The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Surgery tomorrow (Friday)

I am sitting at my laptop the eve of a major surgery, as is my tradition. (How many repeated events makes a tradition? Three, four?) Today I went in for a couple of supposedly short appointments at 1 and 2 pm. I left the hospital at 7pm. Thus, the name "MD" Anderson ("Most of the Day")

I check in for surgery at 8:45am. It is the second thoracotomy of the day, I believe, of three or four being performed by Dr. Hoffstetter tomorrow. It is straightforward from his perspective - one to two hours.

Many folks have asked me questions and several keep popping up. Here are some answers.

Q. "Why have they waited so long to do this - they've seen these spots all along, haven't they?"
A. Because when stage IV colon cancer is diagnosed, there may be hundreds of metastatic seeds planted before they take out the primary tumor. And they do not consider it beneficial to do traumatic lung surgery so early in treatment is there could be many more tumors lurcking beneath the surface. For me, now that I have been relatively stable for over three years, with only a handful of mets showing in the lungs and no evidence of disease elsewhere, they think that they may be getting most or all out with lung surgery - thus it is worth the effort.

Q. Doesn't your lung pop when they cut it? How do they repair it?
A. OK, here is a novice explanation. The lung is more like a sponge than a balloon. The surgeon deflates the lung then feels around. When he feels the nodule, he pinches it, and pulls it outward in a sort-of-stretching fashion. He then cuts and staple behind it with some fancy gadget, leaving intact the remaining lung structure. (Thanks, Judy, for finally explaining this to me in a satisfactory way!)

Q. How long will you be in the hospital?
A. Around five to six days seems typical from what I've heard.

Q. Does it hurt?
A. Yes.

Q. Will you be groggy in the hospital room?
A. The first few days, I'll have an epidural. So I will be alert and actually feeling little pain. Then when they pull it, they will have to give me narcotics, which will cause groginess. Of course, my wife and co-workers can attest that I'm a bit spaced out sometimes anyway, so they may not notice the difference.

Q. What about the right lung?
A. I am having surgery on only my left lung tomorrow. Dr. Hoffstetter would like to work on the right lung maybe a couple months after the left. There are nodules in both - larger ones are in the left. And the CT scan yesterday showed slight growth in the right ones. So we won't want to wait too long on those.

Q. What happened to the Owls?
A. Must you ask such quesions about such a difficult topic?

Q. Will you notice changes in your breathing?
A. The doc is planning on taking out about 5% of my lung tissue. The fatigue and chest pain subsides in a month or two, at which point he thinks I won't notice the difference in breathing.

Q. Where's the incision?
A. In the back under my shoulder blade. I originally thought it was my side, but I was wrong.

Q. How are you feeling about all this?
A. As for potential complications, worrying really gets me no where. I trust that I am in the hands of a loving God who is working out his plan for me, whether or not I enjoy the plan (right now, not). As for recovery, I'm not looking forward to the pain, but my goal is to endure one five-minute chunk at a time. I often recite Psalm 23, or similar passages, which I've brushed up on so I can focus during the most difficult moments. Some people think I must have gotten used to pain or have a high threshold for it. I don't really think so. It's not courage so much as not having any other choice. And to be frank, I'm not happy about any of this. I'd rather not have to rely on my faith, which is a weak muscle.

Some requests for prayer:
- That Dr. Hoffstetter will find and successfully pluck out the three nodules they can see on the scans. And that he will be able to detect and remove any others that are there.
- That I'll make it through the surgery without any of the major complications mentioned in the release form today.
- That Christine's pain and migraines will subside and she will be able to be right beside me during recovery process.
- That the pain will subside quickly and not be chronic, as is the issue in some cases.

My brother-in-law, Mark, will keep this blog updated tomorrow with surgery results and updates.


Henry Chu said...

Thank you for the update Greg. Will be in prayer in accordance with requests. May all go very well and may the outcome be better than expected. ps: Besides residing Ps23, would you consider also 139, 103 and the Lord's prayer?

Scott "One-Leg" Rogers said...

I will be praying for you. I've tried, repeatedly, to call you, but never reached you or Christine. I've wanted to talk to you for awhile, but it just hasn't happened. Please know that you're in my prayers, and I do mean that. I vow that I'll be praying for you tomorrow as you're under sedation being worked on. You're my brother in Christ, and I love you as such.
-Scott Rogers; Job 13:15 (Please read this passage)

Miriam Patterson said...

We will definitely be praying for you today. Lunchtime London time will be about the right time to lift you up in prayer!
Love in Christ,
Miriam & Andrew

John and Kelly said...

Greg and Christine,
We'll be praying for you.
In Him,
John and Kelly

John said...

We will be praying for you.

Dan & Syd said...

Greg-Dan and I are both praying for you and your family.It never gets "run of the mill" and you always have to remind yourself that only God is in control and can calm and give the peace necessary to weather these storms.

sarah said...

Thanks for this update Greg. We are happy that you are going into this operation strong and healthy. Your spirit is remarkable and we will all be praying for the success of the surgery, your recovery and Christine's health.

Denise said...

Loving prayers beginning now.

Denise said...

Loving prayers beginning now.


As ever you are in our prayers and have been. We pray for success of the operation and Christine's health during this time. Thank you for keeping up dated on your health.
Maria & Craig

Chara Gafford said...

We're praying for you!

Roland Lindh said...

I demand you get well ASAP and certainly before I come down your way around the late summer early fall. If your not able to play golf with me by then I will be really angry. There is no excuse for missing a golf engagement - none -period. Be ready and furthermore I expect that you will have had a few practice sessions, even a lesson or two, before I get there.
Best wishes in common bonds of faith in a risen savior.

Brian Marquis said...

Just read this post and you should be out of surgery by now... I pray that your recovery will go quickly and well with as little pain as possible; and, that Christine's pain may be healed - if only for a little while - to be a presence of strength for you during this time. I also pray that this ordeal, as taxing as it is on you both, will bring you two ever the more closer in your marriage and love for each other unto His glory. May God grant even more strength and power to you both!

Steve Taylor said...

Thanks for keeping us all informed. Incredible! Have been and will continue praying for you and Christine and the medical team.