Connie Gray

First post: 12/2/2016 Latest post: 12/23/2016
In August of 2016, Mom (Connie Gray) went to see her primary physician and reported coughing up blood. Tests found a 5.3 cm mass in her lower lobe of her right lung. On August 17th she went to the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and met with the lung cancer surgical team. She met her surgeon, Dr Louis Jacque. On August 18th she had her first PET scan and the only cancer that showed on the scan was the mass in her lung. On August 19th she stopped smoking cold turkey after 60 years of smoking! The doctors gave her 3 weeks to build up her strength by eating more protein, and get her lungs a head start to being smoke free.  She was suppose to start walking daily, but a week later her father, Birchard Buss (age 98), had a stroke, and so a lot of time was spent in the hospital.  Mom was his caregiver, and had been for 5 years.  He was transferred to a nursing home a day before her surgery.

Her lower lob on the right lung was surgically removed on September 8th at United Hospital in St Paul. We were concerned because of the nursing strike, but we were blessed with amazing nurses who went way above and beyond in their wonderful care giving.  A few days into recovery she developed a Thoracic duct leak. She began to loose to much fluids without signs of stopping.  On the 19th, Dr Jacque needed to go back in and seal the leak. A couple of days later she had a mucus plug form in her lungs that was decreasing the remaining lungs' ability to process oxygen. This was corrected with nebulizing medication. She was finally heading home with the hope that all of the cancer was removed from her body since the lymph nodes were negative for any cancerous cells. What surprised everyone was the pathology findings that the mass was mesothelioma.  Dr Jacque was even intrigued by this because normally this type of cancer is found in the mesothelium (or lining) that surrounds the lungs, the heart, or the abdomen - hence the name mesothelioma.

A few days after being released from the hospital she developed pneumonia, and on October 2nd was back at United Hospital.  After 3 days,  she was released and starting to recover when her dad passed away.  With grieving over her dad, trying to figure out her identity since she was no longer a caregiver, and trying to heal from the surgery, depression started being a battle to fight.  We were working with planning grandpa's memorial service during this time also.

On October 28th an abdominal CT was ran because of having a lot of nausea and no appetite.  A growth on the left adrenal gland was found and discussed on November 3rd.  November 5th was grandpa's memorial service.  On November 10th mom went up to Minnesota Oncology in St Paul. Her oncologist is Dr Thomas Ducker. A new updated PET was scheduled for the 15th, but on the 15th she became so full of fear that she spiked her blood sugars above 200 so she couldn't have the test. They tried again on the 16th with the same problem.  With Thanksgiving during the next week, the next PET was scheduled for the 28th of November.

On Thanksgiving,  mom had some sharp abdominal pains hit her lower right abdomen that hurt bad enough that she didn't want to move. We headed to the ER thinking that maybe it was her appendix. Another CT was ran. Good news was that the appendix looked beautiful, but the bad news was that a second growth was found, this time on her right adrenal gland. The growth on her left gland had grown a lot.   In a strange way this helped mom to not stress about the PET results. On November 28th a new PET was ran.  December 2nd we find out the answers and the plan of attack.   

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