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Craig and DaVinci - A Sundance Post Surgery Wrap Up Story

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I’ve had the time to think about what I wanted to say about the post surgery update with the DaVinci robot surgery. I met with my surgeon and my oncologist last week and felt good enough now to give everyone an update.

First, let me go way back and give a special thank you to Eric and Adrian, who came up with the idea to do something nice for me when I was in the hospital. Adrian had the idea of the “Robot” and Eric, the name “DaVinci” – and Eric absolutely executed the game plan masterfully – he pulled it all off and represented the Semis; in a big way, so I just wanted to recognize those guys for that.

I’d be remiss if I did not thank each and every one of you for your participation as well - I know that time was an issue and some of you missed it, but all of you were there in spirit.

And I also want to thank Eric and all of you for the Prayer Post (I even felt the excitement reading it) and all of the update posts that Eric opened to keep everyone informed. The Board sure was buzzing good for a few days there.

I hurt so bad that all I could do was barely read those posts, but it made a difference that you cared so much and took the time out of your days to follow the story and post about it. All of you had so much going on, yet were giving from each of your hearts for me - I have never felt more cared for in all of my life – I thought my folks have their hands full and are going out of their way for me – just truly moving and I felt the strength and love of the board – really I did.

Like Chicky said, “I could really feel it” – even well after the fact. So thank you one and all.

Well, the pain knocked me around for the first 6-weeks really badly and I was off the board for the most part. And then slowly I began a post here and another there and then the words began to return – and then the Christmas Project!

So, what can I say about DaVinci – IT ROCKS!

I can clearly see the benefits now in the recovery time – I was only down about 9-weeks and it would have been many more the traditional way. The pain has susided a good deal although I’ve still got a ways to go, but have returned to work today and will move forward and try to get back in the swing of things.

I did get to “eyeball” the DaVinci – it’s an impressive although an intimidating piece of machinery. I remember seeing O/R 8 and then the DaVinci robot and the console – they got me on the table and after that…lights out.

One other thing I wanted to mention was that I got my port REMOVED about 3 weeks after this surgery – I had not had enough surgery and wanted more, LOL. So, I got the approval from my new onc and scheduled it with the surgeon in Arlington who originally put it in. (This was my 2nd port install/removal). There is a lot of scar tissue build up and it feels like a small port is still there, but it’s just scarring – they put both ports in the same spot. So, like everyone that was a great feeling to have that removed – a symbol of freedom.

I also had dental surgery to repair chemo damage and had a crown done and another big filling done – again, just love to be “operated” on, LOL. I’m like a used car, always up on somebody’s rack, LOL :)

Which brings me back to…

As I mentioned above, I met with my surgeon and oncologist last week for follow-ups before returning to work. The surgeon is pleased with my recovery so far and I seem to be doing very well, according to him and my expectations.

I had 2 tumors removed by DaVinci – they were BENIGN!

Turns out in this case, that these were abnormal cell growths that formed tumors and “mimicked” cancer cell activity. It was also very rare to have cell growths of any kind in the pleura of the lung.

No medical professional that I talked too (2nd & 3rd opinions included) could tell me one way or the other if it was cancer or not. Based on my cancer history and the path that colon/colorectal mets take, all indications were it was cancer.

And that was the quandry I was in when I joined the board and found you guys. I was looking for answers and it took me awhile to finally get with the UTSW people and put all of this together – we made medical history for North Texas as a result. (and you’ll be able to read about that – I’ll send link in another post).

Right now, the media blitz is under way with the hospital media, the newspapers, and the television station covering this story, so it’s been a real whirlwind of activity in telling this story.

This past Friday, we met with my new oncologist and went back over everything – he ordered a CT scan for me next week before New Year’s to see how things are looking post-op – if there is a problem we’ll talk about it, but it does not appear to be the case.

My CEAs are sitting at 1.5 right now – no cancer back in my liver – the scope I had done in January showed clear – and the tumors outside the lung are benign.

