Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finally off

Peter is a little 7 yo who has bone cancer.  We first met Peter about 10 months ago when his family brought him in because his leg had started to swell.  His xray showed an abnormality in his bone and a biopsy proved it was cancer.  Our options for bone cancer are limited.  Amputation is what we recommend because our ability to get a cure or remission with chemo is right around 0%.  We always offer amputation to the patient and family, but almost always they stall and when they do finally come around to agree to it, it is too late because the cancer has spread. 
Dying from cancer is not fun for anyone, but to watch a little child suffer as his leg grows to 3 or 4 times it’s normal size, while the rest of his body turns into a skeleton is painful.  I have seen it more times than I want to already in my young career, so I strongly encourage patients and families to allow us to do an amputation. 

What child wants to have his leg amputated?  None of them.  What parent wants to allow their child’s leg to be amputated?  None of them.  I can’t blame them.  In a society and culture where walking is a necessity, where there aren’t prosthetic legs readily available, where folks who can’t get around likely won’t get married, won’t be able to provide for their families, won’t be able to outrun the enemy in a tribal fight, having an amputation is like a death sentence.  Trying to convince them they are going to die from this thing we call cancer isn’t easy. 

The families always want to try every other option like chemotherapy, radiation, herbal medicine and bush medicine before agreeing to surgery.  Thankfully for Peter, the chemo knocked his cancer down enough that when his knee started swelling again, the family had enough time to finally agree to allow us to do surgery before it was too late.  As far as we know there is no sign of spread, but only time will tell. 

Peter was a trooper, I saw a few tears in the days leading up to surgery, but he went into surgery fine and came out doing well and smiling as I saw him before he went home.  Pray that we did get it all and that the chemo we give him will work to knock down any residual cancer.  Pray that he will adjust to his one leg and that he will find strength in the one who died for Him.  Pray for his parents who made a tough decision, that they may be able to enjoy Peter in their house for a long time yet.