Emily and I [Miles] landed safely into New York this past Wednesday. Upon arriving at the Courtyard Marriott in the Upper East Side, we were welcomed by Emily’s parents, Shelley and Kevin.
On Thursday, Emily and her family posse walked to Mount Sinai Hospital and met with Dr. Raja Flores. After numerous phone consultations, it was the first time Emily had met her surgeon in person. He was simply amazing. He exuded honesty, confidence, empathy, and inspiration. When he left the room, Emily beamed and said, “I feel so blessed to have him as my doctor.”
However, Dr. Raja Flores did alter the plans slightly. While reviewing her past scans and tests, he noticed that her pleural lining (the membrane that surrounds the outside of the lung – like the ozone for Earth) was never actually biopsied and tested for cancer. Rather, it was assumed to be malignant after it illuminated on the PET scan. In most cases, this is an accurate assumption; however, Emily’s response to the chemotherapy treatment has been simply remarkable. No cancer is now shown in the pleural lining. Dr. Flores believes that her response might be too remarkable and perhaps there never was cancer in the lining. Maybe it was just fluid/inflammation that was lighting up the PET scan; maybe she was over-diagnosed. So before he opens Emily up and removes her entire right lung and lining with it, he has scheduled a biopsy of the pleural lining.
In all likelihood, the lining will come back positive and we will proceed with the same surgery as planned. But if the tests come back negative, the surgery will be dramatically reduced to a lobectomy where only one or two lobes of the right lung are removed.
What this means:
The intense, significant surgery has been postponed a week.
Emily is scheduled to have a VATS pleural lung biopsy this coming Monday (February 4th) at Mount Sinai at 7am EST. This is not a typical, easy biopsy, as she will be under anesthesia. Dr. Flores will insert a camera into her chest and visually inspect the lining of her lung as well as take several samples for testing. Emily will be in the hospital overnight for recovery. Several days later, once testing is complete, Dr. Raja Flores will finalize the type of surgery required. That surgery will take place the following Monday, February 11th.
Following our meeting with Dr. Raja Flores, Emily was able to meet a former lung cancer patient, Phyllis Epner, who was traveling from Arizona to meet with Dr. Raja Flores for an annual check-up. Eight years ago at age 67, Phyllis underwent a complete removal of the right lung, right pleural lining, lymph nodes, and five ribs. Today, she is vibrant, energetic, and oh yeah, CURED. Upon meeting Emily, Phyllis hugged her and said, “I know exactly where you are and what you are going through.” She then grabbed Emily and stared at her in the face and continued, “You are going to beat this and be cured just like me.” For more than an hour, Phyllis and her husband, Michael, prepared us for the upcoming surgery and provided many tips and suggestions. As a caretaker, I found it invaluable. As a patient, Emily found incredible inspiration in her story.
As for this weekend, Kevin, Shelley, Emily, and I will explore the new neighborhood and rest up for Monday. Kindly, New York has greeted our visit with a cold front that even has the former Idahoans’ teeth chattering. Yet, Emily continues to bundle up and bear it for her daily multi-mile walks.
I hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl. Here’s to Alicia Keys singing the National Anthem in less than 2 minutes and 15 seconds (I love prop bets) and to some awesome commercials!
Love to all. Live in the moment.
Miles and Emily