So I asked the Onc point blank, “Would you say that I have no evidence of disease?”

And he said, “Yes, we can say that now.”

After almost 6-years, I heard the magic words – I’ve gone NED - and just in time for the holidays! It feels like a Christmas Miracle!

I had a grin from ear to ear and those first few moments I was just giddy – I goosed Kim in the elevator and made some funny noises and the doors opened and two women heard me and looked at me funny – I didn’t care, I was just happy.

It’s unbelievable really – it’s still very hard for me to wrap my mind around it – I’ve never been one for labels but this one really felt so good to hear. I’m smart enough to realize that NED is for TODAY and for NOW – I know it could change on a dime, it has happened before and almost again, but I dodged a bullet.

But I’m going to enjoy what I’ve fought so hard to achive – I still feel saddened for all my friends that are waging their personal battles with The Beast and have not gotten the news they so richly deserve, but I’ll keep praying and pulling for each of you.

I take comfort in the fact that another STAGE IV cancer fighter has gone NED, when the doctors had counted me out on more than a few occasions. When they weren’t telling me I’d be dead before another Christmas, they were telling me hat "positively” “unequivocally” “without a doubt” you WILL GET CANCER back in your liver within one year from the resection/RFA.

Well, it’s been 2 years since that prognosis too – and I fooled them again – take that Docs!

You can imagine my thoughts after almost 6-years of this stuff – I’ve been truly blessed and have received my “GIFT” for the holiday season.

If my battle has meant anything, it is that Stage IV is not an automatic death sentence or even terminal – too many good stories on the board to disprove that theory.

So, to all of the battle hardened veterans, to all of my friends, to all of the newbies – this can be done.

So, NED for now and hopefully forever – right now I like to think that I’m back to being a “half-step” ahead of the cancer – happy but cautious – time will tell – five years with no recurrence is the bench mark – that’s a long time, but I will gladly take any length of time right now.

I’ll post links to the DaVinci newspaper article and local news piece as I find about them, so you can follow along. As far as I’m concerned you are all still riding along with me. I’m still here with YOU and am not going to leave my friends behind.

It’s all still so very hard for me to comprehend, it has been a part of me for such a long time – it just seems so different right now.

“Cancer did not define me, but HOW I lived with and fought Cancer DID define me.”

And you know it still does.

I’m ashamed to open this post, because so many of you are still in the middle of your own personal battles, but I decided to do so in the HOPE that you will see that someone you know, who has gone at it for a long period of time, could finally reach their goal after such a lengthy battle – AND YOU CAN TOO!

I love you all, I hope you know that by now – Happiest Holidays 2009 to US ALL :)

Your Stage IV Semi; and Friend
-Craig

ittapp's picture
ittapp
Posts: 385
Joined: Jun 2009

This is what I have been waiting to hear!;)

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

This one certainly qualifies for the nekid happy dance. And a steroid induded 3AM one at that! A little more energy than usual here for lots of reasons...

I am so happy for you. When I got that news after my PET/CT this week I can't explain how happy it made me. So I cannot even begin to imagine the magnitude of hearing it after a 6 year battle.

Port out, surgeries done. WOW! Enjoy your holidays - may they be extra special this year!

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

I am smiling and shouting with you!

Congratulations Craig!
My best to you.

Lizzy

SandyL
Posts: 220
Joined: Feb 2009

Don't you just feel like a huge boulder has been lifted off your shoulders? Feel like you can smile again? Feel like the sun is always shining? Feel like you are alive? And then there's and feel like goosing the little woman? I am so stinkin happy for you, Craig I can't begin to tell you. I enjoy reading your posts so much and am happy for myself that you are fully back with us now. Congratulations and dance, dance dance!
Sandy

mom_2_3
Posts: 965
Joined: Nov 2008

What a wonderful post to read this morning!! I am so glad that you had such a fantastic outcome to your surgery and that you are recovering quickly and well.

