Mark Thompson

First post: Apr 22, 2022 Latest post: Sep 19, 2022
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Howdy Y’all!

Mark was mobilized in March of 2021 for his second Covid mission in Texas. He was excited to go and be with his troops as usual. During this mission, he was busy meeting his soldiers and attending to their needs, and helping them with what he could. During one of his site visits; around the end of April; he noticed a lump on his thigh. He was not too concerned about it but did know that he needed to check this out. He made his general doctor’s appt as soon as he returned to base. This doctor sent him over to Brooke Army Medical Clinic (BAMC) to meet with an orthopedic surgeon. His first appointment with the surgeon was June 8 and he was scheduled to get an MRI, CT, and PET scan. On June 22, 2021; Mark was diagnosed with Sarcoma; undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.

With this whirlwind of information came a completed medical plan of treatment. Mark was scheduled immediately for 25 rounds of radiation. After the radiation, the plan was surgery to remove the tumor.  Mark started radiology on June 24 and finished his treatments on July 30. Because of the amount of radiation, he had been given, they needed to wait a minimum of 2 weeks to allow his skin to heal. On August 16 Mark endured a 16-hour surgery to remove the tumor from his leg. They estimated that the tumor and surrounding muscle mass that was removed weighed about 12 pounds and was the equivalent size of a nerf football. I will never forget the relief I felt hearing him joke with his care team as they wheeled him into the ICU. He stayed in the ICU for 24 hours and then transferred to a typical hospital room for the remainder of his stay.

Our first visit from the surgeon was filled with news of what was all completed. They told us that they ended up removing 70-75% of his right quad muscle and showed us an x-ray of his leg. They did not need to rebuild his femoral artery nor did they harm his femoral nerve.  They mentioned that he may not have full use of his leg due to the amount of muscle that was removed. They filled us in on their plans if donor muscle from another part of his body would need to be transferred into his leg and how they would go about doing that. They wanted to start physical therapy and hyperbaric chamber therapy as soon as they could.

Mark was released from the hospital on August 21st.  He had new staples, screws, carbon fiber plates, JP drains, a wound vac and a leg immobilizer to go along home with him. The care team filled our heads with care instructions and gave us a grocery bag filled with medicine and supplies. We made our way back to the barracks and started living with this new chapter.

On the first follow-up appointment with the surgeon, we were told that his margins for cancer in the remaining tissue were zero. The surgical team was successful at removing all of the cancer from his leg.

There were follow-up doctor, physical, and hyperbaric therapy appointments in the weeks that followed. His incision was healing, but because of the radiated skin, it was healing slowly.  They removed the final JP drain on Sept 21. Mark continued with his therapy appointments and was amazing the surgeons with his ability to still be able to lift and lower his leg unaided.  

On Sept 23, there was a spot on his incision that broke open. Thankfully we were at a PT appointment and had a hyperbaric appointment directly after. The care team in the hyperbaric chamber therapy unit are trained in major wound care. They knew exactly what to do. After Mark’s hyper session, they sent us over to orthopedics. Mark was admitted to the hospital that night. They were planning on cleaning and trying to reseal the wound. Mark’s skin was severely damaged by the radiation and it was not healing in one area. They tried to clean and get the wound to seal twice more and added surgical skin to help the wound heal. Mark was released from the hospital on October 1.  On the follow-up with the surgeon, the wound was not healing. It was still popping open with the slightest amount of pressure. Our remaining option was to go with the rotational flap.

October 26, Mark was scheduled for his rotational flap. The surgical team was going to remove abdominal muscle from his right side and rotate it down into his thigh. They repositioned part of his abdominal muscle into his thigh like it was something that they do daily. Mark was in the hospital for another 8 days and he was released with another JP drain. We had more to learn and more to take care of, but thankfully the wound was sealed.

In the month of November, Mark was scheduled to have his first set of scans following the main surgery. He had a PET, CT, and an MRI done and all came back clear, there was no evidence of issues. YAY!! The next set of scans would be done in three months.

The months in between scans were filled with appointments and activities. There were two small spots on Mark’s incision that were still leaking fluid. The doctors were not too concerned as long as the fluid stayed clear and Mark did not have a temp. Gradually one of the two spots stopped. The remaining spot continued to leak for months.  Again, no concern unless the fluid was no longer clear or if Mark had a temp. So, onward it is.

At the end of January, Mark went in for his scans and the scans showed that there is a new spot on his lung. Mark is scheduled right away for a biopsy of the spot. The results of the biopsy are that the spot is malignant and that Mark will have to start chemotherapy.  The appointment with the oncologist was filled with information that was hard to grasp but came down to Mark will be faced with six rounds of chemotherapy. Each round of chemo will consist of 21 days; five days he will be in the hospital receiving IV chemo and then recovering for 16 days. His first round of chemo started February 24; his second round was March 17 and his third round is scheduled for April 7.  

We have been in Texas for the duration of this journey and we will be here until we are cleared to come home. We will update you more along the way. We love you all!

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