Skip had been having back pain between his shoulders for a few months. He had visited the chiropractor but the pain didn't improve. In addition he had some pain that seemed to move about his body and a few weeks ago thought he was having a heart attack. A scan showed a shadow on his lung. He was then sent to a Pulmonologist and an MRI was ordered. The MRI showed that he had a tumor pushing on his spinal cord. On Wednesday Sept. 27th he was rushed by Ulita to UVA to consult with the neurosurgery team. They soon determined that he had Stage 4 lung cancer. As most of you know, Skip never smoked, so this came as quite a shock to us all. Further CT scans showed a mass in his lung, on a rib, his spine, and a small spot in his brain. Skip was taken into surgery on Saturday Sept 30th. The neurosurgery team was able to remove about 2 inches of the tumor and bone (as the tumor had infiltrated his bone). This allowed more room for the spinal cord. They couldn't remove the tumor from around the spinal cord because the tumor was adhered to it. Four pins were then inserted to stabilize the vertebral column. At this point Skip has a brace that he has to wear if he is sitting or standing. We will be here at UVA until the end of the week.
The next step is waiting for the initial pathology report, hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. This will outline the type of lung cancer (20 % of lung cancers are in non-smokers) and the aggressiveness of the cells. Once Skip returns to Roanoke and heals (a few weeks) he will complete a 2 week regime of radiation on his spine. After healing from radiation he will start some form of chemotherapy, targeted therapy (oral medication that targets specific mutations), or immunotherapy (medications that boost the immune system response). His oncologists here will consult with his oncologist in Roanoke (Dr. Fintel) to determine what treatment protocol is best at this time.
As always, Skip is joking around with the nurses and doctors and keeping them entertained. His sense of humor will bring him far in this fight as well and his overall health. The oncologists told us that some people live up to 5 years with stage 4 lung cancer, so we have some hope.
We appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and love. I will update this site when anything changes or when we get updates on his prognosis. Please post entries here for Skip. He would love to read them. ~ Decca