Dr. L stopped by this morning to check on Steve, discuss next steps and tell him the preliminary diagnosis.
The pathologists believe the lesion is an astrocytoma, the kind of tumor we discussed last week. They believe it is a grade 3 or 4 tumor (with 4 being the most aggressive). We will learn the definitive results when we return for appointments next Friday.
In general, grade 3 is treated with six weeks of radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy. Grade 4 is treated with radiation and chemo concurrently.
Steve's body is still reacting to the biopsy. The left side of his face is almost completely back to normal. He has experienced numbness on the right side of his face. He has lost the ability to taste well -- he can't really distinguish flavors. (His sense of smell doesn't seem affected, though.) Dr. L strongly suspects that all the pain Steve experienced yesterday during biopsy was related to swelling and irritation around the fifth cranial nerve, which might explain at least the numbness he's having now on his right cheek.
His vision is still double, but wearing the patch has helped his orientation some. (And it gives him a good excuse to say "Arg!" frequently.) His head aches, and not just in the lower back of his head as before. There are those healing holes from the biopsy plus wounds from where the halo was screwed into his head.
He was removed from most of the lines and monitors this morning, sat upright in a chair for a while and walked around the nurse's station with help. He relished sitting in the chair, taking pressure off the back of his head.
The current plan is for Steve to stay another night on the neuro floor. If he's doing well tomorrow, he'll be discharged. We'll stay a night at the hotel attached to M.D. Anderson, allowing him to rest, then drive back to Dallas Sunday morning. Jayshree will drive with us and will fly back to Houston that night.
Then, we'll return to Houston Thursday night and meet with doctors Friday morning -- follow up and suture removal with Dr. L, treatment plan with Dr. C and a visit with a radiation oncologist. We hope to be back home Friday night.
Radiation will need to start as soon as Steve's sutures are healed.
We are all struggling with the news. When you look at Steve, you just can't believe that there is an awful tumor growing in his brain stem. With the help of the steroids, he has been working, taking care of and playing with Cooper and Katie, washing dishes, walking Margie. We are greatly encouraged by all of that, by his excellent lifestyle and health (tumor notwithstanding), by his inspiring attitude and outlook, by the resources we've had available, by our faith, by your faith, by the stories of beating the odds and by news of miracles.
Even though we're a few hours from home, we've never felt alone, enjoying the company of Jim, Betty and Jim, Shauna, Swati and the nice people we've met along the way.
1. Steve is feeling relatively well considering everything he endured yesterday and the news he received today.
2. Pathology says the cells look like an astrocytoma, either grade 3 or 4.
3. Steve should be discharged Saturday. We would drive home Sunday.
4. We'll return in a week for follow up, official diagnosis and treatment plan.