May 11, 2020 Latest post:
Jul 14, 2021
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Our lives changed on September 6, 2019. Carolann had a scheduled colonoscopy. Dr. Frank Totta found two cancers (one in the upper colon and the other was an internal anal melanoma). Only 1% of cancers are anal melanoma. Dr. Totta averages 1,000 colonoscopies a year and he has been doing it for 17 years. This was the first time he has ever discovered an internal anal melanoma. Internal anal melanoma are especially deadly. Following the procedure, Dr. Totta recommended several Colorectal surgeons. We selected Dr. Lina O'Brien. He also recommended several Oncologists. We selected Dr. Jacob Smeltzer. Because of urgency, the following days consisted of 3 scans (CAT Scan, MRI of the Brain, PET Scan of the total body). All showed NO metastasis.
In early October, surgery was performed at Menorah Hospital. On the colon cancer, Dr. O'Brien removed 8 inches of Carolann's colon and 42 lymph nodes. One of the lymph nodes had cancer. What little is known about the internal anal melanoma, there is no clear approach to properly eliminating it so radical surgery was avoided. No recovery is easy, but Carolann relatively speaking, made an amazing recovery.
Very quickly, the third week in October, the Oncologist wanted to start her on what has been an amazing treatment where the body's immune system is used to kill the cancer. This Immune Therapy has only been in use the last 10 years. This therapy was to run for 1 year. Following further recovery from the October surgery, in December they started Carolann on a less harsh Chemotherapy to treat the colon cancer found in one of the 42 lymph nodes. This therapy was to run for 6 months. Each of these therapies were given the same day every 2 weeks. Because of these therapies, Carolann had a porta cath surgically implanted.
On a scheduled PET Scan in December, the cancers HAD NOT metastasized. In an April PET Scan, the internal anal melanoma HAD metastasized.
A Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Kenneth Macdonald joined the team and Carolann, in the last 2 weeks of April 2020 had 5 radiation treatments before a scheduled May surgery. The radiation would change the DNA of the internal anal melanoma and kill it.
May 4, 2020 - Carolann is scheduled for an Anterior Peritoneal Resection with permanent colostomy for the metastasized internal anal melanoma. Little did we know, this would become the worst day of our lives. When Dr. O'Brien, with the use of the Robot, was able to see that the internal anal melanoma had spread more than the April PET Scan had shown. It has now spread throughout the entire abdomen and thus was inoperable. Consequently, Dr. O'Brien along with her partner and Dr. Smeltzer (the Oncologist) agreed that experimental medicine was the only hope. The radical surgery was cancelled with only the permanent colostomy installed.