Monthly Archives: December 2008

Confirmation!

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Mike just after Christmas, he shaved his head for fun since he knows it will be shaved by the doctors anyway.

Mike just after Christmas, he shaved his head for fun since he knows it will be shaved by the doctors anyway.

Yesterday we took my brother to UW Medical Center for an MRI and consultation.  The MRI took about 40 minutes and we then went upstairs to Neuro-Surgery and checked in.  After reviewing the new MRI and the CT from japan, the Chief Resident on Neuro-Surgery there came in to talk to us.  Dr. Patrik Gabikian who seems to be about the same age as me has a good smile and started off asking my brother about his seizure, about any other symptoms (which turned out to be Aura’s that he’d been having for a couple months) and then asked about all sorts of random things.  The serious of questions were purposely designed to establish how his brain was working and establish right/left dominance.

Dr. Gabikian explained that there is an “abnormality” which appears to be a tumor, in the right frontal lobe.  The good news is that my brother is left-brain dominant so language and cognitive functions are fairly safe but it could still affect motor function.  The mass is about 55mm (just over 2 inches) in size and it concentrated but irregularly shaped.

He gave my brother 3 options,

1.) Do nothing and let it go, check it in a few months.

2.) Perform a biopsy to get a diagnosis from pathology, then come back for further treatment.

3.) Skip the biopsy and have surgery to remove as much of the mass as possible and give it to pathology for a diagnosis.

Obviously the doctors recommended option 3 because it means only a single operation, and better chance for diagnosis.  Risk of complication seems about the same and it accelerates the treatment.

After that discussion, we met Cynthia, the Case Nurse/Patient Coordinator that I’d been talking with on the phone to get the appointment and she introduced us to Dr. Daniel Silbergeld, the Attending doctor and head of Neuro-Surgery at UW.  He showed us the MRI and went over the options again, and some details about the surgery itself.  He explained that he only works on Brain tumors, has been doing it for 25 years and said there is no way to know what kind of tumor it is without the pathology tests and as such will not make any guesses about it until pathology results come back approximately 5 days after the surgery.

I got the sense that these 3 people are a VERY good team.  Dr.Silbergeld has extensive experience–apparently he trained the Nuero-Surgeons at Swedish.  He has worked with Cynthia for close to 20 years and Dr. Gabikian seems highly intelligent.  All three have very comforting “bedside manner” but are also very direct.

So my brother has pre-operation appointments totaling 4 hours on Friday 1/2/09, then the actual surgery is scheduled for Tuesday 1/6/09.  UWTV has video available online about a patient who went through this whole process.

    http://www.uwtv.org/programs/displayevent.aspx?rID=4129

It’s definitely an advantage to be living so close to UW and Fred Hutchinson

Somewhat related – I found an interesting article about Tumor Paint from Fred Hutchinson, and apparently Dr. Gabikian was one of the researchers who found a technique for illuminating small pieces of cancer cells that the MRI can’t see.

    http://www.fhcrc.org/about/pubs/quest/win07/scorpion.html

Category: cancer

Home For The Holidays (and the Doctors)

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My Brother’s CT film from Japan.  The dark spot is the tumor.  The top of the film is the front of his head (forehead).

My Brother’s CT film from Japan. The dark spot is the tumor. The top of the film is the front of his head (forehead).

My brother’s flight from Japan landed Christmas morning in Seattle.  After doing the Christmas morning thing with Devon’s family we headed back to my parents around lunch time.  He seems in good spirits but he’s in obvious pain, he’s tired, he’s weak.

We played Uno, had some lunch, ate ice cream, tried a rice snack from Japan, and generally hung out around the house.  My brother had his CT scan film from the hospital in Japan so I had to look, and I took a photo.  In the above picture you can see the tumor, it is the large dark area in the upper right corner.  It is up in front near the forehead.

Tomorrow we go in to UW Medical Center in Seattle for an MRI scan.  I’ll be really interested in hearing from the UW doctors about the details of this thing.

More to come as details emerge..

Category: cancer

It Can Happen To You!

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Primary Brain Tumor as illustrated by the National Institute of Health

Primary Brain Tumor as illustrated by the National Institute of Health

I got a THE call last night from my mom.  My brother is officially in bad health.  He’s in Japan right now for vacation, visiting his wife’s family.  Apparently he had a seizure while riding in the car near Nagoya, Japan and after being taken to the hospital a CT scan shows a 2.5” tumor in the brain.  Since he’s a US citizen, and employed in the US, he doesn’t have any health insurance in Japan.  Doctors gave him anti-seizure pills and sent him back (in Japan) for now.

In the meantime, we are trying to get him flights back to Seattle and I’ve placed calls to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to discuss anything we can do to help him before he gets back in the country.

The last email I received said that his diaphragm was damaged during the seizure, and my mom mentioned that can’t get out of bed, his muscles are all messed up and he’s in pain.

Update:  Email from my mom says he’s arriving in Seattle from Nagoya, Japan at 6:45am on Christmas day.  I’ll chat with the case nurse at SCCA tomorrow to see what’s next.

Category: cancer
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