as the plan is a little clearer. For now, it seems like the more we learn, the less we know for certain. It's a bit like life.
Dann and Genevieve