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Lorri's symptoms became noticeable on Tuesday, February 28th 2017. She felt as though a cloud had come over her. That night they played cards with friends and Chuck (her husband) noticed slightly slurred speech and that she was taking time with her cards. Though there was nothing alarming to raise concern. When they got home she noticed she couldn't get her necklace off so went to bed with it on. In the night she wanted it off and did finally get it but it was a struggle. She woke up in the morning to get ready for work. She noticed that the left side of her face was droopy. She had a hard time washing her hair because her left arm was weak. After getting ready, she woke Chuck up and told him that she thought she had a stroke. She tried calling her doctor and noticed that it was hard to use the phone. At that point Chuck drove her to the emergency room in Spirit Lake. The CT scan done there determined that there was not evidence of a stroke but instead there was a brain tumor. She was admitted to the hospital in Spirit Lake to get an MRI done. This confirmed that she had a 16mm brain tumor in the right side of her brain. The doctors consulted with neurosurgery at Avera in Sioux Falls. The initial plan was to transfer her by ambulance but there was not a bed available. Instead she went home with Chuck and had an appointment with neurosurgery in Sioux Falls the next day. The neurosurgeon explained that she would need surgery to remove the tumor as it was pressing on the part of the brain that controls movement for the left side of the body. In addition, she had two more areas of concern for tumors.
Lorri and Chuck went home after the appointment with the neurosurgeon on March 2nd. Over the next day she became weaker. After talking to the doctors in Sioux Falls, they wanted her to return to Sioux Falls and be admitted. She was admitted on Friday March 3rd. Surgery remained set for March 8th. During that time she was given steroids to help decreasing swelling and inflammation caused by the tumors. No big changes during that time but doctors did prepare family with the possibility this could be cancer due to the various spots on the brain.
The morning of March 8th came and new scans were completed prior to surgery. Surgery was scheduled for 11:00 am but moved up to 10:00 after the surgery before her went quicker than anticipated. As about 20 family members waited, her surgery went quicker than expected as well. When the volunteer came to tell us that we could come with her because surgery was done, several of us said "done?!?!". Unsure if this was good or bad. That was a long 15-20 minute wait for the surgeon! They first had us in a room with 4 chairs - the surgeon came and moved us to a bigger room to talk with us all. Surgery went well - he made the incision, took out the piece of skull, removed the bulk of the tumor, replaced the piece of skull and closed up the incision. The bad news came next - this appears to be glioblastoma which is a very aggressive form of brain cancer....
Glioblastoma has no known cause and no known cure. Standard treatment can slow progression but it does not kill all the cells to cure it. Glioblastoma is difficult to treat because it grows along healthy brain tissue and follows the normal pathways through the brain. You cannot remove all the cancer cells with surgery because it is within healthy brain tissue. The other problem is that not all cells are the same - so some cells may respond to chemo while others respond to radiation. Then there is the possibility that other cells do not respond to either treatment. Of course, that is the unknown.
Lorri came out of anesthesia well and woke up able to move her left side. This was a wonderful sign as the surgeon was concerned she may come out of surgery paralyzed on the left side due to the location of the tumor. She was given the news the next morning and everyone was overwhelmed with information from neurosurgery and oncology. An inconceivable amount to process and cope with. We are all thankful for the amount of family we have to support Lorri and each other.
Exact treatment is unknown until we have final the pathology report (which should be this week) but it will likely include 6 weeks of radiation and a chemo pill. The radiation oncologist believes this likely started as a less aggressive cancer due to how much it has spread already. Of course there is no way to know this for sure, but it likely started less aggressive then a few areas turned aggressive and symptoms became apparent. He did state that we will be radiating more of the brain than they would typically like to because of the area of brain involved. There is nothing to do about this - just a fact. Radiation cannot start until the incision is healed since radiation will essentially stop the healing process. In the meantime, Lorri has been moved to a rehabilitation unit still at Avera in Sioux Falls. She receives various therapies for at least three hours a day, six days a week. They are working on strength, coordination, speech and other deficits caused by the tumors. Chuck is able to stay in the room with her as well.
Now, we wait. Wait for final pathology and the treatment options that come with it. The medical oncology team will be the ones to the look at this information and determine what they feel is the best approach. Lorri will be presented the options and she will choose how she would like to proceed. We are all by her side and supporting her through this unwelcome chapter of life.
We welcome prayers, positive attitudes, happy thoughts, and a miracle! Lorri will be checking messages and comments between therapy and resting. Thank you for the support and we will post updates as things change or new information is known.