We had an appointment with Vanderbilt Sarcoma clinic scheduled for today, and yesterday was my 29th birthday, again, so we decided since it was going to be kid free to make it a Birthday/Date Weekend!
We headed down yesterday, checked in to our hotel, got some dinner, walked downtown Nashville and had a couple of drinks together. And just talked, and held hands without all of the hustle and bustle of getting kids ready and together. We didn't have to say no, sit down, get over her, don't touch that, ONCE! We all know how much we cherish our kids, but this time was SO refreshing for us. We didn't have to share our bed, we took our time getting ready and were on our own time clock, not working around naps or anything! Although it was short, and meant for business/second opinion, we so needed it. For us. All that we have been through over the past few months. I am very thankful we were able to have that time together.
The next morning we met the Vanderbilt Oncologist, who specializes in sarcomas, and long story short, she agreed with everything our doctors here at home were doing. We love our Oncologist and orthopedic oncologist here, but being that sarcoma is such a rare adult cancer, we just wanted to verify, for ourselves, that we were in the right place and getting the right care. It was a very comforting confirmation!!
We, or, Dave, had three doctor appointments today. A hand and arm specialist/surgeon, the orthopedic oncologist and the oncologist. We set out to determine the next step/plan of action.
First, Dr. Gupta, the hand/arm doc. Up until this point, we were under the impression that amputation was still a possibility. Although we have had great response to the chemo, and the tumor has shrunk significantly, we didn't want to get our hopes up of keeping his arm, but we (mostly me) felt pretty optimistic that he would possibly get to keep it!
Dr. Gupta presented us with a couple of options. The one fact that has remained unchanged the whole time, is that the majority of the radius (the bone running from the thumb side of your hand to your elbow) would have to be removed. Even though the cancer is dead, we don't want to leave any cancer cells behind, dead or alive. So, he said that 1. he could go in and fuse his radius to his ulna (the other forearm bone) and then fuse that to his wrist bones. This would essentially keep his hand in one position, permanently, making him very limited in what he could do. Or, 2. He could remove a section (the size of the missing radius) of the fibula (the smaller bone in the shin, not the big one you can feel) and replace in the forearm. That would also include some of the tissue, muscle, possible artery and nerve, and skin from the calf. He would then take a skin graft from the thigh to replace what he took from the calf. He told us that he has done many of these surgeries and that this would give him the best possibility of getting back to as near normal as before cancer.
My heart sank as we sat in that little room discussing these options. Of course, I never want to see my husband in pain, but I also know that he longs to be back to (or as close as we can get) normal. Back to working, back to lifting, like he used to. I hate seeing him limited.
We walked out of that office, me feeling defeated, him feeling excited to get to keep his arm. Obviously, I am thankful for NO amputation, also. It is just A LOT take in.
We next went to Dr. Price, the ortho oncologist, that would be taking all of the bad out. He confirmed what he thought was Dave's best option for getting back to work/normal activity. He told Dave that he would always be a bit weaker in the hand/arm and may never have full function again, but his goal was to get him as close to normal as he could. He was optimistic that he would be able to return to work, with only minor modifications.
We left there feeling a lot more confident with the decision to go that route. Dave and I talked and weighed each surgery pros and cons. After discussion, we/he decided to go big or go home. Dave wants the chance of normalcy again, and I don't have a right to tell him otherwise. He says he is not afraid of any surgery or pain. Again, in true Dave fashion, he is so strong and such a warrior. I could only wish to be like him.
The surgery will take place next Wednesday, September 3, and will be approximately 10-12 hours in duration. We will arrive at Brownsboro hospital at 530 am, and he will be admitted for 2-3 days, possibly 1 week, depending on how he does. I will be a nervous nelly the whole time, but I know he will do great. He is young, healthy and strong. My own personal super hero :)
The last appointment of the day was with Dr. Williams. He went over the PET scan with us and the radiologist report stated only "minimal residual tumor" was present. What was left was not active and it is essentially gone. He also told us that he would probably only have to undergo 1-2 more rounds of chemo (depending on the margins they get during surgery) and then he will go through about 6 weeks of radiation.
