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.