Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Livers are important (prayers requested AGAIN)

As if things couldn't get more stressful, we had a VERY stressful few days here in the Janney household. I know I have mentioned it in the past (and HERE, HERE, and HERE), but Phil's dad has heptacellular carcinoma more commonly known as Liver Cancer.

Not much has changed in the past. He gets some tumors, the doctors treat the tumors, and the tumors go away (thank goodness!). His spleen is a little swollen. The cirrhosis is getting a little worse. But overall, his health is good. His liver function has been nice and stable. For having liver cancer, he was doing well.

Lately Ed has been looking a little yellow. Phil's mom had noticed and a couple of people in their church had noticed. So last Monday at a regular doctor's appointment, they checked his liver function. The doctor's office called last Tuesday and his levels were elevated.

Not good.

Liver function blood tests look at a bunch of different things (bilirubin, a bunch of liver enzymes, etc.). So when the nurse that called Ed said his tests were abnormal, Ed asked which ones (he has one enzyme that is usually a little elevated but isn't a big deal). Her answer, "The LFT" aka the Liver Function Test. Ok... You are not helpful.

The tests were to be sent to his liver specialist who would then call him if anything was strange. No call came. Long story short, the tests didn't get sent and has to be sent again. Ed was instructed on Wednesday to get a paper copy to bring to his scan Monday morning. Rather than go find out his test results that day (Wednesday), he waited until Friday.

Thanks Ed.

So Friday finally rolls around and we find out his results... Not good. Almost everything was high. Enzymes that should be around 50 are in the 300s. Bilirubin should be under 1.2, it was over 10. Something wasn't right.

And my understanding is that once the liver function starts to go, they can't do the treatments for the tumors anymore.

Being totally freaked out, we turned to Dr. Google for some answers. What we found out was that either his cancer had progressed a lot or he had a blocked bile duct. That gave us some hope and we prayed like crazy that it was just the bile duct.

It is weird to hope for surgery.

We had to go all of last week and the weekend worried about what Monday's scan and the liver function tests would mean. Would it mean starting a really terrible experience of watching a family member suffer through the end stages of liver cancer? Or would it just be another procedure to deal with. On top of our own feelings about all of this, Ed has been dealing with this very differently than the rest of us. Everyone deals with things differently, I know. But it provides an extra special challenge when the person with access to all the information is happily ensconced in denial.

Anyway, Ed had his scan. They think he has scar tissue in or near his bile duct and that is causing the problems. None of his treated tumors have come back. The tiny tumors he has haven't grown very much. And he had one new tumor that is very small. The doctors also think Ed's tumors growth has changed and that he might slow down when it comes to tumor growth.

All in all, some pretty great news. We are so relieved. It is hard enough to deal with knowing a family member is going to be fighting an uphill battle with cancer. Throw grad school and dealing with my own cancer and upcoming surgery... It has been a challenging week.

Here is the latest prayer request:
- Prayers of thanks for good news about the liver function tests and the tumor growths.
- Prayers that the doctors are right and he gets fewer and fewer tumors.
- Prayers for guidance for the tumor board as they decide how to treat the existing tumors.
- Prayers for a successful procedure on the bile ducts and the tumors.

Sorry for the novella here.

Love, Mrs. Janney

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