Dear Friends and Family,
Today was the day we have all been waiting for. While the feedback from the doctors has been good up to this point, as a medical student, I realize that nothing is as important to a diagnosis as the final pathology report. This report reveals significant prognostic information by defining the extent of disease. It looks mainly at the size of the tumor (which seemed large on CT) and how far, if any, it has invaded into nearby tissues. Staging for my type of cancer, renal cell carcinoma, is from type 1 (best prognosis) to 4 (worst prognosis).
As I went into this day, after much prayer, I was a bit scared, yet somewhat at peace that the Lord would take care of me and my family no matter what. I had been trying to second guess the result too, thinking that with so much bleeding it must be stage 2 or 3. I had also recently felt that maybe the added weakness, nausea, and vomiting might have something to do with it.
At 11 am this morning, I went into the urologist's office with Jennifer. It was only a few minutes after arrival and the nurse brought in the path report to us. We both struggled to read it in somewhat of a panic to find the "magic number". Five typed filled pages of various minutia stared us in the face. We had difficulty finding the staging number. Fortunately, it was a second later and the doctor came in telling us "good news" pointing out the stage 1 in the report (not exactly obvious even to a fourth year med student :-)). Stage 1 is as good as it gets with a survival rate of 80-100% over the next 5 years. (Unfortunately, never a sure thing with any cancer).
Right now, as I sit here and write this, I feel at peace, I feel thankful, and I feel very humbled. I realize this day that many of those who sit where I do are not so fortunate. Christ has chosen to give me the best Christmas present of my life on Christmas Eve 2009. I feel so truly blessed! It will also take some time for me to fully absorb this last week and what it means to my future as both a doctor and a Christian. I know the impact will be enormous.
Thank you, all of you, for your prayers and words of encouragement. I stand in awe of how many friends we truly have. I will forever be grateful. God bless you all and have a please safe and Merry Christmas 2009!!!!