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2nd Opinion Finally Arrived - The Verdict Is In - VATS

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Good morning Semis:

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Since before joining the board on June 9th, I've been waiting for the doctors at UTSW to review my medical history for a 2nd opinion and come back with their opinion and what they think the next course of action should be.

And the verdict is...VATS.

The definition of this procedure is Video-Assisted Thorascopic Surgery. I'll be meeting with a Thorasic surgeon this Thursday to discuss my case and what the procedure will entail, although being my own advocate, I've already researched it and am familiar with the technique and what will happen to me.

It's possible that it might be a laprascopic procedure, but I've never been lucky enough to get any lap procedures - mine have all been open procedures. I'm going to hope that I get lucky this time. The premise of the procedure is to make the incisions on the right side of my chest, deflate my lung, and scope in towards the Pleura so they can at least get a sample of the tissue and/or remove the nodule spots in question. They may have to use a rib spreader to move the organs around some. It might start off as a lap and switch to an open during surgery, but nobody really knows that until they go in - things happen - things can change. From there, we hope to be able to biopsy the tissue to determine if it is a tumor. It's been growing and recent PET scans revealed "uptake" activity to the spot, so all indications are that it is. But this should settle that once and for all, so I'm prepping myself and getting my mind right as we speak.

Quick history for those who do not know me. I started with colorectal cancer, which metastasized to my liver, and now has metastasized to the PLEURA of my lung, where I now have 2 spots in question. The Pleura is a 2-layer membrane that surrounds both of our lungs. This is in a bad place for a tumor to be.

The new oncologist told me it does not look "OPERABLE" which is always disconcerting to me, because we all like to remove the tumor(s). I want to get a better understanding of whether it is operable or not when I meet with the chest surgeon.

Chemotherapy will be re-introduced but as to which drugs and regimen to follow are still TBD. I've got a big concern here, because the Oxy, Xeloda, and Avastin did a big number on my immune system and has compromised it greatly. It destroyed my ability to produce PLATELETS in the manner that is necessary to even be given chemo.

When I was coming out of chemo 7-8 months ago, there was a new drug that the FDA just approved - NPLATE. This drug "boosts" platelet counts but as always, when you force the body to produce more than it is capable of on its own, then pain & side effects will follow. I've researched Nplate and it does have its side effects. I may have no choice but to take it and live with it in order to boost my platelets so that the chemo can knock them down, if I want to continue to live. I'm not looking forward to this again. This "stuff" just never seems to end.

I'll know more after Thursday and can post back with what I found out. In reading many of your cases, it appears that I'm the only one with tumor(s) on the Pleura of the lung - I've read where some of you have it in the lung itself. I sort of wish mine were in the lung, because then we might be able to do a wedge resection and get to it. In the pleura, as I said above, it may or not be operable - chemo may be the only weapon available to me and who knows how long that will last - alot of collateral damage has already been done treating my liver with the chemo.

I worry sometime that me may run "out of bullets" and have nothing left, but all I can do is just keep moving my feet forward and take each day as it is given to me. I keep my head up, my spirits high, and my dignity intact. I meet each surgery or treatment head on and have never run away from a fight - and fight for my Life, I must do.

I will continue to try and help people any way that I can and use my Life as an example of what Cancer CANNOT do to any of US. I will post on the board when I am able and share, laugh, and cry with you as we all continue on our journeys towards Wellness.

I find myself thinking about each of you and your stories as I go to bed each night. A month ago, I did not know any of you, and now I know several of you and hope to talk with many more as the time goes by. I hope I've been able to provide some insight on the board and I sincerely care about each of you and am praying for terrific outcomes for each of you. Hearing some of the success stories on the board continues to give me hope and some strength to carry on until I can finally meet NED - I hear he's a pretty good fellow to know.

I've been riding this "CRAZY COLON TRAIN" too long and we're at the 3rd stop:
Colon / Liver / Lung / I need to get off of here, before we get to the next stop - the Brain.

I'm new to the Board BUT not new to Cancer - I'm beginning my 6th year of this fight, which puts me in some pretty good company out there.

All my best to each of you and may God bless all of us.


punch_vj's picture
Posts: 88
Joined: May 2009

Sending prayers of healing for you right now. You are a survivor, and FAITH has been and continues to be with you so that you will continue to proclaim what the Lord has done for you.

nudgie's picture
Posts: 1482
Joined: Sep 2006

Sending good vibes and prayers your way. I too continue to prayer each and every night for everyone on this board and I know they are heard :)

ittapp's picture
Posts: 385
Joined: Jun 2009

Hey Craig, I just said a prayer for you, and I know your going to be ok! I wish you luck in your journey and hope to be kept updated as to your status. Keep your spirits high. By the stripes on his back you are healed....I shall not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done. Patti

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Dear Craig,you are a real warrior.Thank you so much for your updating about how you are doing.Send my best wishes and good luck to you.Take care.

Posts: 137
Joined: Mar 2004

Craig, you're a true inspiration!! Thank you so very, very much.

krystle singer's picture
krystle singer
Posts: 109
Joined: Feb 2009

Hi, I'm new to both the board and cancer. You are a true inspiration. Thank you for the history of your battles, they are so valuable to all of us.
I will put you on my prayer list and keep you in my heart.