How blessed you are with words and your ability to communicate your sentiments. It is a rare gift.

All the best to you and your family as you celebrate this Christmas!!

Amy

amcp
Posts: 251
Joined: Jan 2009

Fantastic news...thanks for sharing. Your post give us HOPE which is needed by us at this time. You are the best and we so appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness. NED that is what we all are waiting for and it could not have happened to a nicer man. Merry Christmas and May the New Year be NED forever more.
Anna

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2006

Craig,

You couldn't have gotten any better news! We are all celebrating right along side of you!

Have a great Christmas!

HUGS,

Sue

krf's picture
krf
Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2009

WOW! I know many of your friends already know your story here, but I was blown away to read about it in the article and in your profile. I am so happy for you and your wife! In my darkest hours, fast forwarding six years is terrifying (hell, even 12 months for that matter) and I don't want to think about what 'the numbers' say will happen with my husband.

"If my battle has meant anything, it is that Stage IV is not an automatic death sentence or even terminal "

I am so tired of reading articles that go into great detail about each stage of colorectal cancer, except for Stage IV. You are the real story. You are hope. I will keep your story in my heart.

My husband was dx with stage IV rectal five months ago. He is the love of my life and I plan on keeping him!

Sorry this reply is all over the place, I feel so emotional right now. I am truly happy for you and truly grateful for you and all the other folks here that share their stories.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Kim

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just4Brooks's picture
just4Brooks
Posts: 988
Joined: Jun 2009

Craig.. YOU DID IT!!! I'm so happy for you. You are a fighter 100%. Now I have to go outside and do my NAKED happy dace for you. Dang it looks cold out!!

Love ya
Brooks

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Craig,
What a wonderful thing to hear right before the holidays!! NED! Your news is so good for all of us to hear! You have gone for 2nd and 3rd opinions and you have gone for the NED! Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. What encouragement!

Take care and enjoy!

Aloha,
Kathleen

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

NED!! What a wonderful Christmas blessing. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Rob; in Vancouver... xoxox

lesvanb's picture
lesvanb
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

What delightful news! I loved how you weaved your story (I was wondering after you said the port was removed) from then till now. I also loved how you captured many of the sentiments in being stage 4, whether NED or not, and all that goes into that quest. Merry Christmas to you and your wife! I'm putting your CD into my computer at work right now (most people have left so it's quiet).

Love, Leslie

Janet3
Posts: 61
Joined: Aug 2009

Well, how much more proof do you need that there is a God?! Your post made my day! I am sooo happy for you. This is the most wonderful news for a wonderful guy! This was a tough road you've been on but you made it. I can't think clearly because I'm so happy for you and what this means for your family, friends and loved ones. I can't wait for my mom to read your post. It will be one more piece of proof for her that her doctor was absolutely out of his mind when he said she had 2 1/2 months to live and nothing wold help. He was wrong then, she's still here and doing remarkably well with the chemo. It's been 4 1/2 months and she has completed 10 of the 12 chemos rx by oncologist (not the original dr). I am so proud of your strength and appreciative of your willingness to share your extraordinary story. You have no idea how your words have inspired me through this caregiving and surviving process. Thank you sincerely! Happy Holidays to you and continued good health!!
Janet

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

We all know what you got for Christmas! This is fantastic news; I am so happy for you! you have worked long & hard for this! I hope you thoroughly enjoy being NED & I wish continued good health for you. I am thankful for your posts & hope you will continue to post - you give us hope & inspiration!

pokismom's picture
pokismom
Posts: 153
Joined: Jul 2009

Omg Craig that is fantastic news! No one better to give it to, you have touched so many people on this board, I'm absolutely thrilled for you!
Donna

luv3jay's picture
luv3jay
Posts: 534
Joined: May 2009

Craig, I am so happy for you! What a truly wonderful blessing that is so deserved to a man who has blessed so many others by your prayers, kind words or encouragement and just positive thoughts. I pray for so many more years of NED for you and hope that you see this gift as a Christmas miracle. Be blessed, my dear friend.

