As you know, Bill had a biopsy done on Monday afternoon. The actual procedure went smoothly but unfortunately Bill experienced major swelling in the brain during recovery. The swelling caused an increase in intracranial pressure (the pressure inside the skull) which resulted in a sudden and significant change in his symptoms. The doctors are still struggling to get it under control. Currently he is having a great deal of difficulty communicating as he can’t ‘find’ the right words. This means that what he says often doesn’t make a lot a sense. He is aware of it and finds it really frustrating that he is unable to say what he wants. He understands almost everything that is said to him, but his memory has also been greatly affected which is causing additional complications and confusion. This morning he seemed a little better. He was headache free and feeling pretty good. A physio assisted him in a short walk and then he was transferred to a wheel chair so we were able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes. It’s amazing how you appreciate the little things like peaceful moment together in the sun during a time like this.
Despite a bad headache returning this evening we are remaining cautiously optimistic that things will improve throughout the week. The biopsy result should be in by next week and then the team of doctors will determine the best course of treatment.
Thank you all for the continued thoughts and prayers. The support from family and friends has been incredible and we are very grateful.
I wanted to update things as we head into the biopsy on Monday (July 25th). Everything we have been doing until now has being working towards this ever-so-important event. The plan will be to place a small needle into my brain allowing them to take a sample of my brain tissue. The brain tissue should tell them everything they need to know about the tumour and how treatable it is and what steps will be next.
Once the biopsy is complete we are looking at about four to six weeks before starting into treatment. During that time they will analyze the tumour right down to its DNA level in order to create the most detailed plan of attack. I hope to be back with an update later next week after with preliminary ideas as to what we’re up against. I will certainly try to keep everyone in the loop.
The main problem with keeping everyone informed is that the process of writing my blog is challenging. Typing can be ridiculously challenging and that is just the way this tumour is affecting my brain functions. It is frustrating and time consuming but it seems to be testing my mental fortitude and I have never backed away from a good challenge.
Thank you again for all of the well wishes. I know that I’ve mentioned it a few times but the support remains a hope and inspiration for both Maureen and myself. And I keep remembering my college and friend Reggie who said: “Remember: You’re Bill effing Hann”. And for that I not let it win.
And the MRI is complete. It is the first very critical stage towards planning their attack on this tumour. The MRI itself was strait forward – they put you in the MRI tube and slide you down inside for about 45 minutes while they take pictures. The machine is surprisingly loud – it’s like having a jackhammer cycling on and off as it takes pictures of the body and, more specifically for me, my brain.
Obviously what we’re after is information. So far it is preliminary but Dr. Hentschel was kind enough to call us after the MRI to give us his take. As I mentioned the other day Dr. Hentschel is the Head of Neurosurgery in Victoria and will factor prominently as he and his team determine how they proceed with their attack against this tumor. We are still in the early stages but each piece of information gets us closer to the final treatment plan. Next will be a careful analysis of the MRI followed by the biopsy which should take place around the 25th of July.
So for us this means that we have a lot of work ahead. There is no doubt that this is serious business – brain cancer is tricky and there are a lot of intricate factors playing out. This cancer surrounds a lot of critical parts of the brain and early indications say that it will be a matter of managing the disease as opposed to curing it all together.
Emotionally I would say that I’m in a pretty good place. The support that has been offered by friends and family is unbelievable and we’re going to take the bulls by the horns.
Today was a promising day. We had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Hentschel who is the Head of Neurosurgery in Victoria. When it comes right down to it, he will be the guy with the knife in his hand when the time comes to slice me open. He left us with very good impression, instilling confidence while taking the time to answer our questions. Dr. Hentschel was the first to admit that the CT scan is basic in nature and that he cannot give any specifics – that will be provided by the MRI and further by the biopsy. In his opinion, there is a chance that the tumour is of the slower growing variety, which is good news. Our research would indicate that something that has been growing at a slower rate will be easier to treat and be easier to manage long term. Our MRI is scheduled for Friday and that should be our next chance to see what we’re facing.
Thank you again to everyone who offers words of encouragement – I cannot tell you how much we value that.
I felt good today. We did meet with one of the doctors today but there was not a great deal of new information. After a bit of sugar-coating we got to the point that there is a big tumour and yes it will not be the easiest to remove but we’d pretty much determined that already. I’m hoping that tomorrow’s meeting with the next neurosurgeon should be a bit more informative. That will lead to the follow up appointment with that same neurosurgeon on Friday and we hope for more details at that point.
In the meantime I have to get to the mountain of paperwork. Getting sick requires a lot of work and a sharp pencil.
In all of this Maureen has been tasked with the job of wife, mother, appointment scheduler and everything else that will be falling on her plate as we proceed. I cannot imagine having to go this with anyone else and her courage and poise have already been demonstrated front and centre.
And so we learn more and more about our new life. In reality we know very little about what we are facing. We know that the tumour is big and we know that the tumour is not along the edge of the skull – those are two strikes against us. This is reality, not something to attempt to bring the general morale down. I really appreciate all the people with well wishes. This is a very difficult time as we attempt to make some sense of all of this and the words of encouragement really help. Maureen and I read them and thank everyone for taking the time to write.
We went to Saltspring today with the family. The kids, as always, had a great time. This morning was challenging as the few days of hardcore fatigue were catching up with me by late afternoon. But by my nap around 2:30pm I was feeling a lot better. The kids and I went for a walk on the ferry in the fresh air and Maureen got a few minutes of peace time. By this evening I was feeling pretty good (considering).
I’m hoping to catch up on some sleep tonight and get back on a more regular schedule of my eight hours a night.