Category Archives: Initial Diagnosis

Pathology Results Arrive

Today we received news that the tumor was a Grade IV Glioblastoma.  This is pretty much the worst case.  For this type of tumor prognosis is poor, with a median survival time of approximately 14 months.

View the Pathology Report

Now that we know what we are dealing with, the next step is to determine the treatment.

Writing this post in hindsight, I’ve since learned how to better look at the grim statistics.  The book “AntiCancer: A New Way of Life“, breaks it down pretty well.  In summary if the median survival time is only 14 months, that means half the people live longer than 14 months.  Given that I’m young and in otherwise good health, I should be in the half that lives longer.

Second, when dealing with survival curves, the right side of the curve naturally extends beyond 14 months and it can extend to a considerable length of time.  There are a small number of people at the tail end of the curve that survive years with this disease.  It’s my goal to be on the long tail of the curve.

Meeting with Dr. Smith

At this point it had been 3 weeks since my first MRI.  In hindsight I probably should have pushed harder to get in sooner, but I don’t think the gravity of the situation had fully sunk in yet.

March 19, 2012 was my first meeting with Dr. Mark Smith from Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates.  He reviewed the MRI results, and recommended I have surgery to remove the tumor.  He said he did quite a few of these a year (I think the number was over 50) and said that my tumor would be relatively easy to remove.  He turned out to be right, he did an excellent job.  I’ve had the post MRI images reviewed by Doctors and MD Anderson, Duke, and Wake Forest.  They all said the surgery went extremely well.

He also scheduled another MRI for the same day to see how much the tumor had changed in the past 3 weeks.

 

MRI Results

Today I learned the MRI had revealed a tumor.  After reading the report, there were a few good things in it (you have to always look for the positive).

  • It was on the surface of the brain
  • It was located in the left frontal lobe
  • It was relatively small at 2.8 x 2.1 cm
Here is an image of the tumor.

After learning of these results an appointment was scheduled with Dr. Mark Smith from Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates.

At this point I was hoping the tumor would be found to be benign and they could just take it out.

First MRI

Tonight I had my first MRI.  I’m not claustrophobic, so it really wasn’t a big deal.      The process took about an hour, they did 2 sets of scans, first without contrast and the second with the contrast.  The contrast is used to more clearly see the picture.

I asked the person running the MRI if she saw anything, but of course she said she couldn’t comment, and that once the results were in they’d get back to me.

Visit with my Physician

On February 23rd 2012 I saw my regular physician, Dr. Marvin Dare, and told him the story.  After a routine examination, he suspected one of two things:

  • I had a seizure
  • I lost consciousness due to blood not getting to my brain fast enough.

He immediately scheduled an MRI and a series of tests on my heart.

The Start of the Journey

I’m obviously posting this after the fact, but February 15th was when everything began.  That night I had a seizure.  My wife was at work, so nobody was around to see what happened.  All I remember was waking up on the floor vomiting.  At the time I was completely out of it and couldn’t remember any of the details about how I got there or the events before.  In hindsight I should have gone to the emergency room, but I was so out of it, I thought I had food poising for whatever reason.  The next morning I was still pretty out of it.  My entire body was sore, and I could tell I bit my tongue.  Again, I probably should have went to the emergency room, but I thought I just blacked out or something and scheduled an appointment with my regular physician on February 23 2012.

In hindsight it’s clear I should have taken it more seriously than I did at the time.   I had never had a seizure before and had been in good health, so I really didn’t think it was any big deal.  Boy was I wrong.