-Sheri

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

This is truly the best Christmas present anyone could ever hope for! I'm so excited for you and your wife!

I've not been on here very long, but I've read a lot of your posts. I know what a struggle it's been for you. I'm still finding very surreal what improvements they've made in CC treatment.

What a miracle!

God Bless you and your family!

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Well,my big brother,I have been holding this question for a long time,I have been waitting for this post for a long time,this is just something I hope for exactly.Your CD and this post are my best Christmas gifts.I am really really happy for you from the bottom of my heart.You are a boy who is full of blessing,after all these years,you really made it.Take care.Happy holidays!

phoebe1017's picture
phoebe1017
Posts: 37
Joined: Sep 2009

I hope you know what an inspiration your story is to us all! I am so very happy that you were able to hear those elusive words..."NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE"! Thank you for letting us be a part of your miracle!!

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

My dear Craig,

This is so heartening and fabulous to read. Just about the time I got to know you and love you, I realized I was VERY worried about you. It seemed that things were very bleak, and I was nearly afraid to hope for a good outcome. You have given everyone here such hope, though, both through your caring and positive outlook and with your NED status. You just wrapped a great big Christmas present and gave it to everyone in the group!

*hugs*
Gail

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Only one of the best news I've heard today!!! I Love that you are NED now! How proud I am of you going through all this, and finally no sign of the beast, unless you have the 666 tattoed in your mane somewhere ;)

I could see you putting on those black sunglasses, a white button-down shirt with some sexy white Hanes underwear, (or was it Fruit of the Loom back then?), and white socks, sliding across a wooden floor, singing "I Love That Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger, just like Tom Cruise did in "Risky Business! Now, if you don't want to sing nekkid which I think is beautiful,even leaving things to the imagination, is sexy as well :)

I agree, I'd love to thank all these wonderful new people for their friendships, and stay here to post away as well, we can sure use anyones help and support during these dark days that we get!

Thanks to you my lion, for just being beautiful YOU!!

Hugsss, Lovesss and *PEEPS*
~Chicky~

idlehunters's picture
idlehunters
Posts: 1792
Joined: Apr 2009

Don't ya just love your new name??????? Me being stage IV and having that same "death sentence"and then becoming NED..... I can sooooooooooooooo relate to the feeling of freedom. The NED word puts a whole different perspective on things. I always have that thought in the back of my mind about recurrance...BUT... now...RIGHT NOW..... WE DON'T HAVE CANCER!!!! Fa..La..La La...La...La LALALA!!!! Yes siree... tis the season! Love you Craig! I am so happy for you

Jennie

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6525
Joined: Feb 2009

Truly the miracle of God through doctors' hands and medicine and a lot of God's love for you. That is awesome news Craig, and what better to hear that then right before the Christmas Season. I bet you were just blown away when the doctor told you that, especially after six years of battling one form or another and then not having our support for 5 of those years. You did all that journey without this new wonderful family you have here since about six months ago. I am so glad that you are declared NED and pray that it continues forever. This surely is a good way to celebrate the Holidays. I hope that you do a funky happy naked NED dance because you deserve it :)

So happy for the news.

Glad to hear that you are feeling better too. Take it easy at work and don't over do it, especially now since you are on the mend.

Hugs! Kim

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2120
Joined: Oct 2009

Well done, you are truly proof of a Christmas Miracle and prove that miracles can happen and do happen. You give the rest of us so much hope for the future. Good job and Merry Christmas. Tina

coloCan
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

I truly admire that battle you've waged the past six years; I've only been at it since Dx in May with Stage 3. You're a true inspiration to NEVER,EVER give up the fight.Hopin you're NED the rest of a healthy/lenghty life....yOU'RE fellow warrior.Happy Holidays to you and you're wife...Steve

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

Craig, what can I say? This just thrills me to the bone! What a wonderful Christmas gift! AWESOME, my friend!

