Apr 19, 2021
6 mins read
Hey! How’s it goin’ eh? JR here with another update (week 2) on how I’m doin’ now and how things are progressing with my post-surgical journey.
I am still in a ton of pain but, it is tolerable and being managed nicely by Teresa and my family doctor at Entira. Week two was basically filled with phone calls, blood labs, scans and lots of appointments and post-surgical follow ups and I was just asked…… do you want to hear the good-news or, the good-news first?
Hmmmmm, okay, gimme the good-news first….
Welp, the good-news is that the surgery was a complete success and both the tumor and the suspicious spot at the back of the lung was removed along with ALL the lymph-nodes as well. The other good-news? I am in FULL remission! Wha……?? Yup, so…..
I met with my surgeon and went over the surgical outcomes, tests/lab results, reviewed the scans (CTs and X-rays) and discussed the pain management plan that Teresa and my family doc have in-place.
I was told that there was simply no margins available when it came to the tumor and he could no longer find the suspicious spot that are in all the scans so……..to play safe, he simply removed the entire lower lobe of the left lung.
So….the cancer is now gone - gone and the lymph-nodes were all negative for any cancer so it has NOT spread to the other vital organs and there is nothing to clean up so as far as the surgeon is concerned, our journey is complete and I am indeed, a rare specimen as my outcome is almost unheard of and, will make for a good case-study down the road.
A ten-hour surgery that took only four and, being on life support for only an hour instead 1-3 days is also incredible and extremely rare as leaks and other complications are what always lead to 7, 8, or 9 additional days in the hospital but because my case was SO successful, they kicked me to the curb only four days after my surgery.
Side Note: I mentioned the horrible care I received in the hospital and although there is nothing he can do about it (as a surgeon) he did apologize and said that yes, it is unacceptable and that I should have gone to level 3 as a cancer patient and not level (floor) 5 meant for general surgery patients. Most (not all) people where I was placed simply don’t know how to care for cancer patients (not trying to make excuses for them) but yeah, I said he / they (surgical team) really need to make sure that patients such as me gets handed off to the proper team so that the appropriate care is provided. Again, he really did apologized and hopefully this doesn’t happen in the future. Just sayn’…..
I also took myself OFF the Dilaudid (cold-turkey) without any side-effects or withdrawal symptoms so, the occasional Vicodin for breakthrough pain does the trick and the healing process will probably take 6-9 months as the vacant space in my chest is filled up with fluids and the remaining part of the lung sinks down a bit and my heart lowers a wee bit as well.
Oh, and I got to shower a few times this past week which was awesome. You know, nothing feels better than getting the funk removed and cleaned up. So, when I do the next podcast (later this week) I should look, feel and smell phenomenal ……I mean, I’ve seen, felt and examined myself closely and trust me, I’m a delight. LoL ;-)
As for the wound care, Teresa has been helping me keep them clean and infection FREE by taking care of my side and back when I’m in the shower. Woohoo! In fact, I asked her if she could take care of my front too and she said, “do your own front”. LoL!! Ooh, that hurts……her comment and the laugh. heh
Anywho, I then met with my oncologist (the awesome Dr Rachel Lerner at Park Nicollet) and we discussed the surgery and her assessment, analysis and future recommendations. As for her assessment, she is beyond satisfied with the surgical outcome and her analysis after receiving the labs regarding the lymph nodes is that I am in FULL remission and that there is literally nothing there to clean up…..the lower half of my lung is gone so…..and with the lymph nodes all CANCER FREE means that it has NOT spread throughout my body and my other organs are safe and free from cancer!
So, I will do a quickie blood lab this week for a CEA level count and then just to play it safe, we will do follow up labs, scans and a meeting in three months, then at six months and then annually if all goes well.
But for now, she simply said, CONGRATS…you are now in FULL remission! So…..no cleanup chemotherapy and no targeted radiation treatments. Just a simple, we’ll keep a close eye on you in the future and, take care my friend. Wha….?? Wow!
I then met with my family doc [remotely] at Entira Family Clinics in Woodbury and reviewed my case, changed my pain management plan, discussed my disability status, scheduled follow ups and am looking forward to seeing everyone there at the Woodbury clinic this upcoming week.
My appetite has returned as well and I am eating a bunch of crap again and have actually gained two pounds (woohoo!) so, to go from starving (skin and bones) to eating like a horse is awesome especially now that I can absorb whatever I eat. Nice!
Teresa’s friend Sara stopped by the house this weekend to help us with some paperwork and to apply for some grants that we may qualify for and as a super cool surprise, a FULL Outback Steakhouse dinner which was WAY cool and yes, I ate everything on my plate. HEAVEN
Oh, and a special THANKS to everyone (hundreds) who sent me get well cards, sent me care packages, coffee treats, emails, text messages, DMs etc etc etc……the outpouring of love and support was overwhelming and means the world to me……more than you’ll ever know.
I honestly didn’t think I was gonna make it this time around and so it was super stressful getting my “affairs in order” and making sure that Teresa (and Brandon and my Dad) would be taken care of should I not return home.
But wow!! Everything that could go right, went right. Usually it’s the other way around (ie: what can/could go wrong usually does goes wrong) so for things to go SO right was a blessing and then some.
Anywho……..keep an eye out for a video update and my next video podcast (in the next few days) where I will also do a complete update and will do a special shout-out to all of those who reached out to me, prayed for me, thought about me, sent me some magical juju and all those who sent me those care-packs.
And finally, a very SPECIAL shout-out and thank you to everyone who bought me a coffee treat or signed up as a supporting member at https://buymeacoffee.com/jsarzoza I simply can’t thank you enough for all the love and support you’ve shown me and Teresa. We love you ALL and hopefully I can do something special this summer to show how much we appreciate your contribution to my fight against cancer.
The road (my path) to full recovery is gonna be a tough road ahead but…. the healing process will be SO much easier knowing we can pay for some of my future medical expenses and all the other costs associated with battling cancer. Thanks again and, have yourself a wonderful weekend! Chat soon. ~JR