Thursday, January 6, 2011
The biopsy procedure went well but getting the results ended up apparently being complicated. The doctors originally said it would be a day or two but then the neurosurgeon stated that something was unusual about it and that they were going to send it up to Austin’s more premier lab which was in Austin. The guy there apparently felt the need to pass it to a world class lab at John Hopkins where the guy there felt the need to pass it up to the lead guy. While it was flattering that some of the world’s best were giving me their attention, it wasn’t really encouraging.
The doctors, either in person or by this brochure, would explain that this is a very rare cancer. It occurs 7 out it 100,000 people and where I had it was 3 in a million. My friend Todd, a mathematic precisionist who always got stuck on the fact that people would use phrases like very random or rather unique (those being absolute terms) remarked that clearly I was the uniquest of his friends. The reality of this at first didn’t sink in as to what this translated to. I’d always been different than most people and most of the time it had panned out to my benefit. Having been the poor kid from Mexico who had now traveled all over the world, having grown up from a working family where education was not emphasized so much as work and taking the step to graduate at the top of my high school class and suma cum laude from college, having always been “different” having a rare cancer didn’t really register initially; it would just be one more way that I was different. The doctors explained that there were no known causes/connections to this either genetic or environmental. My brother Alonso joked that he’d always wanted a mind like mine but now he was not quite as sure.
Research would eventually show me that science was politely saying that we’re flying blind here. In one sense that was literal, if surgery were to get done, the tumor is visually no different than the rest of the brain and so what they would do be guided by a computer in a 10-14 hour procedure where they literally removed a small piece of the brain at a time and then did at immediate biopsy, registering it as cancer. Once the piece they removed was no longer cancer, they would stop. A doctor would explain to me that the brain had more ‘room to spare’ along the edges but more ‘critical centers’ near the center which is where my tumor was. If it was on the edge of the brain
The other thing they were saying politically correct is that we aren’t quite sure what we’re doing here. If you check the reputable websites, they all say something along the lines of “treatment for this is not agreed upon,” “how to treat this is controversial.” Like the rest of my life and personality, it will not be clean cut and dry.