Welcome to Carla's CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your prayers, support, and words of hope and encouragement.
On Monday, March 8th, 2021, Carla went into Urgent Care for what seemed to be symptoms of a pinched nerve that had been going on for the last month or so. She was having ongoing headaches worsening in severity, and intermittent numbness and tingling in her hands. The Urgent Care Doctor ordered an MRI for the morning, as he also thought her symptoms seemed like a pinched nerve, but wanted to further investigate what was going on.
On Tuesday, March 9th, Carla had the MRI in the morning, and soon learned from her doctor that it was not good news of what was seen on the imaging. She was told she needed to go to St. Cloud Hospital asap, as there was a large tumor present in the brain's frontal lobe and she would likely be needing surgery in the next day or so to remove it. She called Dave at work to come home and updated on their plans for the evening, and they drove to St. Cloud within the hour of the news. She was admitted to St. Cloud Hospital's Neuro Unit that evening, with plans to see a Neurosurgeon and obtain more imaging tests in the morning.
On Wednesday, March 10th, Carla had another MRI, and also a CT scan of her entire body to check for other sources of tumor within her body. It was confirmed that there were no other tumors present in her body, besides the large one in the frontal lobe of her brain. This meant it was a "Primary" brain tumor (originating in the brain, and had not spread from another origin elsewhere in her body). There was also a small "abnormality" that also appeared tumor-like within the middle of her brain on the corpus callosum, and that it was likely related to the large tumor. The frontal lobe tumor was about the size of a golf ball. The Neurosurgeon thought that due to the nature of the large tumor, that it grew very fast and likely it would not have even been present if she would have had a MRI 6 months before. He talked over brain surgery with Carla (a crainiotomy), and surgery was scheduled for the next morning.
On Thursday, March 11th, Carla had brain surgery early that morning. It was about a 2.5 hour surgery to remove the frontal lobe tumor. The Neurosurgeon wanted to get a biopsy (tissue sample) of the small tumor near the corpus callosum, but was unable to as it was too risky for potential complications. The removed tumor was sent to Mayo Clinic for a pathology exam, and we were told it likely would be up to 14 days before hearing the final results of the pathology report. The Neurosurgeon did confirm at this time that it was brain cancer that he removed, and the pathology would confirm in more details the specifics of what kind.
Surgery went very well, and Carla was walking independently by Friday, March 12th. She was discharged home on Saturday, March 13th. She was not having any neuro deficits, and was back to her sharp thinking. At this point in retrospect, we had all talked and agreed that she had definitely been having ongoing moments of confusion, that were now clearly gone after the tumor was removed. The only symptoms she was experiencing after surgery was mild pain on her scalp incision that was relieved with Tylenol, mild facial swelling, and was becoming tired quite easily (as expected after a huge surgery like a crainiotomy). She was sent home with very few medications. All of these symptoms were easily managed at home. Megan, Tara, and Kayla were all able to come home for the weekend to be home with her and Dave, and to help make the transition home go a little more smoothly. Kayla stayed home for the first week, with plans for Tara the following week, and Megan for the third week. Dave was also off work and home during this entire time with her. We started contacting Mayo Clinic right away, knowing that once final pathology was back, Carla would want to get the remainder of her care within this hospital system.
On Thursday, March 18th, the Neurosurgeon called with preliminary results. He said the pathology had showed that the cancer Carla had was called Glioblastoma. It was described as a "high-grade astrocytoma" tumor, which means it staged as a Grade 4, very aggressive, and cancerous. The Neurosurgeon explained that he likely removed all of the tumor during surgery but due to the nature of Glioblastoma, that there often can be "microfragments" left behind that would not able to be seen right away, and it likely had a chance to grow back. He was aware of the decision to go to Mayo, so said that the next steps would be to see a Mayo doctor to discuss chemo, radiation, and other treatment options once the final pathology report was completed with the exact "subtype" of the Glioblastoma. He was unable to give specifics on treatment, as this is the speciality of the oncology doctors at Mayo and from here on out they would manage her care.
Carla was officially accepted as a patient at Mayo on Friday, March 26th. It can be very difficult to "get in" to Mayo, so it was truely a blessing that she was accepted so quickly by this team of amazing doctors. She will get her next MRI on Thursday, April 15th at Mayo Clinic, with her first appointment with her team of doctors on Friday, April 16th. Dave & Megan are able to go with her to these appointments. We have decided at this time to wait to hear more about the details of the "subtype" at this time (as those results technically are back and finalized), as really there will not be more answers regarding treatment until the 4/16 appointment when meeting with these doctors.
Until the Mayo appointments, Carla continues to do well at home. She remains independent in her daily tasks and remains intellectually sharp, still without neuro deficits. She has been enjoying time with her daughters, Dave, and dog Nala, and started getting out on long walks outside to enjoy the sunshine. She has seen a lot of family and a few friends, and continues to join her prayer warrior team as she prepares her mind and heart for the next steps in her journey. We appreciate all of the continuous prayers, visits, dropoffs, calls, and texts from everyone thus far, and really it is difficult to even give an appropriate amount of thanks to you all. Carla and her family have been blown away, and feel your constant love, prayers, and support in this time of new changes for us all.
We plan to use this CaringBridge to keep family and friends updated in her journey. Please continue to help us pray, as we know our God is Mighty!