When my brother underwent his most recent surgery to remove some necrotic bone and tissue that was causing infections, the surgeons biopsied two other areas. The first place they biopsied was a spot on his lung – which was concerning because osteosarcoma tends to spread to the lungs, through the bone structure. Fortunately, that biopsy was cancer-free. The second place they biopsied is an area of bone right above his front teeth. This biopsy detected microscopic traces of osteosarcoma, meaning that his cancer is not gone. This tumor has proven itself extremely recalcitrant – it is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and has remained despite three surgical interventions. His doctors have proposed a fourth surgery to remove all cancerous bone, and explained that chemotherapy and radiation are no longer viable options.
With all of that in mind, my brother is faced with the prospect of more surgery. The proposed procedure is large – definitely the biggest he’s undergone – but the doctors have described it as a last curative solution. The surgery would significantly impact his quality of life, further limiting his ability to eat. However, driven by the prospect of a curative solution, Nick has decided to pursue it. We are meeting with doctors next week to discuss reconstruction and get some scans to be certain that there is no sign of metastasized disease.
That is where things stand. I said before that cancer is devious. It is taking away options and backing my brother into a corner. I must emphasize that his decision to undergo a surgery of this magnitude is a statement to the universe that not one ounce of fight has left his body. His strength remains unbroken against a set of circumstances beyond what we could have feared. He has been backed into a corner by a beast of a tumor that has fought him for a year. But my brother is a beast too. It is only with the greatest inner strength, and some luck, that he will persevere, but he has these traits aplenty. We will beat this.
Nick and I are headed to Las Vegas this weekend as we get the ball rolling on surgery (because mental health is important too). It will be the first time in almost a year that he will be without a PICC line. Since November, he has had a line coming out of his left arm so that my mother and his nurses can hook up his medications without needing to insert a new IV each time. This requires him to wrap his upper arm in plastic before showering every day. Needless to say, having his PICC removed before our trip to Vegas is quite the reason to celebrate.
We appreciate all the love and support from family and friends. Please send good wishes to my brother, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind hearing them. He’s very nice, and by that I mean there is no soul greater in all the world. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.