Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Alright folks, I’m late posting.  Here’s the update:

The surgery was successful.  They removed the tumor, which was enveloped around one kidney (which was also removed.)  That kidney was the only organ they removed, thank God.    They also laid what is called a HAM grid over the surgical site, internally.  The HAM grid is a net made of small catheters. (Think of it as a city street map.)  The radiation oncologist decides which of the catheter routes (s)he will use to specifically direct the radiation to where it needs to go.  The catheters exit the body near the surgical site.  Laying the grid didn’t take very long at all.  About 5 or 6 last night, they moved Mom into a regular room.

This morning, they were scheduled to run a simulation of the radiation treatments through the grid.  When they got her to oncology, they discovered that the external end of the catheters was contaminated with bodily fluid, the source/reason why of which is still uncertain.  One CT scan later, they decided that Mom would need surgery again to remove the current catheters and put new ones in place.  The earliest open OR is tomorrow, but they are trying to get her in today.  I gather that this is one decision where we won’t know until they come to get her, so look to the twitter feed for up-to-date info on that one.

Mom is in a lot of pain, and had the nurse call Dad about 5 AM.  They met with the pain management folks and got that figured out.  She is getting some anti-anxiety meds also, which will help Mom a lot. 
One of the problems is that Mom deals with pain through a lot of meditation and breathing exercises.  But right now, her lungs are packed with towels around them, as part of the surgery / radiation / surgery plan.  So, she can’t breathe deep, and it’s keeping her tense.  Thus, anti-anxiety meds to the rescue. 

Another difficulty for Mom is that she knows that she won’t be able to get out of the bed until Friday at the earliest.  She wants to be moving, and being pushed around in the bed doesn’t count.

The rest of us are okay.  Yesterday was a long day for all of us.  Dad, Mags, & I had been up since 3 or 4, so when we got back to the room about 7 last night, we crashed.  Dad came back over about 5:30 AM, but Mags & I didn’t make it back until 8:45.

Also, if you want to cheer Mom up with a card, you can mail it to:
Cleveland Clinic
[mom's name] 
Care of H71-24
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hi! I'm here to drop off a tumor.

Mom didn't sleep last night.  I woke up at 3 AM to hear her in the shower.  We both went ahead and walked down to the lobby to wait for Dad and Maggie to get dressed and ready.  By 5, we had congregated downstairs and began the day.

 We walked from the hotel to the surgery center; that was nice.  Mom was in good spirits.  She walked up to the desk to check in and said "Hi!  I'm here to drop off a tumor."  About 15 minutes later, they called her and a +1 back to pre-op.  (We managed to keep from crying up til then. I told you guys, social crier.  Somebody started leaking and I had to join in.)

The waiting area is the whole floor of the surgery center.  They've got it arranged in little walled-off areas with furniture and a tv in each one.  We snagged one pretty quick.  Free coffee and latte's out of a neat machine nearby.

Mom's been in for almost 2 hours, and there's still no information on the board, so we're going a little stir crazy.  I may make Maggie put down her Nora Roberts novel and help me find a bagel or something.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

T Minus 9 Hours and Counting

So, folks, we’ve arrived at the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse.  Mom’s taken her prep meds and the rest of us are ordering chinese food.  This whole “My mom has cancer and is going under the knife” thing has gotten increasingly real as the day has progressed.  I had re-done my ipod last night and in redoing my playlists I inadvertently set out a bunch of sappy or sad songs.  That made for an interesting car ride, let me tell you.

We stopped about 2 hours from Cleveland for lunch.  Of things I’m most sad about right now, the fact that Wendy’s was the last meal Mom will eat for 5 days is the biggest.

Dad has re-read the map and hospital guide four or five times, and is walking around with the “Helpful Information for the Day of Surgery” brochure in his shirt pocket.

The plan:  Tomorrow, at 5 AM, all seven of us will do the space-shuttle walk from the hotel to the hospital.  Mom will go to anesthesia and we’ll go to the waiting room.  That may be the last chance we get to talk to her until Friday.  (That part freaks me out more than a little.)

