"Our soul must perform two duties. The one is that we must reverently wonder and be surprised. The other is that we must gently let go and let be." Julian of Norwich

...Cancer teaches both!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Surgery Date Set

February 3 & 4, 2011

Further to my last post, I have now been approved and scheduled for the sacral resection surgery.  The surgery will take place over two days on Thursday and Friday, February 3 and 4.  Overall surgery time is often over 12 hours so they have recently broken the procedure into a 2-stage approach.

Day 1: Anterior Incision

On the first day the procedure will involve a removal of the rectum and any other cancerous soft tissue from within the pelvic cavity.  I will be fitted with a colostomy at this time.  In preparation for the second day, the arteries feeding the sacrum will be clamped off and a "flap" of abdominal muscle will be cut to eventually fill the void created when the sacrum is removed.    I'll go into recovery following this procedure.

Day 2:  Posterior Incision

On the second day the orthopaedic surgeons will perform an en bloc resection of my sacrum.  The intent of this procedure is to fully remove all of the sacral tumour, leaving clear margins all around.   In my case it will be a "sub-total resection".  Most of the S1 vertebrae will be retained, which should preserve the structural integrity of the pelvic girdle and spine.


I'm scheduled for the hospital for 2 weeks.  Whether it takes longer will depend on the surgical outcome, complications, and mobility issues.

Future Mobility

I have been told that the left sciatic nerve will be lost in the surgery and that I could be "wheelchair bound".  Having spent much time with my dear paraplegic Aunt Shirley, I have very few qualms about this.  We really won't know what mobility issues there are until after the post-op assessment.

I will have a few appointments with various doctors and clinics over the next week as I get ready for the surgery.

Curative vs Palliative

Cancer treatment is often classified as either "curative" or "palliative" depending on whether the intent is to eliminate the cancer and cure the patient or to alleviate symptoms and provide comfort.  I've been told that there is not a large enough "population" of this particular procedure to deem it curative.  But there is no doubt that "cure" is the intent of the doctors performing the surgery and of us going into it.  We would not undertake a procedure of this scale if there were not a reasonable hope of a curative outcome.

That said, we will not know for several months as to whether the operation successfully excised all of the sacral tumour or not.

That is about it.  We are of course very excited and hopeful.  But not without some trepidation on my part!  We have the best of surgical teams and are in good hands.  We will do what we have done for the last 6 years, forge ahead and hope for the best.

By for now...

Rob; in Vancouver


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Rob....David and I are so happy to hear that news...great news indeed. We're forging ahead right beside you and as always hoping for the best. Anything we can do....we'll be there.

Love, Sandra and David

Kathryn in MN said...

Wow! This looks very promising. Somehow I missed your late December post, so I didn't know you were contemplating this.

I will keep you in my prayers that you stay strong and healthy until February 3rd, so nothing can delay this procedure for you. And for a successful surgery without complications, and quick healing.

While this is a bit scary, it is also full of hope - a chance to even think about a cure, rather than just palliative! I am excited for you!

patteee said...

So hopeful, so hopeful

Anonymous said...

I have been wondering how this exploration was going. You continue to be in our prayers, Rob. Much love, Jane and family

Anonymous said...

Hi there Rob,

I have followed your blog closely as my father is also suffering from a recurrence in the sacrum after being NED for 11 years! I am delighted to see that you are having surgery, I am so incredibly happy for you!!!

I do have a question, which part of the sacrum is your tumor in? I am interested to know if it's in the same area as my fathers (S1 and S2), and should I fight more for a surgeon to take my father's case on.

I do hope I'm not being too intrusive and I really do hope your surgery is a complete success!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Oh Rob! such encouraging news! I shall keep you in my thoughts and prayers. And I will share the news with the IM seminar, which meets next week. Bless you, and go with God. Janet

Anonymous said...

Since meeting you and your family through Amanda & Chris' wedding you and Pam are often in my thoughts. You are both incredibly brave and my best wishes and positive energies go with you.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I will pray for God's healing power to work through all the people involved in the preparation, surgery and recovery of this hopeful and scary incredible procedure. I pray for deep, abiding peace; as well as the assurance that all have intentions for the greatest good for you and your family.
Love Cindy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an uplifting and movingly spiritual account of your thoughts on life at the leading edge. You continue to be present in all my prayerful moments.

Your seriously lapsed godfather, John Jenkins

Anonymous said...

Rob: I wish you nothing but the best outcome possible from this surgery. We will keep you and your entire family in our thoughts and prayers next week.

Tina G. (geotina from the CSN board)

Mike said...

God Bless you Rob I pray the surgery will cure you.
Mike in Carrollton

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear that you are able to have the surgery Rob. Will be thinking about you and your family and wishing you the very best.

Healing thoughts,

MzLucy said...

Rob - I just "stumbled across" your journal while reseaching ancestors. It seems I have "Pollack/Poage" ancestor, also.

In God's world, there are no accidents, and I add my prayers for you and a glorious outcome.

All of us who are His Children have a constant hope for a perfect recovery when we go to be with Him eternally. This life is the "dream" heaven is the reality. I pray you have perfect peace in both places!

With Love in Our Lord,

Lisa said...

Hi Rob,

Today is the first time I've been on your blog. Tina (geotina from CSN) told me about your upcoming surgeries and mentioned your blog. Sorry to hear of your hardships, but I want you to know I am praying that these surgeries will be successful in giving you the relief you need and that it, indeed, will actually be curative. Also am praying that your recovery will go smoothly and that you will NOT end up in a wheelchair. Many blessings to you as you face this task- always cling to Him.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

It's lisa42 from CSN. This is the 1st time I've been on your blog- tina (geotina) told me about your upcoming surgeries and mentioned your blog. I'm sorry you've had such hardships, but am glad that the doctors are doing this for you. I pray that it gives you relief from pain and is truly curative! I also will be praying that your recovery goes smoothly and that there will be no paralysis. Blessings to you as you go through this...

Anonymous said...


I have read through the Christmas posts a while back and only became aware that you are going into surgery via geotina's post on CSN (Thanks Tina!).

The surgery you are having tomorrow sounds amazing and I am uplifted that it's possible that this will have a curative outcome for you. Hopefully it will most certainly alleviate the pain issues you have been having.

I admire you greatly from afar, your strength, compassion, your wonderful way with words.

I will pray this evening that the surgery goes smoothly, that you have a fantastic outcome and that your family is held in comfort tomorrow as they wait for you.

My very best to you,
Amy (mom_2_3)

Anonymous said...


I'm from csn site.....You will be in my prayers as you go through this big event. I pray that you will feel God with you through it all. Always enjoyed your enthusiasm over on csn.

The Camerons said...

Hi Rob,

The Camerons are wishing you a speedy recovery. You, Pam and the girls are an inspiriation. We wish you a very speedy recovery. And look forward to Kelly's blog letting us know that you are up again and kicking ass!

Much Love - Lorraine, Fergus, Emma and James