“Wonder Woman Down” said one of Sally’s best friends this past week.
Sally, my mom, radiates kindness, joy, gratefulness and positive energy! She loves God, her husband, her family and living life to the fullest with joy and purpose. Her energy level and activity surpasses most women her age and she strives to be “doing something” every day.
A month ago she was dancing at her 60th class reunion... a successful event that she chaired and coordinated! Today she is in a hospital room looking out over Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie awaiting tomorrow's brain biopsy surgery.
Over the past month, this woman, who is usually determined to walk her daily 10,000 steps, and play golf and/or tennis 3 times a week has rapidly declined. Her walking pace drastically slowed down and she ultimately bowed out from walking with her girl friends.
She was experiencing intermittent, debilitating back and leg pain, losing weight along with her appetite. She also was experiencing some headaches and dizziness. She tripped a couple times, and she just “wasn’t her bubbly active self”.
This past week, at home, was a rough one for mom and dad seeking out answers and doing whatever they could to get her relief!
Last Thursday morning, Sept 5th, she experienced a severe “back and leg pain attack”, which resulted in her shaking and passing out. Mom doesn’t even remember what happened, but it was the scariest experience of my dad’s life!
Steve and Dad took her to the emergency room at St. Vincent Hospital in Erie. She arrived in pain, very weak, dehydrated, and somewhat confused. Her initial exam, blood work and diagnostic tests were all perfect and inconclusive for anything wrong!
Recognizing the need for further investigation, the ER staff handed her care off to Internal Medicine Hospitalist Extraordinaire Dr. Akash Patel. He admitted her and ordered additional investigative tests.
By the next morning, Sept 6, mom was professionally and compassionately given the shocking news that there were lesions in her brain and lower spine consistent with metastatic brain cancer.
Talk about shock and awe! Mom received the news with her “can do” attitude, a sense of peace that flowed through her, and a confidence that God’s will be done... and that He will lead her in this battle!
She was immediately started on medications to prevent seizures, and to decrease the swelling and inflammation in her brain and spine. Her memory and confusion improved, her shooting back and leg pain went away... and she started looking and feeling so much better and more like the Sally and Wonder Woman we all know and love!
The last few days have been filled with prayers, phone calls to and from friends and loved ones, hospital visitors, flowers, and a beautiful crocheted prayer shawl from FUMC of Union City! (She takes it with her everywhere)
She is being taken care of by a super star team of medical professionals! She has been through screening and diagnostic tests in an attempt to find a possible source of cancer somewhere else in her body as another explanation of what is showing up on her MRI! Nothing has been found!
Although it looks on the MRIs (pictures of the brain and spine) that it is brain cancer, no cancer cells were found floating in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), which is the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The infectious disease team is also running further tests on the CSF collected to see if there could be a “long shot” non-cancerous cause for her brain lesions and symptoms.
No stone has been left unturned to try and find another place in her body, other than the brain, to obtain some tissue to biopsy! Getting tissue is a MUST to help us know what she is facing so treatment can begin!
She needs a biopsy of at least one of the brain lesions. The upside is that one of her brain lesions is close to the skull and easy to get to. The downside is that it is very close to major veins and critical speech and memory areas.
Mom has a wonderful neurosurgeon, Dr. Daniel Muccio! She really likes him and has confidence in him as a person and as a surgeon. He has been caring, comforting, knowledgable, available, compassionate, and an all around excellent health care provider! He has consulted with other specialists and neurosurgical colleagues within and outside the hospital system to come up with the safest and most effective way to get tissue to confirm a diagnosis.
And with a diagnosis, treatment can start!
She is set for an open image guided brain biopsy surgery tomorrow, Sept 12, at 1pm at Saint Vincent’s hospital. Using the computer for her surgery will guide the neurosurgeon to accurately and safely biopsy the lesion and help him avoid any other critical brain structures.
Mom has a strong faith in God! She is confident that He is the ultimate healer and that she is totally wrapped up in His protecting arms! She is a fighter and prayer warrior who is now asking for your prayers... for tomorrow’s surgery, for her husband, her family, her surgeon, his team, and for a solid diagnosis to guide the next steps of her treatment!
Mom feels and appreciates your love and prayers! As a family, we all are grateful for everyone who has reached out with calls, cards, flowers, and prayers. Thanks for your support and patience as we navigate this next step in mom’s journey.
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Philippians 4:13
“Because no matter how small an act of kindness or generosity or simple positivity you put out into the world, it will make a difference.”