I’ll post instructions for people to send Mom cards or stuff tomorrow.  Cleveland Clinic is anti-laytex, so don’t send balloons or anything too big or exotic.  In truth, you might do better to wait to send stuff to the house once she comes home.
Don’t forget to follow @gerrystumor for up-to-date updates.
More tomorrow.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Instructions

Ladies and Gentlemen:

For those who are confused by the “post a comment” process, please follow the instructions below:
  1. Think about what you want to write. The readership of this blog will obviously be in the millions, so there is some pressure here to be witty.
  2. Before you set fingers-to-keypad: Blogspot will require you to have an account prior to letting you post. (As seen in the “Select Profile” drop-down list next to “Comment As”) For most of you, a Google Account is your best option. (Please note: A Gmail account is the same thing as a Google Account.)
    1. If you already have a Gmail account or Google Account: Write your comment. Then select Google Account from the drop-down list and hit the post comment button. That button will take you to another page which will ask you to sign in using your Google Account. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be redirected to the blog page again with your comment and the option to edit it or post it as is. Hit “Post Comment” and feel good.
    2. If you DO NOT have a Gmail or Google account: Follow the above instructions. Select Google Account from the drop-down list and click “Sign in.” As above, you’ll be re-directed to the Google sign-in page. Below the large “Sign in” part of the page, there is a smaller box which reads: “Don’t have a Google account? Sign up here.” Click the link and follow the instructions. Ultimately, you’ll get an account and then be able to go back to the blog and post your comment.
  3. If you simply cannot figure it out, or lack the interest in doing so, you may email me your comment and I will post it at my earliest convenience.
  4. If you lack even that option, you probably aren’t reading this post, so it doesn’t matter.
Thanks! - les

Friday, July 8, 2011

Twitter Difficulties

Alright, folks. The twitter feed should show up right at the top of the page, below the title. If it doesn't, blame Internet Explorer and use Firefox instead, or perhaps Safari.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


So, in short: Mom (Gerry) has cancer. She has what is called a liposarcoma, a fatty-tissue tumor that is taking up a huge amount of space in her torso and displacing her internal organs. It is malignant and must come out.

We are travelling to the Cleveland Clinic next week so that she can have surgery to remove the tumor. It is a serious operation with potential long-term consequences for Mom’s life, as we don’t know yet if the surgeons will have to remove any organs along with the tumor. The schedule will be: surgery on Monday morning, radiation for two days (or so) and then another surgery to remove the radiation catheters. Total time in the hospital is looking like two weeks, followed by many weeks of at-home recovery.

Suffice it to say that we’re anxious and worried. But, we’re maintaining a positive attitude. (Some of us better than others: I’m positive that I’m scared shitless.) My grandparents are coming to Kentucky any day now to provide support. GrandBetty is a retired nurse and cancer survivor, and is used to riding herd on the Feamster clan, so her help will be essential in the weeks to come.

For all of you who would like to stay in the know: check this blog. I will update as much and as often as possible. Also, I’ve incorporated a Twitter feed, which you can view at the top of the page. Twitter is necessarily shorter, but quicker, and will allow me to give frequent updates from the waiting room during surgery. (We’ll find out quick if I can pace and type.)

Ground rules up front:

  1. I can’t spell. Sad but true. Deal.
  2. Stress reduces the efficiency of my internal filter. I’ll try, but if the occasional swear word slips by, or I come off less-than-appropriate, forgive me.
  3. I am many things, and a social crier is one of them. No crying. Consider this baseball.
  4. If you need more info than I write, or can’t wait for a post, you can call me. I will have my cell next week, although I don’t know what kind of coverage I’ll get.
  5. Just as this blog serves to pass information along from Mom to y’all, it also lets y’all leave messages for Mom (and the rest of us, too, I suppose.). I’ll pass on whatever comments etc. to Mom as appropriate. (I guess the rule here is that you shouldn’t post anything here you wouldn’t say to Mom herself.)

Feel free to post questions and comments below.