Now it can be told: V’s surgery

13 comments Written on September 7th, 2011 by
Categories: News

Back in July, a chest x-ray revealed an unusual mass in Valerie’s chest. The doctor’s reaction was “what the heck is that? let’s run more tests.” And so a CAT-scan with contrast was performed, which yielded up another round of “what the heck is that?” All the more curious, because my wife hadn’t had any symptoms of any kind. Her health was (and continued to be) fine and dandy.

Fast forward through several weeks and lots more scans and tests and bloodwork and the results were still not conclusive. Lots of words ending in “oma” kept coming up, and while the tests hadn’t ruled anything out definitively, they did suggest that we were not looking at a carcinoma or a lymphoma. So, yay!

What we did know was that there was a very large “thing” (roughly egg-shaped, about seven centimeters long and five centimeters wide), and Valerie christened it the “über-boober.”

It had settled itself next to her heart and between her lungs. Tests revealed that it was not in any detectable way impinging or otherwise affecting either the heart or lungs. It was just… there.

And it was too large to be removed using arthroscopy techniques, not least because the surgeons didn’t want to actually pierce the thing and risk who-knows-whatever was inside the mass from spurting throughout my wife’s body.

We met with a surgeon in August and went through the options. Best guess was that the über-boober was a thymoma. Less likely, but much higher up, probability-wise compared to the more scary options was that the thing was a teratoma (though if so, not a typical one, as the MRI did not reveal any calcium, such as would be expected if it contained bones or teeth). Either way, the solution was the same: surgery. Slice open the chest, go in after the damn thing, cut it out and send it to the lab for testing to confirm what it was and make sure it wasn’t malignant.

But, curiously, there wasn’t a rush. The surgeon had an opening in his schedule just after Labor Day, so we went ahead with our plans to attend the Worldcon et al.

And that’s where we are now. By the time this post goes out, we’ll have checked into the hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and Valerie will likely have been taken off to surgery. The procedure should run about four hours, give or take.

If all goes as planned, Valerie will be back in her hospital room by noon, sans über-boober, but with a nice new scar to show for her trouble, to say nothing of a delightful assortment of post-operative pain-management medication. She’ll spend the next few days in the hospital, and I’ll be there too. The expectation is that the surgery will be the end of things, no further treatment needed, no chemo, no radiation, zero, zilch, nada. So, I suppose if one has to have cancer, this is the kind to get.

So, if you’ve thought I’ve been a little off for the last few weeks, well, this may be why. Anxiety has been higher than usual at the Schoen home of late. We’re looking forward to putting this all behind us, and getting back to living our otherwise very blessed lives.

Thanks for any good thoughts you might care to put out into the universe. I’ll check in again after we get settled.


13 comments “Now it can be told: V’s surgery”

Hope surgery goes well for Valerie!

I’m up in Massachusetts, where my father just had a difibrilator installed yesterday. He is 82 and has never spent a night in a hospital before. He came through really well and expects to be discharged today.

Hoping all goes well & straightforwardly for you & V. I have just overnighted at HUP MedICU as they work on Rene.


BTW, has Conroy ever had to deal with synesthesia??

Best wishes for both of you! I hope it all goes quickly and well, and she’s back to her dynamic self again soon.

Yikes! All best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Hi, Lawrence. I’ll be thinking about you both today. I hope everything goes well with the surgery.

OMG. Will be praying that the surgery goes spectacularly well and that it’s benign/nothing! Chest surgery can be painful post-op. Poor baby.

My mom goes into the hospital tomorrow for a blood transfusion (she’s leaking from a stomach ulcer). What IS it in the air these days?!

::sending good thoughts for Valerie (and you, too)::

I just had a call from the nurse in the OR. The surgery apparently went well and Valerie did great. They’re closing her up now, and the surgeon will be out to speak with me in about an hour.

Uber boober! Only Valerie could come up with something so original. Well I hope th “U B” is on it’s way to another place and that she is resting well! XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Oh Lawrence! I’m so relieved to hear that the surgery went well. Will be holding both of you in my thoughts.

Thinking good thoughts for her!

So glad to hear that this surgery went well! I will now go and read the rest of the story. Thank you for using this journal as a means of keeping us posted. Much love to you & Valerie.

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