The Starfish Project

The combined effort of our whole family.

Update on Mom – 1/22/09

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Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers, everyone.
My sister, Gretchen, and I took Mom to the doctor yesterday for an appointment with a neurosurgeon for a pre-consultation for Gamma Knife radiostatic surgery for a metastatic brain tumor (from her primary lung tumor).  When the doctor saw her yesterday, he was so shocked by her rapid decline (she can’t walk anymore, she is very swollen, etc.) that he sent us to the ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.
His thought was that the brain tumor has grown in size since her last MRI six weeks ago and that we needed to do something in a hurry.  He felt she needed to have invasive brain surgery to remove the tumor and the pressure it was putting on her brain – causing the weakness in her legs.  He did not feel she would be a good candidate for the Gamma Knife procedure.
So, we went to the ER and they admitted her.  A barrage of neurosurgeons saw her throughout the night last night doing various neorological tests (touching her nose, pushing her legs, pulling her arms forward, etc.).  She did well on all those tests.  They also sent for a ton of lab work, did a CT scan of her head, chest, and lower back.  They also did an MRI of her brain at 2 AM this morning.
Gretchen and I stayed until about 8:30 AM, but we were so wiped out we went home to rest and get ready for the next shift (Dad came in to relieve us).  When we left this morning, we hadn’t spoken to her neurosurgeon about the findings of any of the tests.
The doctor came in about an hour and a half ago and spoke with Dad.  The MRI showed that the tumor in Mom’s brain has actually shrunk since the last MRI from 2 cm to 1.5 cm.  The doctor didn’t know what to say about that.  Mom has elected not to do any chemotherapy or radiation.  Instead, she’s doing a lot of alternative cancer treatments with her Naturopathic Medical Doctor, Dr. Jason Porter.
Well, between all the prayer and her alternative treatments, her tumor is shrinking.  So, it looks like the Gamma Knife treatment is back on the table.  From what the doctor said, all the bad symptoms she’s currently having are from the steroids (Decadron) they gave her to reduce the swelling in her brain – not from the brain tumor.  Now that the tumor has shrunk by 25%, they seem to think that reducing the amount of steroids they’re giving her will get rid of these symptoms. and we can proceed with the Gamma Knife treatment. 
To be honest, I think Mom is somewhat of an anomaly to them.  I don’t think they see many people who aren’t doing conventional cancer treatments, so they really don’t know what to say about the naturopathic and alternative medicine she’s using to treat something as serious as lung cancer.  This will be her first conventional procedure since her diagnosis back in August.
They are looking at Monday as the day to do her Gamma Knife surgery.  This is a little freaky of a procedure, so we would appreciate your prayers for her.  But, it does have a 90% success rate in dealing with metastasized tumors to the brain.  Anyone interested in knowing more about Gamma Knife can read their website at
Again, thank you all so much for your prayers for Mom.  We’re certainly feeling them.
I’m planning on getting ready and going back to the hospital tonight to relieve Dad so he can come home and get some rest.  Her Neurosurgeon, Dr. Randall Porter, from Barrows Neurological Institute (I know it’s confusing that she has two doctors named “Dr. Porter”) told Dad her team of doctors will meet with her in her hospital room tomorrow at Noon to discuss her treatment plan for Monday.
I’ll post about that when we have all the details.

Written by Tracey

January 22, 2009 at 5:55 pm

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