Second Opinion/Winship Race 9.24.12

Last week Shelly, Parker, and I flew up to NYC to meet with Dr. David Ilson at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. We wanted to have a consultation with the world-renowned Esophageal Cancer Specialist to understand more about the disease and my life with the disease. After reviewing hundreds of pages of documents, Dr. Ilson suggested that the Esophagectomy surgery was not in my best interest at this time. He felt strongly that since the chemo therapy is working to reduce the cancerous tumors, there is no reason to go that route yet. The esophagectomy is very traumatic to the human body and would almost be treated as a last resort due to the complications during and post surgery. So for now and until further notice I will be having more chemo cocktails! I am certainly pleased that we could have possibly avoided a major catastrophe if I had been impatient and pushed for the surgery sooner rather than later. Other than the meeting with Dr. Ilson, we had a wonderful time in the city; it had been ages since I had been there.

On another note, please come out and support Emory and the Winship Cancer Institute on October 13th for a road race.

The race is only a 5k, so you really do not have an excuse to not to join us! We have a great support group already signed up under “Team Hayden”. All ticket sales and donations benefit cancer research. I will be speed walking (sans fanny pack) so catch me if you can!



**Chemo starts back tomorrow and to my understanding, I will be on the same schedule for a while (every other week)

9/25/12 – Infusion

10/9/12 – Infusion

10/22/12 – Infusion

10/29/12 – CT Scan & MRI

11/6/12 – Infusion


The Mind Bender–Status Update 9/4/12

I thought that I would go ahead and share the most recent news and events that have affected my life over the last 20 days. Shortly after my last status update, my oncologist and surgical oncologist presented my case to the board (@Emory) about my surgery. The board decided that pursuing the Esophagectomy ( at this time was not in my best interest. What a bummer! I was so excited, but quickly reminded about how every single cancer patient that I have spoken to said that the journey is a roller coaster chain of events.

Knowing the cancerous lesions on my liver had decreased in size, the doctors were still unsure about the makeup of said lesions. On 8/21/12, the doctors then ordered that I go and have an MRI completed on my abdomen with a focus on the liver; this would illustrate a much clearer picture of my lesions than the prior CT Scans. On 8/23/12 I completed the MRI and the waiting game for the results endured yet again ( over the weekend).

Monday 8/27/12- Monday morning started off with the usual complaints about the side effects of chemo and so forth. Then around noon, I got an email that would shake me to the core. Whitney Rybert, one of my newest friends and gal pals had passed away after her fight with a super rare and aggressive cancer. Whitney was one of those people that I had only known since April 21st (Yes, I remember her first email to me) and had instantly become a wonderful friend. Although we have loads of mutual friends, I had never had the opportunity to meet Whitney in person until late April. Shortly after we shared our stories, I could not get over her positive outlook on life amidst the cancer diagnosis. All of Whitney’s friends and family can attest that her positive attitude was soooo contagious! Along with Whitney, Hollis Youngner (my other new gal pal and chemo buddy), helped me in ways that words cannot describe. Whether it was a quick note via text or facebook, they both taught me the true meaning of perseverance, courage, and strength. Whitney- we love you so much and there is not a day that goes by that we don’t all think about you. You are sorely missed!!!! XOXO and F-Cancer!

Tuesday 8/28/12- We met with our oncologist to review the MRI results from my liver scan…The liver scan is vital to the whole process for the following reason. The surgeons (across the board) say that it is critical that my liver is almost completely clear of lesions prior to doing the surgery. During the recovery period from the Esophagectomy, my body will be healing for 2-3 months and receiving chemo therapy during that time is not conducive to my health. They do not want the liver spots to be spreading during this down time…make sense? Ok, so here is a bit of good news (Finally)…My oncologist shared that I only have one lesion left on my liver at this time and it is only about 5MM! 5MM is roughly the size of a pea and considering that my liver is the size of a football, I think that is pretty good!

That brings me to my next steps for treatment. As of 30 minutes ago, my oncologist spoke with the board again (Friday evening) and they all recommend that I continue my current chemo therapy treatments for another 4 weeks and then have another evaluation. I am ok with that, I have taken all necessary steps both physically and mentally to do so. I know that the chemo is working its magic and the sooner I get my liver disease free the sooner I can have surgery!

I want to thank you all for the continued support and love and please say a prayer, or send positive vibes/thoughts to the Rybert family.



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