2006 - Bear's breastbone has always had a sticking out appearance. Around this time we noticed that it was getting bigger. Did not really think anything of it but he asked our doctor about it anyway. Our doctor said it was a fatty pocket but there was nothing to really worry about. He could have it surgically removed if it was bothering him. Decided not to go that route.
2007 - It became obvious that this was not a breastbone that stuck out. This was a mass on the breast bone. It was starting to bother Bear whenever he lowered his chin, such as when he would read a book in bed. Went back to doctor and said that he was ready to have it removed.
December 2007 - original surgery was scheduled for the week before Christmas. It was postponed to January.
January 2, 2008 - Bear has mass removed from his chest. By this time the mass is bigger than my fist. They operate under pretenses that this is a fatty pocket.
Mass was sent for routine testing. Cancer cells are found. Liposarcoma.
February 15, 2008 - Bear is back in hospital for repeat surgery. This time they scrape away the tissue around where the mass had been. They remove muscles from his chest.
March 2008 - Liposarcoma is one of those cancers that is only a concern if it is not localized. Blood tests and CT scans, etc. determine that there is no more cancer cells in Bear's body. He is declared cancer-free and does not need radiation or chemo.
July 2008 - Bear begins to feel pains in his shoulders and arms. Due to the fact he has no chest muscles, and the fact we have been working around our yard and house on a more frequent basis, we believe that his arms and shoulders are doing more work than they normally would. Pain does not go away and Bear goes to doctor's. It is determined that he has a pinched nerve.
August 2008 - Pain is still severe and again goes back to doctor. And again. And again. Finally, he sees a doctor who says "This is not good" and sends him for nerve testing.
August 27, 2008 - Nerve test done. On this morning, Bear wakes up unable to grasp a pen. Results of nerve testing are not very good. Something is definitely wrong.
August 28, 2008 - Bear is at work when the clinic that did his nerve testing called. They ask him to go for an MRI right away. He calls me at work to tell me he is at hospital having MRI. I later go pick him up and he tells me that they told him he must go to another hospital for emergency surgery. A neurosurgeon will meet us there.
We speak to the neurosurgeon's resident at the hospital who tells us there is a mass growing on Bear's back, pressing against his spine. This is what is causing the pain in his arms and shoulders and the weakness that has started. I ask if it could be cancer since it is right behind where the cancer was removed in February.
They say it might very well be. Later, it is determined to be true.
August 29, 2008 - Bear was admitted into the hospital the night prior. He has surgery this morning and has the mass removed from his back. It was on his Thorastic bone. Surgery goes well and doctor determine the bones look good, nothing else seems to be growing here. Bear spends 1 week in the hospital and is released.
September 4, 2008 - Bear's recovery from surgery is slow. He is very weak in the legs and he has severe numbness in his hands and arms. Bear falls down a few times today, including one hard fall in the bedroom and another hard fall down a couple steps to the top landing. We go back to emergency and are there for hours before they come see us. He is given some T3 and sent home.
September 8, 2008 - Bear has his staples removed today and also has his first dose of radiation.
September 11, 2008 - Bear sees the neurosurgeon from his Feb. 15th surgery for follow up on that surgery. The neurosurgeon is surprised at how quickly and aggressively the cancer came back. He tells Bear that the fact it came back, and so quickly, is not a good sign. Statistically, people with Liposarcoma do not survive beyond 2 years once it returns.
September 24, 2008 - Bear has his last radiation treatment.
September 27, 2008 - Bear has CT scan done.
October 1, 2008 - Bear has bone scan done in the morning. In the afternoon he meets with a medical oncologist, who is to be his main cancer doctor. This doctor did not have any better predictions than the neurosurgeon on Sept. 11. Says we will make concrete plan of attack once the results of Bone Scan and CT scan come back. If nothing comes up on these scans, then he will just be monitored on a regular basis. If something shows up, then the most likely option will be heavy-duty chemo.
October 2, 2008 - Radiation oncologist calls and tells Bear that the CT scan results are back and they do not look good. There are spots on the liver and other parts of the body. He does not go into great detail and besides Bear was too upset to listen.
October 5, 2008 - Bear has severe pains in his back and severe weakness in his legs and arms. He asks me to massage his legs and in doing so I noticed his legs are swelling up. I take him to hospital, where we wait for 5+ hours to be called into the back. Morphine is administered and he is kept over night. This is the first night in several weeks that he has had sleep.
October 6, 2008 - I return to hospital to pick him up. They have decided to do Xrays and they hunt down the bone scan results. After several more hours of waiting, the results come back apparently "normal". The ER doctor gives us a copy of the bone scan results and I read some big medical words that give me the impression that things are not at all "normal"
October 9, 2008 - While I am at work, Bear reaches down to pick something up off the floor and falls. It takes him a while to get back up. Later that night, he falls while trying to come upstairs to bed. His legs are so weak that we can barely get him back onto the couch in the living room.
We debate whether to take him back to emergency but in the end we decide to wait til morning.
October 10, 2008 - We call Cancer Care in the morning and speak with the assistant of his medical oncologist. She suggests that we come to the hospital (different hospital) 's emergency room and that she will transfer the files down to the ER. Bear is so weak that we can barely get him to stand without falling and so we call an ambulance to come fetch him.
Shortly after our arrival at the hospital, a nurse leaves a file on the stretcher with Bear. I notice that it says something about growths on his T8 bones and in brackets (PT does not know this). Immediately, we knew things are wrong.
They take some blood and order an MRI. MRI results come back immediately, and they are not good.
The ER doctor takes us into a room and tells us that the MRI picked up a tumor on his lower back and spots on several bones in his back as well as on his liver and lungs. We are sent to yet another hospital to begin radiation again. At this point, surgery is the only other option but not recommended simply because there is too much to cut out. Chemo is postponed for the time being. Radiation this time will be more intensive and more compressed into a shorter period of time.
Bear asks the doctor, "am I just buying time?" and the doctor nods slowly and says "unfortunately, this is true."
Because of his weakness in the legs, he is kept in hospital overnight. Later it is decided that he will stay there for the weekend and possibly longer.
October 11, 2008 - Today I finally start the blog that I've been thinking of posting for a while. I will continue to update here.