Thanks so much for sharing your good news. I'm sure it gives hope to others who have not yet heard those precious words! God ROCKS!

Love to you and yours and a

VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS INDEED!

Diane

thready's picture
thready
Posts: 475
Joined: Sep 2009

Craig,
I am sitting here trying not to cry tears of JOY! My family is here and I will have great expressions of glee, when they have gone. Some would not understand. So in cyber space I am singing as loud as I can. Congradulations.

Jan

Julie 44
Posts: 479
Joined: Oct 2008

Hey Craig,
I am soooo very happy for you that I can't even put it into words...For once I am crying tears of JOY JOY JOY....What a very Merry Christmas to you and Kim...You always tell us of hope and now you have shown us...Thanks for all the insperation and what a story you have to tell...Please let me know about the articles when they come out..So looking forward to it....Happy Holidays to you and Kim....JULIE

ann2008's picture
ann2008
Posts: 119
Joined: Nov 2009

I am so happy to hear your good news. I too have had good news this week but will tell about it in another thread. There is no way I would try to take away from such wonderful news as yours. So,from the bottom of my heart,I am truly happy for you and your family. Phyllis

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Craig- what fantastic news! Please keep your emssage of HOPE alive and well for the rest of us. You are an inspiration.

enjoy your new label- you've more than earned it darlin'!

Peggy

dorookie
Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

I am posting so late. But I did want to put my 2 cents in here. Never Never be ashamed of sharing great news. We all need to hear it as well. I can relate I felt the same way when I found out I was NED, I felt bad actually, that there were so many of my good friends here still fighting, but shortly relaized that it meant a whole lot to them so share the news. Anyway You know what I am talking about, I wont preach..LOL

Great news I am so very happy for you my friend. You have set the path for others to follow, what a great accomplishment! Thank you for doing that, and I thank God that you are NED and pray that you will be forever!!!

God Bless
Beth

GOOFYLADIE's picture
GOOFYLADIE
Posts: 233
Joined: Aug 2009

If it's not a word it is now!!! LOL! Ya who!! God has truly blessed you and this board. You have truly been a bright clear voice on this board. I am so happy to hear this awesome news. Sharing, shows the good, the bad, and the ugly! It also shows what can occur, NED! Yes, sir this is an unimaginable group of people. No one, unless you are part of this board would or could ever understand the closeness, the warmth, understanding and the gross openness that goes on and has to go on to share and get thru all the ordeals, hoops and hurdles, we all as patients have gone thru. Thank you for being a part of my life. It reminds me everyday to Make it a Great Day. Warm hugs and Happy New Year!!
Goofyladie (Cass)

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Craig,

I apologize for taking so long to reply to this. I'm just reading this post of yours today (12/28) for the first time. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There- can you tell I'm happy for you??!
You said it- you've had a whirlwind of activity lately with all the media coverage going on for the Da Vinci robot surgery, and now "this"! Amen!!

Blessings to you for a very Happy New Year and new beginnings in 2010!

Lisa

butterfly23's picture
butterfly23
Posts: 257
Joined: Mar 2008

Wow! words cannot express how happy I am for you! You sooo deserve this great news! you and your wife weren't dancing with NED in the elevator. (WERE YOU?!?!?!) Ha Ha Ha! I don't think you realize truly what an inspiration to all of us! I hope you don't forget us and keep in tough! We all wish you well! As you may remember I am stage 4 and have been getting bad news, but it's stories like yours that ispire me!
HUGS!
KARYN

JDuke's picture
JDuke
Posts: 443
Joined: Nov 2009

My heartfelt congratulations to you on being NED. What a perfect way to start the New Year!!!
You have encouraged so many here on this board, always with a kind word and sincerity. You are our Star! Good luck and relish every moment of your success! You earned it!
Warmly,
Joanne

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