Family and friends, know that my amazing wife Kris "Shorty" Buchanan (aka "Driver") has a pretty significant surgery scheduled for Monday, Janaury 6, 2020 and all prayers are appreciated.
Back in March, Driver had a tooth, lower left side extracted because it was loose. That was the first indication something was weird. It took some time before she was referred to Emory the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It is then where we first heard from a medical professional that it may be cancer, but Driver had been worried for months.
We got word in mid-December that she will have surgery. The surgery is the “replacement of the left mandible with autologous tissue substitute, open approach” Her surgeons are Mihir R. Patel, MD, http://otolaryngology.emory.edu/about-us/faculty/mihir-patel.html,
and Azeem S. Kaka, MD, https://winshipcancer.emory.edu/bios/faculty/kaka-azeem-s.html.
The surgery is schedule for Monday January 6, 2020. We are to report to the hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, 550 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 at 5:30 a.m. Surgery will begin about 9:00 a.m. and will last 8 to 10 hours.
They have done two biopsy’s for the site. None have come back as cancer. Her scans and tooth loss suggest whatever it is has progressed into her jawbone. The appearance in her mouth is visibly similar to cancer, formally called squamous cell carcinoma.
They will remove as little of her jaw as possible but enough so that if it is cancer they get it all. They go in through the neck so she will have a neck scar.
They will rebuild her jaw with titanium. Also they will rebuild her jaw with bone and tissue to include veins and arteries taken from her left arm.
She will have a cast on her left arm. She will need a skin graft from her hip to replace the skin taken from the arm. Other patients have reported that is the most painful, the hip skin graft.
Driver will be in the hospital for 7 to 10 days to recover then home for recovery over the next six weeks.
Driver will have one type of tracheotomy that will not allow her to speak placed in her throat. That will last for about 3 days. She then will have a tracheotomy placed in her throat that will allow her to speak and that will last for three to four days. When they remove the tracheotomy, they simple place a bandage on it and the site heals itself.
In addition, she will have a feeding tube that goes through her nose. That will last about a week, hopefully, much shorter.
They will test the removed bone for cancer. One test will be done intraoperatively. A more formal test will take 10 days to get results. For the formal test, they must remove the calcium in the bone through a solution. It makes almost no difference if they find or do not find cancer as to the surgery. They will remove bone and assume cancer despite any interoprative test.
It may be a benign tumor. It may be something unknown. It may be cancer. We might not learn what it is.
Whatever it is, it has not spread to the lymph nodes. They will remove some lymph nodes, but only for room for the new tissue.
If it is cancer, Driver will began radiation within six weeks of her six week recovery. All in all, if everything goes right, Driver is free from this whole ordeal on April 1, 2020, maybe earlier if no cancer.
For those concerned, I will use this Caring Bride website to keep you up to date on Driver's condition.