Backwards 7 And Bone Cement, Coming Right Up

Sunday I headed to Mayo.  I met Monica at Boondocks (fitting) off the interstate and she shuttled me up, around on Monday and back down, catering to my every whim.  Pity Monica.  

Two weeks before, I talked with Drennan who recommended her medical oncologist at Mayo.  She put in a call to him and he called me back that evening.  In addition to seeing him, I also requested an orthopedic surgical oncologist consult.  

I arrived shortly before 7 and unloaded and registered all of my scans and reports with Admissions.  Moving on to Labs…the line to get poked was impressively long and I got to see an interesting array of people, none there for happy reasons.  I looked like I was in better health than 90% of them but I’m guessing many of them do not have terminal conditions.  You just never know, do ya.  Next up, mug shot.  We squeezed in a cup of coffee and then back for my first doctor appointment.  

I liked Dr. Loprinzi from the start; a straight-shooter that also has a sense of humor.  He was thorough and meticulous.  I spent about 90 minutes in his office (the first time) and we covered a lot of ground.  He expects to present my case to the Tumor Board next week.  Until he finishes his deliberations, I’m going ahead with radiation on the large lesion on my spine this week in Des Moines.  It’s causing me pain and I think the pain is spreading.  A chemo regimen for 3-4 months in conjunction with anti hormone receptor drugs (indefinitely) is likely. But first, I need to get the bionic leg.  

Dr. Sim and his team also impressed me with their approach, absorption of information and then return of recommendation.  I spent a couple of hours with him, various members of his team, some visiting doctors and Dr. Loprinzi again.  It was quite the party.  Not the same as Saturday.  I love picking their brains and discussing the medical aspects but not so fun when I think about why.  After getting more X-rays of my hips and evaluating the damage, he suggested cleaning out the cancerous lytic lesion as well as possible, reaming my femur down to my knee and then inserting a rod from my knee up into the ball of the hip, affectionately known as the Backwards 7 when it’s done in the right hip, and then filling the void with bone cement.  It will immediately set and be as strong as it’s going to be assuming it doesn’t shatter during insertion.  If things go well, the only rehab I should have is to make sure I can get around with crutches (that could be a problem) and that I’m mobile in general.  Pain management will be the main concern.  The caveat is that things could be different than expected when they crack me open.  If so, it could be a more invasive and extensive surgery and possibly a partial hip replacement or whatever they deem necessary.  Whee.  

Dr. Loprinzi is optimistic this could be a years instead of months or weeks situation.  There are no promises as we haven’t seen how the cancer, or the rest of me, will respond to treatment but it was good to hear him say that.  Quality of life, side effects of treatment, length of life….all of that is speculative.  Except for the chemo.  I know that will suck.   

Drennan also recommended I meet with Linda Miller who is her breast cancer mentor. She’s a sweet, spunky woman who has enough spirit to light up any room she enters.  We talked of a few women she knew that were a couple of years into a metastatic breast cancer recurrence and what their lives are like.  Some of it was hopeful, some was daunting.  Maybe that’s just life in general if you think about it too hard.     

We were able to accomplish everything that I and the doctors wanted to in a day so Monica and I got to head home that night.  I was exhausted, completely spent.  I’ll go back for the surgery next week.  In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare for surgery, prepare for coming home from surgery, settle logistics to and from surgery, get in for radiation, work, ride my bike, keep myself fed, watered and rested.  I have my hands full. 

Thanks for reading.  ~Sarah

PS~This was on one of the drawers in the exam room.  I have a lot to learn about medicine.




When the Keldermans throw a party….

Jill approached me a few months ago about having a little something to celebrate me being ten years cancer-free.  Her brother Clint and his wife Rachel are members at Wakonda Country Club and offered to have it there and so it was.  Two weeks before the party, I was given the news of incurable cancer.  What to do, what to do.  I wasn’t sure what my mindset would be, if I’d already be undergoing treatment and feeling poorly or if people would be able to enjoy themselves.  The circumstances changed but the party was the same.  Carry on.  

We were picked up by the Keldermans in Shaq to escort me to the party.  If you don’t know what Shaq is, I don’t even try to explain it.  It’s best just to see it.  Thanks for the photo bomb, Jeff. 


Gary, aka GK, “made me a little something”.  A piece of metal on it’s way to being a truck axle was machined into a cane (pimp stick) and painted pink.  Wow.  I’m a bit of a hazard just by myself but that thing makes me deadly.  I dig it.

People were asked to bring a picture of me that would make me smile if they had one.  I have yet to look at any of them nor looked at what was written in the guestbook.  I haven’t had a chance and I don’t want to rush through it.  The thought of it is daunting and I know it will be hard for me.  It will be beautiful and exhausting.  

At the party, my worlds collided.  I’ve mostly compartmentalized my friends for years.  Seeing so many loved ones from different facets of my life in one room, playing well together and having fun was a really cool scene to witness.  I knew they were all there for me and I felt it.  They mingled and made friends and figured out their commonalities which at a base level is their genuineness and ability to have fun.  I’m starting to find that a high percentage of them are also quite stubborn and increasingly bossy (!!!) but that’s another story. 

I don’t think I could’ve had a better time.  I sensed nothing but laughter and love in the room.  No pity.  The look of pity in your eyes will evoke an immediate and violent reaction from me.  No violent reactions, only laughter, absurdity, honesty, sharing of stories (and WOW were there a lot to be told, I have some very colorful friends), hugs, good eats and cold drinks with a beautiful backdrop.  Twas perfect.  

After we closed down Wakonda, we loaded into Shaq and rolled out to meet those who weren’t ready to call it a night at Star Bar.  Someone’s decision making skills must’ve eroded in an inverse correlation with the amount of alcohol they had because we later ended up at the Park Avenue Pub.  Not a bad place but I’m pretty sure they were trying to extinguish all of us with their drinks.

Thanks to all of the people that shared the evening with me and special thanks to Jill and her extended clan for making such a wonderful night happen for me.  As I said then, the only solace I have is the people in my life and because of them, I am fortunate.   


Musings….I’ve been deliberate about the friends I collect.  Nothing was more apparent to me than how good of a job I’ve done over the years of pulling amazing people close to me.  All are unique, clever, there-in-a-crisis and I know they’ll be with me for the long haul, however that plays out.  I know I can’t do it without them.    

Afterward:   The next morning Dave, Farner and I went for breakfast and all three of us were hobbling.  Me and my cancer-corroded femur, Dave twisted his knee getting out of Shaq and Farner….well, no one is sure what Farner did but his left foot was twice as big a his right and he had a big puncture wound right in the top of it, dead center.  He accused me of trying to infect him with “the cancer” but I’m guessing he got in a fight with the skeleton.