This story begins on a snowy, icy rainy morning on February 13th, 2014. Billy Standridge (AKA dad) at the age of 60 was scheduled to have a routine laparoscopic procedure to remove his prostate due to low grade prostate cancer. This basically means that he had prostate cancer that was considered low grade, or low risk using the Gleason scoring method. Recommended treatment would be to remove the cancer while still in the early stages to prevent the the spread of cancer.
During the procedure he had excessive bleeding and the doctors decided to perform the surgery 'the old fashion way' by making a larger incision and removing the prostate. At this time there was no lymph node involvement or spread of the cancer. Aside from a gout flare-up, all went well and he went home 4 days later. The doctor was concerned about dads low blood count and advised him to follow-up with a Gastro-Intestinal (GI) specialist as soon as he was able to.
After being home a couple of days dad noticed a pain in his right side, just below his rib cage radiating to his back. Over the next few days the pain increased to the point that he called his doctor. Based on all the symptoms that he had, the doctor suspected that dad had gall stones or some type of gall bladder problem. He scheduled a CT scan and then sent us to the Emergency Department at Cleveland Regional for more testing. With-in the hour he had an ultra sound done. By this time I was fully prepared to hear that he was going to need surgery to get his gall bladder removed, he was in excruciating pain on his right side no-where related to his previous surgery. What I was not prepared for was to be informed of a large mass in the liver that was probably cancer, but the doctor couldn't be sure. He also wasn't sure about the gall bladder either.
Over the course of the next few days, dad had several more test done, as well as a liver biopsy. By the time it was all completed we only knew that there was cancer in the liver, and his gall bladder was fine and his pain was getting worse by the day. By this time we were ready to be moved to a hospital that specialized in cancer treatment and after several inquires decided on Carolina's Medical Center and the Levine Cancer Institute. This was a series of events, for Dad, Becky and myself you can read about those details in the first few of the blog post.
After more testing in Charlotte, about 6 days after the finding out about the liver mass, we found out what the liver mass might be. At first they called it sarcoma, then more specifically they called it Leiomyosarcoma. They mentioned that his case was extremely rare and the lead oncologist, although very helpful, suggested that he give dad's case to another oncologist that specialized in sarcoma's. They would not give a definite diagnosis or treatment plan.
Meanwhile dad had more test taken. While they didn't think that it was possible to have 2 different types of cancer's at the same time, they that thought it even more unlikely that he had a third. However, he had a spot on a lymph node in the lung that needed further investigation which meant another biopsy. They were expecting this to be a 'yes', it is cancer (positive), or 'no' it's not cancer (negative). What they did not expect to find was a third, possibly new cancer. The next test was a type of exploratory surgery that was done to see if the cancer in the liver had invaded the lymph nodes and/or nearby organs. This was done while he was under general anesthesia to place the port that would be used for chemotherapy. The results of this test was rather mixed. It was good news that the cancer was contained to the liver, the liver seemed to be otherwise healthy and surgery may have be an option to remove the cancer in the future but they were not ready to put him through a major operation to remove the mass just yet, they needed to confirm the primary source and shrink the tumor.
By the end of this last round of testing here is what we knew; (1) He had prostate cancer, but his prostate was removed, no lymph node involvement. (2) He has a liver mass that we need a pathology for. (3) He has a lymph node in the lung positive for cancer but we need the pathology for that as well.
Once the partial pathology was back they told us that what he had was not a sarcoma at all although it looked a lot like sarcoma. They were sure that he had primary liver cancer and maybe another benign type of tumor as well but not a lot by way of explanation. This is all we know about the tumor in the liver. They are not at all concerned for the lymph node in the lung because the liver cancer is the primary concern.
Over the course of the next several days we talked extensively with many doctors and they told us if his labs were good his best option was to try an oral type of chemo. After more lab testing and weekly lab testing it was confirmed that he could take a drug called Sorafenib. We are currently waiting to get this, it is our hope that it will slow down the cancer.
After much consideration of all of our options we have also decided to visit MD Anderson to see if there is a clinical trail that may help dad.
Right now we continue to deal with day to day symptoms and day to day changes. Please continue to follow the regular post for more up-to-date information.