Would you like to participate in a research study about gratitude? Learn More
Welcome to my story. It's been more than four years since my cancer diagnosis in November 2007. I've been blessed by this site so much. Not only do I have the opportunity to share my journey in the best way I know how -- writing -- but I'm also inspired by your words of comfort, prayers, encouragement and good humor.
Thank you -- Suzy
Timeline: In late August 2007, I noticed a sort of “dust in my throat” and had a very minor cough.
Nov. 5: During a meeting at work, I realized I was having trouble verbalizing my thoughts. I could see the words in my head, but just couldn't wrap my mind around them. Nov 13: This inability to complete a real thought continued, so I made an appointment with the doctor at the GM clinic. He'd seen me before, and knew this wasn't normal. I had to script out what to say.
The doctor then made an appointment to see a neurologist for the next day, Nov. 14. Dr. R gave me an exam and recommended an MRI. for later at 10 p.m.
Nov. 15: 11 a.m. follow-up with Dr. R. He told me I hadn't had a minor stroke, but rather had a brain tumor on the left frontal lobe. Walnut-sized and located on the outside of the brain. He ordered two tests, a high contrast MRI of the head, and a high contrast CT scan of the torso (pelvic and chest). I got a high definition MRI that day.
Nov. 16: High contrast CT scan.
Nov. 17: Dr. R called and informed me that he had some concerns about my scan, and that I had an appointment at 1:40 p.m. on the next Monday with an oncologist.
Nov. 19: Dr. Seng said I had a mass on my lower left lung and some fluid in the chest cavity, along with a small cyst on my liver. They also noticed that my lymph nodes were just above normal in size. Dr. Seng set up appointments to get a PET scan and a biopsy, and meet with a radiation specialist and a neurosurgeon.
Nov. 20: 10 a.m. I met with Dr. Grabowski in Radiation Oncology and discussed treatment options for the brain tumor. Had a PET scan that afternoon in Edina.
Nov 21: I reported to Abbott at 7:15 a.m. for a biopsy of the fluid and mass in my left lung. Later, at 1:45 p.m., I met with Dr. Nagib, a very reassuring neurosurgeon and discussed the surgery options. In his words; "Suzy, you are healthy. We'll deal with the brain tumor and ‘zip it right out.'"
Nov. 22: The diagnosis? Lung cancer as the primary site -- which had spread to the brain. The oncologist felt we needed to get the tumor out of my head -- stat. The neurosurgeon had something open up on Monday morning. Another whirlwind of trying to get a pre-op physical, scheduled at Abbott, etc.
Nov. 26: Surgery at Abbott Northwestern hospital to remove brain tumor. Everyone said that Dr. Nagib, my surgeon, is a superstar. Biopsy showed that the tumor was cancerous; with the primary site in the lung.
Nov 29: Out of the hospital from having the tumor removed on Nov. 26 -- it was very successful.
Dec. 3 Met with an oncologist at the U of Minn in the morning. It seems most docs are advocating whole-brain radiation as an insurance policy that nothing else will pop up there down the road to get me in trouble. T
Dec. 6. Met Dr. Elizabeth Cameron, who spent a lot of time with us, just talking and answering questions. I got my radiation mask made while I was there. Went back to work in the afternoon.
Dec. 14: Met with my original oncologist, Dr. Seng.
Dec. 20 - Jan 15, 2008: Fifteen sessions of whole-brain radiation treatment at the cancer clinic in Maple Grove.
Jan. 28, 2008: New scans that I needed before starting chemo revealed fluid build up in my left lung. Ended up having 1.8 liters drained at Riverside East.
Jan. 29: Met with Dr. D'Cunha, a thoracic surgeon at the U, to talk about options to keep my lung clear.
Jan 31: Rather than starting chemo, I checked into Fairview at 5:40 a.m. The doc ended up draining about another liter of fluid, and adding an external tube drain. I've been tapped.
Feb - June 2008: Completed six rounds (three weeks apart) of Carbo/Taxol chemo. It took 4-6 hours usinf an IV.
July 2008 - Sept. 2009: Took a targeted cancer drug that goes after the cancer cells and pretty much leaves the rest of me alone. Have had great results -- learned in October 2008 that the primary 10 cm lung mass has dissolved.
Sept. 2009 -July 20, 2012: Cancer enlarges and shrinks, then repeats. I've had new brain tumors that have been zapped by the "gamma knife" in 2011, and now, in 2012, am charting a course to delete the large mass of cancer in my left lower lung.
July 20th, 2012 at 11:50 pm, Suzy went home, she has been greatly missed by all who loved her. We are grateful that she was in our life.