We met with Samantha's surgeon Dr. Smith today. I was really nervous before going in, I tend to get really tense when we talk to the doctors. It is funny because in every other aspect of my life I want to know all the details, but in this situation, I just don't want to know the details unless they are good! :) However, as soon as I met Dr. Smith I felt calm, he was really wonderful and told us everything I needed to know without scaring the crap out of me!
Good news first, they are fairly certain that the tumor is not cancer! That is really great because if they are not able to get all the tumor out (which they most likely won't be able to) there are medications that stop non cancerous tumors from growing and shrink them. They get in a frozen like state and don't cause any problems. In addition we found it at a time where emergency surgery is not necessary so the doctors have had the time to plan every detail and get all the right people working on Sammy's case. That said, Dr. Smith indicated that if we hadn't brought her in when we did, it would have been an emergency situation and she would more than likely had to have gone through one surgery to relive pressure and a second to remove the tumor...we feel so blessed!
The not so good news is that the tumor is not in an easily accessible place; it is in her mid brain near her brain stem. The doctor indicated that he will probably not be able to get it all out without causing damage and his goal is to go in there and cause little or no damage to her surrounding brain. The major risks of the surgery are stroke (during the surgery, but the risk is minimal) as they will be near many blood vessels and after the fact she is likely to have weakness on her right side. Physical therapy will most likely improve the weakness over time, but she will have some work to do to get back in shape. She may never get back all her strength, but she will most likely recover most of it.
After the surgery she will probably be in the hospital for about a week to recover. They will send the tumor to pathology to determine what it is and then we will meet with the oncology team (whether it is cancer or not) to determine the best medicine to treat the remaining tumor.
The bottom line is that the doctors have seen this type of tumor many times and said that the outcome is generally very good for the kids! In Dr. Smiths words "they live to be 100". We are very optimistic, but at the same time realize that between finding the right medication after the surgery and the rehabilitation we have a long road ahead of us...and I better get comfortable driving around Boston!
Thank you all for your positive thoughts and prayers, this sounds corny, but we really feel the positive energy from everyone! Please remember to think about Sammy this Thursday and we will keep you posted!