Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New year, new fun


Well, folks, it's 2010, and I have just one question: where's my hovercar? Or really, I'd settle for a hover-skateboard, "Back to the Future" style (Though to be fair, Part II was set in 2015, so I guess science has 5 years to get on that).

Anyway. . .

I'm still chugging along here, but there are ups and downs as usual. My pelvic lesion has not been bothering me as much, so I've been able to walk around a bit more without using my swanky camouflage cane. The latest CT shows the tumor to be holding steady size-wise, so that's a good sign that the Cyberknife did its job.

My liver drainage tube stopped outputting fluid for a while, but then I started having leakage around the entry site instead. It was pretty annoying and gross, as I would have to change the bandages there 3-4 times a day. I started to get pretty good at figuring out which gauze pads worked the best for soaking up the most fluid, though. Finally, last week the IR doc went in and messed around with the tube a bit, injected some blood thinner, and replaced the drain with a bigger tube. He managed to pull out quite a bit of fluid then, and now the tube is outputting a lot more. I was again not fully asleep for the procedure, although I remember less of this one than the previous ones. I do remember that he would call to me every now and then, waking me from a drug-induced stupor, and say, "Hey Alex, want to see what we're pulling out of you?" and he would show me some bits of tissue, explaining that it was probably dead tumor. "Er, that's great. . . " I'd mumble and go back to la-la land.

The next day, at the behest of my oncologist, I met with a surgeon about removing the tumor from my liver. Apparently everyone on my medical team has been wanting this guy to do this for a while now, but he's been reluctant because it wouldn't be curative. That is, he could remove the right lobe of the liver, getting all of the active tumor and dead tumor and whatever else is in there out, but I'd still have the lung nodules and pelvic tumor to deal with. Somehow, though, my oncologist has managed to convince him that surgery is the best next step, especially given that the liver is what's causing the bulk of my problems right now (fevers, abdominal pain, drainage tube), which in turn are requiring me to be on a whole host of drugs that make me tired, constipated, etc. In addition, the embolization has cut off the blood supply to the liver, so it's pretty tough for any kind of systemic chemo drug to get there. That's likely why the liver tumor hasn't responded to the sorafenib, while the lung nodules have.

So, Feb. 4 is the surgery date - I get to lose yet another piece of my innards, and hang out in the hospital for about a week or so. It'll be a big surgery, but Dr. N (my surgeon) thinks I'll be able to handle it well. They're going to take the whole right lobe out, so I'll have a pretty massive scar across my abdomen (chicks dig the Frankenstein look, right?). Amazingly, the liver should fully regenerate itself within six weeks or so. He says I should be back to 85% in about a month (though 85% of what I'm not exactly sure :P).**

As for those pesky lung nodules, they seem to be holding pretty steady right now, but a couple of new small specks have shown up on my most recent chest CT. We're going to keep going with the sorafenib for now, but my doc has another drug lined up that she thinks shows a lot of promise. I guess we'll have to try that one after the surgery and a bit of healing time.

** By the way, I think my surgeon has a funny voice, kind of similar to the abominable snowman from Looney Tunes cartoons. It's even better that he has a pretty good sense of humor, too.


jeff said...

wow, fully regenerated in six weeks? Livers are amazing.. :)

Jessica said...

I guess livers and lizard tails have something in common! I wish you speedy healing from your operation, which sounds long overdue! I hope it gets rid of all the liver tumor and puts an end to the pain, fevers, etc. you've been suffering with. What an ordeal!! By the way, ladies absolutely love massive Frankenstein scars...WAY more hard core than any tattoo!! :D

Sharon U. said...

Glad they're finally moving to resolve the liver issues; I hope getting rid of that pesky right lobe eases a lot of your symptoms!

Now I'll get back to work on your hover-skateboard so it'll be all ready when you get out of the hospital...

Megan said...

I would say that Alex Tung at 85% is the rest of us 150! Alex, Abby and I are thinking of you lots from our perch on 2nd floor of the Haas Center! Hope next week goes smoothly! I will be in DC at the Gardner Fellowship Midyear Meeting. We have two students working in the White House so I get to go on a tour! Hang in there! Megan Swezey Fogarty

alpha254 said...

I haven't seen you in a long time, but I've thought about you and hoped you were doing ok. Take care and know that I'm wishing the best for you. Thomas

オテモヤン said...