Good news/bad news

At the beginning of last week we found out that Stephanie had a mass on her liver, and the radiologists diagnosed it as malignant. Their diagnosis was that the liver was stage 3+ damaged (stage 4 is severe cirrhosis). The liver doctor felt that a liver that was that severely damaged could not survive open heart surgery, and her heart couldn’t take open heart surgery and a liver transplant (or chemo/radiation), so they said that the best course of action would be a liver and heart transplant.

Thursday and Friday Emory had a big conference with over 15 liver specialists to review her case. They examined the MRI and liver biopsy in detail, and they questioned the original diagnosis. They changed the diagnosis to a nonmalignant mass, and downgraded the diagnosis of liver damage to a low 3.

This means that the original plan of open heart surgery is back on for January 12th, and that most likely no transplants will be required.

The hematologist (liver doc) still wants to biopsy the mass, but he is very confident that it is not malignant. We were supposed to have the biopsy today; however, the insurance company is fighting it. It will happen, the hospital just needed some more time to fight with the insurance company, so we rescheduled it for the 4th of January.

This is somewhat of a disappointment, but also a blessing–this will let us combine two trips to the hospital(we would have had to go down on the 4th anyway to meet with the cardiologist), and it is nice to be able to relax a bit during the week of Christmas.

So on the whole, we are feeling a lot more positive than one week ago. It’s amazing to be talking about "just having open heart surgery," but your perspective changes when you start thinking about cancer and transplants.

This will still be very complex surgery that will probably take 10+ hours and require a two week hospital stay and 8 week recovery time, and a transplant may be in the picture within the next 20-30 years. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from friends, including some I hadn’t talked to for years.