We are praising God for all of the good news today!!! Oh how He loves us!
Sweet friends, could you be praying for Dave's safety during surgery? Please pray for all of the doctors, surgeons, nurses and everyone else who will have their hands on him during his surgery. Pray they are able to remove all of the cancer cells, dead or alive, with clear margins, and only minimal amount of tissue removed. Pray for Dave's speedy recovery and minimal pain.
Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers thus far. He is hearing them and He is answering.
"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Matthew 18:19-20
And if I could be so selfish and ask for a prayer for me? Pray for my peace in knowing that my sweet husband is in His hands and He has it all under control. Pray for my peace and mind in a certain situation I am dealing with, that I could release my anger and forgive.
Again, we couldn't do it without all of you gathering around us and encouraging us. You will never know the gratitude in our hearts.
Also, one last thing. We found out today that Dave does NOT have synovial sarcoma. He has an undifferentiated sarcoma. The first pathologist said synovial, but the pathologist that specializes in sarcomas said undifferentiated. It could have affected treatment, but we had such a positive response, we aren't going to fret it. God's got this ;)
Dave and I finally got back around to joining another gym, now that he is feeling pretty good and has a decent break from chemo. We decided to join the LAC because it doesn’t have a contract, and with surgery coming up, we needed that flexibility. I’m gonna jump around for a minute. It will tie in, promise.
Dave had his PET scan yesterday. We figured we would get the results today, but weren’t for sure. When I called the office, they just made us an appointment for NEXT Monday to view and discuss the results and to get the next plan of action. NEXT MONDAY?? That is going to be an agonizing week. So, I did what any control freak would do, text the doctor! HA! Yes, I’m probably the world’s worst patient. Look, don’t give me your number if you don’t intend for me to use it ;)
My text to Dr. Williams: “Hoping for great PET scan results from yesterday. Nervous nelly here.” Second text: “Lauren Huff, by the way ;)”
I put my phone up and left it in the car, headed into the gym, fully intending on NOT getting a response.
Dave and I had a great workout, just easing back into it, since it’s been since about January since we’ve last been. It was so awesome, in fact, that I caught a glimpse from the past. Dave always makes this certain face, teeth gritted together, eyes squinched, when he works out. He has done it for as long as I’ve known him. And we’ve been in and out of the gym since we were 15. However, seeing that face today? Made me well up with happiness and sadness. Happiness to see him back in his happy place, his zone. Happy to see him doing what he has always loved. But sadness for what has been altered. Sad because of what this disease has taken from him. Sadness that he may never be able to lift the way he used to again.
Cancer is a roller coaster ride. You can be high one minute, and so low you feel you will never get out, the next minute.
We finished up our first workout and headed to the car, head held high, that we are getting somewhat back to normal, for now, at least.
We got the kids in the car and before we pulled out, I got my phone out to check it. 2 new messages. One of those was from Dr. Williams. Insert heart racing.
The text from Dr. Williams read: “They are spectacular. Near full resolution of tumor.” Did you read that???!! Yes, his cancer is almost GONE!!!! I’m crying tears of joy!!!
Y’all?! Our God is faithful!!! PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!! Despite myself, my questioning, my anger, He is STILL loving and faithful. I never once lost faith, matter of fact, I’ve prayed more, bargained more than I ever have, but I was still so upset. But He can handle it. He is my loving Father. We are so, so over joyed right now!!! And my go-to friends? Mindy, Aubrey and Tara? I love you girls more than you know. They always pray for us and with us and know what to say anytime I need a word. I am so thankful for these Godly ladies in my life.