God bless you and keep and ut you on the healig path.


Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6723
Joined: Feb 2009

You have such an amazing spirit. It sounds like you are heading in the right direction and hopefully this will take care of your lung nodules. I hope and pray that all goes well with this procedure. Please keep us posted.


luv3jay's picture
Posts: 534
Joined: May 2009

Craig...be blessed, my friend! This is a rough journey, but we are all here pulling for you!


VickiCO's picture
Posts: 934
Joined: Oct 2008

Thanks for the update. In the short time since you found us, I find myself searching for your posts - they are always informational but mostly inspirational! Good luck with your journey.

Many hugs, Vicki

idlehunters's picture
Posts: 1792
Joined: Apr 2009


I can relate to the colon, liver, lung train..... but where is it etched in gold that next is the brain. I have heard many people mention a lot of other areas where their cancer has gone and not in any certain order. I too fret the brain since my knowledge is my power against this beast. I can only hope and pray that my symptoms stay contained where they are. This is a huge battle as I know yours is. Let us keep faith together. I pray for everyone here every day and night. I know you are strong. Stay strong with me and lets fight together.


Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2009


I will be praying and hoping you get the answers you want. I am only a caregiver, but you have been so compassionate and kind to me, and I appreciate all of the information you have shared. You are very brave and very courageous - a warrior as someone else said - and your attitude, generousity and kindness inspire me and many others I'm sure.

I will be praying for you and sending all good wishes your way!

Take care,

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi, Donna

That was just beautiful.....I thank you!

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi, Donna

That was just beautiful.....I thank you!

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I just wanted to thank you all for posting and it was great reading such wonderful responses from each of you. It's nice to have this support and your accepting me into the family has truly warmed my heart.

punch - thank you for the prayers
nudgie - thank you for the vibes
patti - thank you for the prayer
fight - thank you for your best wishes
neon - thank you for your nice comment
sandi - thank you for the prayer list and nice comments
kim - thank you for saying that
sheri - thank you for your support
vicki - thank you for searching and your nice post
jennie - thank you for your support
donna - thank you for your very nice words

Meeting the chest surgeon will be interesting and I should find out his timetable for when the op would take place...but another wrinkle has appeared...

We found out that my wife has to have her gall bladder removed and needs surgery and so we're trying to figure out how we're going to do 2 surgeries and back each other up...we've got to meet her surgeon and my surgeon and then see how we're going to schedule it. She's been in pain so I'm going to have her go 1st and then follow her afterwards.

July and August now look to be pretty full months.

Thanks again to everyone who read the post, I appreciate you taking your time to do that.

Continued best to everyone

Posts: 453
Joined: Aug 2008

I will get both you and your wife in my prayers. Sometimes when it rains it pours. You sure have had your share. Keep those spirits up. You will both pull through just fine.


eric38's picture
Posts: 588
Joined: May 2009

Craig - I have just started this fight and have not been through nearly as much as you have and you are handling it like a champ. I find myself feeling like I am battling this with you. I hope that your surgery goes beautifully and that tumor goes away and never comes back. You are not out of options until they tell you you are out of options and even then you can get a second opinion they may open up more opotions. I am sorry it has been such a long hard road but it will be worth it in the end. You and God will make sure of that. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us all and being such a kind,caring person.


Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2009

Can you explain why they're doing the VATS surgery instead of a simple needle biopsy? I too have lung mets and a suspicious pleural area and I had the needle biopsy and it was a piece of cake. I'm just confused.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi there

The spots are relatively small right now but growing and the consensus is that a needle biopsy is a "hit or miss" proposition and may not tell us what we need to know. So, the recommendation from the 2nd opinion I just got was to consult with a thorasic surgeon to discuss my case and they recommended VATS as the surgical option to better get down to the pleura for a sample and whatever else they are going to do. That's a tough spot.

I'll have more details after I find out more, but right now, that's the reason.

It's a tough call to make and I'm trying to be patient until we can gather more data. The scans were not available for my consult so that was disappointing, I'll have to wait a little bit further and let you know what I found out.

Glad yours worked though. Thanks for writing.


Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Dear Craig,please let us know when you have more information.I am sorry to hear that your wife has to do a surgery too.I hope you have family and friends who are living closed by and I hope they can help you out a little bit.I truly understand how hard it is for cancer treatment,just like my hubby and I, almost all of our family live overseas,and we don't know anybody closed by,so I really feel very helpless from time to time.When my hubby was diagnosed,my whole world became upside down,but I am doing my best to make do.Again,I send my best wishes to you and your wife and I wish you and your wife the best luck,I am looking forward to hearing that both yours and your wife's suggery will be succefull and both of you will recover soon.

Mike49's picture
Posts: 269
Joined: Nov 2008

Craig, Fight on brother, you inspire me and I admire your strength.

I look forward to hearing from you after the surgery.


Julie 44
Posts: 479
Joined: Oct 2008

Hey I want to wish you and your wife the best of luck....I too need my gallbladder out but I keep putting it off because like you my surgeries have all been open and this one will be too because of scar tissue..Everytime I have an attack I am afraid that it won't subside this time lol lol
Good luck to you I am so glad you that you did your homework on your diagnois knowledge is power and you atleast you know what to expect..I will be praying for both of you.....JULIE

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