At the end of August, Milo and I met with the liver surgery specialist, Dr. Nakazato, to discuss the whether or not surgery on my tumor might be a possibility. Dr. Nakazato has a reputation that precedes him. He has the lowest infection rate among his surgeries and the only patients that don’t survive are ones medicine had already given up on. He is very straight-laced and particular, but with his success rate no one really complains. I was expected a bit of a giant, having never met him before, I was definitely surprised when a small little man without even the hint of a smile entered the room. Immediately, I was struck by how serious and robotic he was. It was as if I had moved down the conveyor belt towards him and he had to tinker with a piece to make me work again.
During that first meeting, Dr. Nakazato seemed very optimistic that tumor resection would aid in my cancer recovery process. As I have always said, surgeons like to cut and when presented with the opportunity they will. However, Dr. Nakazato admitted that the tumor itself was rather large and he could see some lymph node involvement on my MRI. He definitely wanted the results of the PET scan to make a more informed decision. His ruling, at the time, was that without further testing he wasn’t certain he would be cutting and we should definitely begin chemotherapy as Dr. Brooks suggested. Before we left, he asked about my biopsy and I told him I could recall the entire thing. He wondered if the doctor performing the biopsy had any issue removing pieces of tumor. I told him emphatically that she did not; the tumor came out without any trouble. He hmmed a lot at that comment. When I asked why, he replied, “These tumors are very hard and usually when biopsied they bend and break the needles.” My tumor is apparently very fibrous, which is apparently very rare as well. Clearly, rare is my tumors middle name.
Last week, we met with him again. After having time to peruse my PET scan and the report associated with it, he decided surgery would not be an option. Besides having to hack my liver in half long ways (wow!), he would have to halt my chemo for the next four to six weeks so I could recover post surgery. That would give the tumors in my lungs and other places the opportunity to continue growing and make my recovery that much more difficult. His suggestion, allow Dr. Brooks to continue with my chemo and if surgery is absolutely necessary it can be done when my counts are back up after these treatments are over. My concern was the dead tumor left inside my liver that the chemo wouldn’t affect. According to Dr. Nakazato, it won’t be an issue since the tumor will be absorbed by my immune system. He wished me luck with chemo and with that conversation my hope of surgery as a cure completely died. Toxins will need to save my life; nothing else will.