The Wood Liver

I shared with a few other people that I had this very funny and distinct thought last week as I was buying a lottery ticket. I thought, “ok God. I’ve shown you that I can glorify you in times of trial and suffering. Now let me show you I can glorify you in times of blessing too.” I guess for a brief moment I was able to forget where I was and hope for something that I think would be better. And just as the heaviness of fear is lifting off of me, the sun is shining again, flowers are blooming, and I’m actually starting to plan things for a year from now, guess what?

Ya, I know… heart sunk too.

I mentioned I had been having symptoms that may indicate a gall bladder problem in my last letter. I don’t always mention every little thing because having cancer can make you hypersensitive to your body signals, and as in the case of my last biopsy, the concerns prove to be unfounded. Well, after four ‘attacks’, I finally found the surgeon was listening to me. He told me that he had seen me go through a radical bilateral mastectomy with no pain pills, so he knew when I told him that these attacks were so severe that I was doubled over in tears, that something was wrong. The oncologist’s NP sent me for an upper GI and x-ray. She said that because I had a CT scan in November, I couldn’t have gall stones because they wouldn’t have developed that fast, and the CT scan was clear. Well, the surgeon informed me that gall stones usually don’t show themselves on CT scans, and he sent me for an ultrasound. I also had a subclavian UTS to determine the viability of my veins, as I mentioned last letter.

Well, I saw Dr. Sales yesterday for my follow-up. I have several gall stones, and I am going to have to have my gall bladder removed before I can start the remaining 2 cycles of chemotherapy. I guess the attacks are caused by blockage from the stones, and can be potentially life threatening, especially with a chemotherapy challenged immune system. Yes….another surgery. The other bad news is that my veins are still blocked. It may be that the blood clots have calcified, and I may always have that blockage. And so, when and where he puts another port is going to be a precarious decision, with a higher risk now.

I talked with the ultrasonographer during the exams, which between the two of them, lasted nearly and hour. I was telling her how afraid I have been that my cancer would spread to my liver, as that is one of the sites breast cancer will spread, and my liver is on the same side as my cancer was. I have continued to have a dull and continual ache there since I was diagnosed. She reassured me with a rhetorical question- you just had a CT scan in November, right? Yes….I did. But even still, I have continued to have a nagging fear about liver mets. And I push it aside. I keep it to myself. I convince myself it’s irrational and that I’m just hypersensitive now. Well, when Dr. Sales was talking to me yesterday, I sensed an urgency in him that didn’t quite seem warranted. I mean, gall stones are not so life threatening that immediate surgery is required (like with appendicitis). I also sensed there was something he wasn’t telling me. So first thing this morning I went to pick up copies of my UTS reports. It’s something I would have done anyway, just out of curiosity about the size of the gall stones……

The UTS of my chest demonstrated that there is “no flow identified within the left jugular vein”. I guess I’m no target for vampires, huh? That in itself is pretty scary. But even scarier was this: “there is a small 1 centimeter diameter hyperechoic focus on the right lobe of the liver…blah blah blah…..certainly its current appearance on the sonogram suggests a cavernous hemangioma. The lack of other similar lesions is somewhat against metastatic disease but does not completely exclude the possibility.” I cried all the way home, and am tearing up just having to even share this. I don’t know what the hell it is, or what this means. All I know is that the fear is so profound, it is just like that first week after I was diagnosed. I found myself having the same response to it too- I turned up my Third Day CD so loud that the fearful thoughts were drowned out by totally abandoned worship of God.

I looked up “cavernous hemangioma of the liver” and discovered that it is a benign tumor of blood vessels. But even if just that, and not a liver met, that in itself is potentially life threatening, as it can burst and I continue to be on medication to prevent blood clotting. An internal bleed that isn’t caught early could prove to be fatal.

So I don’t know what else to say- my words are as raw as that first desperate plea for prayer that I sent almost a year ago. I have an appointment with Dr. Patel next week, and I am sure we will be discussing this. I think he will be sending me for further tests, as I won’t have peace of mind until a liver met is completely ruled out. But my appointment is a week away…..and a week is a long time to sit and wonder……

Nevertheless, I know that God will comfort me and I take refuge in trusting Him. But, please make your prayers a little louder…..

And I’ll be writing as soon as I know for certain what all of this means.

In Jesus~


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