Q: Did we hear back on the pathology regarding the cancer?
A: The greatest news is that Sirri's bone marrow is clean. Wooho! We are so thankful. The pathology of the tumor itself is the same as what Dr. Meyers had told us. Half of the cells were ganglioneuroblastoma, meaning benign. The other half of the cells we neuroblastoma, meaning malignant. That we already knew (or had a pretty good guess on) from the first frozen biopsy that was performed immediately after the tumor was removed. Even though her tumor did contain malignant cancer cells, we are not having to do any further therapy (chemo, radiation etc.) because they were able to remove the tumor in its entirety. The other test that we were waiting to hear back on was a test performed on Sirri's urine. What they were looking for were elevated levels of specific chemicals. This gives us an indication of how aggressive the malignant cells are. The doctors were all very optimistic - due to the fact that she has been very asymptomatic - that her urine would come back without any of the elevated chemicals. It turns out that her urine did contain these elevated levels of chemicals. So what does that mean? It means that the possibility of this type of cancer returning is more likely than had her levels not been elevated (it doesn't mean likely, just more likely.) It also means that there is a chance that the cancer has spread to another part of her body. Again, the doctors are optimistic that this will not be the case, but they have scheduled a very specialized full body scan to be sure. After drinking some dye, the scan will light up any neuroblastoma cells that might be elsewhere in her body.
Q: What kind of follow up will Sirri have in the future?
A: Sirri will need to have CT scans and urine checks every three months for the first 1-3 years. It will then taper off to every six months for the next year or two, then taper again to only once a year after that.
Q: What in the world do I write in her medical history now? It used to be so simple. Check no for everything. Now?
A: Still fairly simple. Well, short anyway. Hopefully I can always remember this. Guess that's why I'm writing it down. Here it is: Stage 1 neuroblastoma, fully resected, no other therapy.
Q: Sirri is the third person in our ward to be diagnosed with cancer in the last year. Could it be something "in the water?"
A: Sirri's type of cancer is not in any way related to the type of cancer that Senny or Pam Lynn had. That is the first indicator that these cases are not correlated. Second, there have been no findings that link environmental factors to the cause of Sirri's cancer. It is just one of those things that "happen." Dr. Barnette also said that anytime you have a group of people who live so close together and share an intimate connection (church groups, schools etc.) people always tend to group the cases together and see things differently. He compared it to buying a new car or being pregnant. All of sudden you look around and it seems that everyone has the same car as you or that every woman in your town is pregnant. His explanations made sense to me and I appreciated him taking the time to answer that random question for me. I have had many people joke around that there is in fact, something "in our water" and it was starting to make me feel a bit responsible in some way for my daughter's cancer. Now, when people say that I can feel peace in my heart that it isn't the case.