At University Hospital Feb. 2011

At University Hospital Feb. 2011
February 11, 2011 at University of Utah Hospital

Monday, March 7, 2011

A quiet day . . .

On January 26 Phil learned he had cancer somewhere in his body. Today, 41 days later, we have a diagnosis, but we are still waiting to find out what happens next.

Last Wednesday, March 2, Phil had a PET scan which required an IV and injection of a radioactive sugar. The whole process took about two hours. Two days later we met with a surgical oncologist, Dr. Courtney Skaife who gave us the results. We had been warned that Dr. Skaife would be very direct. She was, and her candor was much appreciated. Dr. Skaife pulled up Phil's PET scan on a computer monitor and described what we were seeing.

A PET (positive emission tomography) scan captures full color images of the body in three-dimension, slice by slice. Cool areas appear blue or black, while warmer areas are yellow, orange and red. Heat is generated when rapidly reproducing cancer cells uptake the radioactive sugar creating "hot spots" which appear bright red.

We were grateful to learn that Phil's cancer is confined to his colon and his liver and adjoining lymph nodes. These lymph nodes were expected to be involved, since they're the vehicle that transported the cancer from the colon to the liver. However we were disheartened to learn that instead of four lesions in Phil's liver, as identified in his CT scan, in fact, he has eight.

We also learned that due to a congenital defect, Phil is missing most of the left lobe of his liver so surgery may not be an option. The liver is a remarkable organ because it can regenerate, but only if there's enough liver remaining to reproduce itself. In Phil's case, there's not enough. However, Dr. Skaif had an innovative idea to cauterize a major blood vessel going into the right lobe where it branches right and left, to give the left lobe more blood, in hopes that it will grow. She plans to discuss that option at tumor board tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, Phil has surgery to place a port-a-cath in his chest so he can begin receiving chemotherapy. The port-a-cath provides a portal to a major vein in the chest and eliminates the possibility of damaging surface veins and tissues. And because it's under the skin, there's less possibility of infection.

Then on Wednesday, we have a 9:40 a.m. appointment with Phil's medical oncologist to find out what the tumor board recommends.

I know this sounds pretty dismal . . . and it is . . . but we still have some good laughs! Like the other day when Phil found out that two glasses of prune juice worked twice as good as one! After a couple of unexpected trips to the bathroom that night, we couldn't stop laughing. (The kids will relate to this--it was the same uncontrollable laughter they've witnessed when their dad plays Grand Theft Auto or watches The Pink Panther.) And he was still laughing in his sleep!


  1. You are in our thoughts and prayers!

    Ricky and Lana Arthur

  2. Good luck Phil, beat this thing!!

  3. Thanks for are loved by so many, and we pray for you.