Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated on Andy’s progress. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting!
On December 15th we were informed that Andy had a large mass growing on his C4 spine. This was discovered after a routine x-ray which was ordered by his chiropractor after he had reported neck tightness since late October. We quickly got in to see a spine surgeon and he ordered all the necessary imaging to get a better idea of what we were dealing with.
The MRI and CT revealed that the mass had engulfed 80% of Andy’s anterior vertebral body of his C4 vertebrae, this meant that it began in the bone and was growing away from his spinal cord (thank God) and into his esophagus and trachea. The tumor was around 3 cm in diameter and was named as a “cartilaginous mass” that could be benign or cancerous. We felt like we were in good hands with our spine surgeon Dr Wieser, so we decided to move forward in having he and his team remove the tumor asap, as Andy was beginning to have difficulty swallowing.
On December 31st we rang in the new year at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital in Arlington, as Andy recovered from an extensive tumor removal and reconstructive surgery of his cervical vertebrae. Dr Wieser performed a corpectomy, removing the anterior portion of his C4 along with the disks above and below, he then replaced it with an allograft (cadaver femur) in addition to bone fragments from Andy’s hip. The tumor was removed, along with surrounding bone, and replaced with bone that will eventually fuse together and is held in place by harware to protect it. Dr Wieser felt very good about how the surgery went, he sent the tumor off to pathology to determine what we were dealing with. Andy did FANTASTIC during and after surgery. He spent one night in the hospital and only required 2 days of prescription pain medications before he had switched to tylenol- his recovery has been truly remarkable.
We followed up with Dr Wieser a few days later and were given the news that Andy’s pathology had come back and had revealed a Chondrosarcoma, a cancerous mass. This was not the news we were expecting and we were devastated. However, the pathologist called it “low grade” which meant that it could be very slow growing and non- aggressive, with a less likely chance it could metastasize. They sent the tissue off to Mayo Clinic for a second reading which later confirmed low grade Chondrosarcoma.
In the mean time we were referred to an oncologist at UT southwestern who specializes in sarcomas. We met with him to see what he had to say and we just weren’t impressed with him overall- we expected a plan but were met with ambivalence and uncertainty. Chondrosarcoma is a rare cancer, and it’s extremely rare to be located in the spine, and even more rare that its found in the cervical spine in 5% of cases. We felt strongly led to investigate our options at MD Anderson and will be following up with a orthopedic oncologist that specializes in spine surgeries. We see him 1/25 in Houston and are really hopeful and excited to hear what he has to say about everything. We have learned that Chondrosarcoma doesn’t respond to radiation or chemotherapy so we are reliant that the surgery was aggressive enough, if not we may have to have more removed. Prayers that the cancer was completely removed by Dr Wieser already!
Thank you all for the prayers and support! We are trusting in God to guide us through this journey and although we have had some difficulties, we continue to feel His grace surrounding us. More to come when we visit Houston:)