Thanks to Susie for a thoughtful guest blog on Mums; Susie and Jerry have been amazing caregivers this week, waiting on mom hand-and-foot, keeping her fed and her dressing changed... we are so grateful for their hospitality as this week comes to a close.
Between Mom's resolve to eat and get better and Jerry and Susie's hard work, this week has paid off. I talked with Mom's primary doctor at Mayo this morning and he informed me that her bilirubin count has come down, significantly. Woo! It has dropped from a scary 14.5 to a FIVE. She is nearly normal when it comes to being full of yellow!
What this means is that both her internal stent and her external drain are working. Although it seems like a small little thing, this is so important to next steps for treatment. It's also a relief because it took a maddening amount of surgeries, procedures and poking around to get where we are today. Our fear was that she'd have to undergo another round of surgeries to get her bile moving. Someone has decided mom had enough of that -- someone perhaps thought she'd had enough yellow for now.
Not to say that this won't remain an issue, because it may. However, what great Friday news to wake up to.
Mom's doctor is amazing. His main reason for phoning was to check on her condition -- both physical and mental -- and he was very pleased to know that she's getting rest and gaining weight. On that note, here is the next plan of action (POA):
Saturday: Dad will travel to Denver and see Mom for the first time in nearly TWO weeks. Have you guys ever been separated that long?
Sunday: Mom and Dad fly out really, really early to Minneapolis. They'll catch the shuttle to Rochester.
Monday: Mom will have new blood work and MRI and CT scans during the morning. She and my dad will meet with her doctor and then the surgeon. The tumor is called a hilar or klatskin type (at least, that's what docs believe). Hilar or Klatskin tumors are the most common bile duct cancers. These tumors are located where the right and left hepatic bile ducts meet. The hope is that by EOD, a decision will be made about whether or not she is a candidate for resection surgery. Resection surgery is very different than a liver transplant and has a much different outcome. Click here for more information about resection surgery. If the surgeon determines that she is not a candidate, there will be a few "next phases" of discussion for treatment options. Next, a liver transplant would be up for discussion. If that is disregarded, Mayo is expert at chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT) for this type of cancer. Click here to read more about all treatments available at Mayo.
PDT is a treatment that uses a photosensitizing drug and red laser light to kill cells, usually cancer cells. It's a two-part treatment. First, the drug is administered intravenously. The drug is absorbed especially by fast-growing cells. Two days later, an endoscope is inserted into the body and through it, the doctor shines a specific kind of laser light (different from radiation therapy or heat-producing lasers) onto the diseased tissue. The combination of the laser and the drug causes a chemical reaction that destroys the targeted cells. PDT can be repeated without harming normal body tissues and can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Mom would have to avoid sun if this is the treatment choice.
Anyway, a bit of happy news for my less-yellow mums.