Monday, July 18, 2011

Catching up

I want to keep up with this blog, but it seems like I never do! Anyway, in an effort to catch up, here is what has been happening. I traveled to New York City on the 4th of July. For several years now I have wanted to see the Macy's fireworks display "in person". It was not to be again this year. Even though I was on the tenth floor of my hotel in Brooklyn, I was too far away and facing east and the fireworks were west of my location! I had to go to bed a 9 PM anyway because I was going with my brother to the hospital early the next morning. Maybe next year for the fireworks!
My older brother, Doug, discovered that he had low iron when he went to give blood in May of this year. Further tests revealed that he had a tumor, a Leiomyosarcoma, which is a rare form of cancer that occurs in only about four of a million people. Doug had no symptoms of this disease other than the low iron. The slow growing tumor, resistant to chemo & radiation therapy, was about this size of his fist. There is no cure for Leiomyosarcoma, the only treatment is surgical resection. So on July 5th, at 4 AM, my brother, his wife & daughter and I were in a car traveling up FDR drive in Manhattan, en route to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. Dr. Murray Brennan, the leading sarcoma surgeon in the county would op
erate on my brother in an attempt to remove the tumor and save Doug's life. I remember the beautiful drive in the car in pre-dawn Manhattan, hoping that this wasn't Doug's last view of his favorite city.
Doug went into surgery around 7:30. We waited several hours until the doctor called us into a private room. Dr. Brennan told us (in his New Zealand accent) that he got the tumor, got the whole thing, and that no further treatment would be necessary. We were so happy and relieved. We found out days later, from his "fellow" surgeon, Dr. Jennifer LaFemina, that Dr. Brennan is retiring and only takes a very few cases. We feel like Doug won the lottery by going to Sloan-Kettering and getting the leading Leiomyosarcoma expert for a surgeon! After a week in the hospital, Doug has gone home to Virginia, with hopefully no recurrence of this dread cancer!