We had to fill in time yesterday before Bren’s clinic appointment. Tyz and I went down to the reflection room to meditate while the boys got comfy on one of the cream couches in the clinic waiting room. Bren called us back upstairs just as we made ourselves comfortable on the meditation cushions. They were ready for us in the consulting room.
Tyz and I quickly made our way to the elevator just in time to ride up with DR Ortho, Brendan’s orthopedic surgeon. In the last 2 years, this amazing man has given Brendan two life-saving surgeries. We introduced ourselves and had a very brief elevator chat.
Elevator chats are the main reason doctors take the stairs – this is something I noticed after spending week upon week at the hospital. Dr Ortho smiled at Tyz and told her that there was no denying who her mum was – I told him we would see him in the clinic in a few minutes as we all stepped out of the elevator.
Bades directed me to room 3, where I met Brendan and waited for the team to gather. We would bring the kids in when we had a better idea of what this consult was about. Dr Ortho’s CNC-S came in first and told us she was not sure why we were there? She left, frazzled, to find files in the staff area. We heard Dr Chemo arrive and ask CNC-S why Brendan was here. Because this appointment had not been scheduled by his staff, he didn’t know what was happening either. He caught Bren’s eye and said he’d be back shortly. I went and got the kids and brought them into room 3, as it looked like this was just going to be a quick check-up and go.
Half an hour later, we all ended up in room 3 together. Dr Chemo and his CNC-K, Dr Ortho and his CNC-S, an intern (I think) who we hadn’t seen before, Bren, the two kids and me. Nine of us in all, quite a crew! Dr Chemo was happy to see Tyra and Baden as he had not met them before.
He may have been the only one, but Dr Ortho knew why we were there. Before he could tell us much more at this appointment as the MRI films had to be double-checked. It was explained that the hot spots that had shown up around Bren’s residual (although not impressive) needed some more consideration.
There are two likelihoods to consider:
The first: being quite likely, is that what is showing up are nerve endings that have healed with a small bulb-like shape at the end. This is not uncommon post-amputation.
The second: the possibility of disease recurrence, which will mean more surgery to remove spots, resulting in Brendan losing maybe another centimetre of his remaining femur. There would be about 3 weeks of recovery time and probably a new prosthetic fitting with ongoing recovery to get walking again. Because they feel Brendan is moving forward in leaps and bounds in his wellbeing – everyone is hoping that this is not the option that has to be taken.
Chemo at home will continue as normal regardless.
Baden listened intently. As the doctors discussed Bren’s MRI results and action to be taken, Tyra had excused herself to go to the bathroom. She returned to catch the tail end of the conversation.
“Do you understand all of what I just said?” Dr Ortho asked Baden kindly.
Bades said he did. “Well, do you think you can explain it all to your sister later for me?” He said, smiling at Tyra.
Bades thought for a minute and said, “I’m not sure, maybe.”
“Good.’ Dr Ortho replied.
The conversation turned to Brendan’s amputation and when it had been performed. Without looking at his notes, Dr Ortho thought it was around March 2015, Dr Chemo agreed, I said I thought it was the 30th of March, and Tyz reminded everyone that it had been Easter. Her contribution surprised the team, and they were impressed with it. They were impressed with both 12-year-olds in the room who showed wisdom and understanding beyond their years.
It was time for Bren to drop his pants so that his leg could be checked. There is no room for modesty in these situations. The consult and the rhythm of the room continued.
“When I started treating sarcoma cancer many years ago, the patient either cured or died – there was no middle ground. Now more people are living with cancer than ever before.” Dr Ortho said, mainly for Tyra and Baden’s benefit as he examined their dad.
When he finished the examination, Dr Ortho told Bren he would ring him over the weekend to let him know what the MRI revealed. He smiled at Bades, gave Tyz a friendly, grandfatherly pat on the head and left. After another quick chat, Dr Chemo and CNC-K then said their goodbyes – they are always the last to leave a consult.
It was interesting to see Tyra and Baden interact and take everything in throughout the consult. They needed to hear Bren’s treatment being discussed openly in front of them by his doctors. It gave them a better understanding of what is going on. We have always been age-appropriately honest with them about Brendan’s cancer. They are the chief members of his support team.
We were confident that all was well, even if there was still an anxious wait to hear the MRI results. On the way home, we called into Max Brenner to celebrate the end of a long couple of days with chocolate!
Update: Dr Ortho rang this morning to say that his team think that evidence of the hot spots on the MRI being disease recurrence is underwhelming, as far as they are concerned. So these spots will be watched carefully and another MRI will be taken in three months.
We are so relieved.
This was good news, and we couldn’t wait to tell the kids. Cancer has changed our lives dramatically. We don’t have the luxury of being a carefree, spontaneous family anymore. Tyra and Baden have to live around scheduled appointments, long periods away from their parents, and the fear that their dad might die. That’s too much for the average adult to cope with. Their bravery and acceptance of what life has thrown at them break my heart. They have not been given a lot of good news over the last two years we are excited to share this news with them.
Life is good and hope is limitless.