Friday, July 8, 2011

I Have Good News & Bad News

Hello, friends!
We both saw our doctors today. My news is good, John's not so much. My collarbone is healing - slower than my doctor expected, but that happens after the half-century mark. I'm cleared to do whatever doesn't hurt. I'm having some vertigo when I move my head certain ways. It seems that the impact agitated my cochlear area, and it will take a few months to pass. In the meantime, I shouldn't move my head in those ways. I love my doctor; he's so wonderfully down-to-earth. But what would you expect from a man who had paper-trained iguanas as pets?
John saw his oncologist, and to the doctor's and everyone's surprise, he has stage 4 adenocarcinoma in his left lung, almost certainly another complication of the radiation he got when he was 19. There is a mass about 3 1/2 centimeters across in his left upper lobe (which caused the pleural effusion), and metastasis to his ribs and hip bones (which explains the persistent pain in his left side). The medical among you understand this; for the rest of you, I recommend It's concise, accurate, and in English. First, this is not small-cell lung cancer - it is more treatable than that. Second, lung cancer among non-smokers falls into 3 types. Each type has a slightly different prognosis and a very different treatment. So next Tuesday he will have a needle-aspirate biopsy of the mass to determine which type he has. After 2 weeks for the labwork to come back, he'll meet with his oncologist and make treatment plans.
Life will continue as normal around here, at least for a while. Just because he has the diagnosis doesn't mean that he feels bad all of a sudden. He'll keep working, and his boss will adjust his schedule as needed if chemo is planned. As long as he averages 25 hours worked per week, we'll keep our insurance and all will be well. Except, of course, for the insurance company, who must be wishing they had never heard of any Hockmans!
As far as prognosis goes, here are the stats - remember that they have no meaning when it comes to one case, only to large groups. This kind of cancer has a 10% 5-year survival rate, and only half of the patients are alive 9 months after diagnosis. John is on the good end of that, because he is relatively young and is active and in good health otherwise. And we've had ample time the last couple of months to realize that our lives are in God's hands always. On May 31st I did a low-risk thing (going to the dentist), and wound up in a mess. I was in a high-risk situation (not breathing for 5 minutes), and came out fine. Our times are not in our hands, and the Lord's ways are not known to us. It doesn't have to make sense. There won't be a test on it!
We ask, as always, for your continued prayers. We will keep all of you updated when we know more. Thanks for caring about us!

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