Our amazing friends put together a “benefit” for our family to help us with any costs/medical bills we have. The amount of people and the money fundraised for my family was more than heartwarming. I was moved to tears to see everyone who participated, helped in some way or gave over and beyond the donation amount. The amount of comfort, support and compassion I felt was unreal. We are beyond blessed to have our family and our friends (who we consider family) in our lives. I can not even begin to describe how thankful and appreciative we are for each and everyone of you. You are all a blessing to us. And to Morgan and Bill, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, is not even enough. I can never express to you the love we felt. So much selfless time and energy was put into this, and we are eternally grateful. We love you so much.
After the benefit, we headed to the fair with Aunt Terri, Uncle Charlie, Nana and Papaw, the girls and Jackson! We all had a blast!
Mouth full of turkey leg; German roasted pecans!
Baby got an ice cream all for herself!! Maybe mommy helped, just a little :)
Jackson getting a little love from Mia, and his fill of ice cream!!
My phone went dead before I could take any pictures of my big girl riding all.the.rides. Everything she was tall enough for, she rode!! That girl is SO FULL OF LIFE. Love my little dare devil ;)
What an amazing day. Feeling very blessed and special!! Thank you Lord!!
As our vacation comes to a close, I can’t help but do some mourning. I’m sad to go back to reality. The cancer reality. The chemo and the surgery and all the worry and nonsense that comes with this stupid disease. For one week, I was able to mostly relax and not think about what we are fighting. I was able to enjoy my husband, feeling mostly back to normal. I got to see him enjoy himself and it felt as if nothing was wrong. There is also something about the beach that is so soothing. I can sit out there and watch the waves crash for hours. Something about the vastness of the ocean makes me just sit in awe of our God. How tiny we are and how BIG HE is. And how He could love and care about each and every one of His children, my mind can’t even fathom it. I don’t ever want to leave.
We started this morning by picking some shells to fill up a souvenir container and with some last pictures by the beach…
Some last hours at the pool…
It doesn’t get much better than this…
We went to dinner and one final stop at Alvin’s Island, and then we decided to go ahead and drive home tonight, because we were going to leave super early anyway. But, before we could go, I had this great idea in mind. I had bought some Chinese Lanterns so that each of us could make a wish and let them go on the beach. Sounds awesome and Pinterest-y enough, right?
Wrong. First of all, it was windy. Second of all, being that we are NON smokers, I didn’t even know how to use the lighter (dad helped. We apparently had it on low?). Long story short, dad finally got it to light, the thing took off, but THEN! It caught a gust of wind and went straight toward Pineapple Willy’s (a restaurant on the beach with outdoor seating on the pier) and the whole dang thing starting catching FIRE!!!
I was FREAKING out!! Finally, right before it got to the pier, it landed in the sand and someone kicked sand over it. Thank God it was dark out! HAHA
And probably the best day yet!!
We started early in the morning with a jet ski ride to see the dolphins and visit shell island. Dad and Ben rode on one and Dave, Mia and I rode one. Meme stayed at the condo with Finley.
The water was SO clear today. You could seriously walk out until you were up to your neck and STILL see your feet!! It was the most gorgeous day yet!
Once we reached shell island, Ben and I walked to the other side to the beautiful beach.
Jet ski selfie while we were idling!
Excuse my cray hair, we were going 30-40MPH on.the.water and Mia kept saying “go faster!” Little dare devil.
We had SO much fun. I’m so glad we decided to go because we made so many great memories!
Next up, more beach and pool!
Swimming with my bay bay’s.
The beach life will wear a kid out, yo.
Dinner at a local place, Dee’s hang out.
Finley and daddy’s crawfish somethingoranother.
We then went to some local shops and took Mia to get her first hair wrap!! I had one when we went on our first trip to Florida when I was younger, so I really wanted Mia to get one, for my pleasure, not hers! HAHA
Trying to get a half way decent picture of my ladies…
What a jam packed, all fun, amazing day! Thank you Lord!!
The name is Lauren. I am a wife to a great looking guy, momma of two precious girls and one fur baby. I am a totally undeserving, but extremely blessed, child of the King of KIngs. I am an infertility survivor, wanna be photographer, sweet tea addict and lover of everything monogrammed!
So glad you are here!