Surgery Is Today (Emily Whiting Update #17: 3/19/18)

Today (3/19) is surgery day. Here is some info on the last week and what is coming today.

The photo above was taken by John Sklenar the last time all five of us were together in January. Emily finally gave me permission to publish a picture of her beautiful bald head. 🙂

Last Week:

  • Emily is constantly being tested for things… blood tests multiple times a week, audiology tests monthly (or more), but last week were the big tests (Tuesday and Wednesday). Here were the tests and results:
    • Electrocardiogram and echocardiogram – to make sure there is no heart damage (chemo can damage the heart). Great news there – no detectable heart damage.
    • Bone scan – to see if cancer has spread to other bones. Great news here – no cancer can be detected in any of her other bones. As far as they can tell, it hasn’t spread to other bones at this point. It is most likely to spread to other bones or her lungs.
    • Chest scan – 3 months ago there were small nodules in her lungs they wanted to keep an eye on. They were too small to biopsy, but they wanted to keep an eye on them. The previously discovered nodules were stable (which is good news). If gone, chemo could have taken them away – which means the cancer had spread to the lungs. There was a new spot but not a huge concern as she has had a cold for four weeks. So it likely is an infection. They will test again in three months.
    • X-rays and MRIs of her knee and femur. It seems that her tumor has grown a little bit. However, we were told it is likely caused by the tumor hemorrhaging – which means it is dying – which is good. So the surgeon was not concerned.
    • Overall, they were very pleased with the results of last week’s tests.
  • Morgan was here for the week – so although we missed Ali, the four of us were able to enjoy some days at home. Morgan’s boyfriend, Cory, came in on Saturday. He had cancer in his shoulder a few years ago (ewing sarcoma) when he was about Emily’s age – so it is especially meaningful to have him around this week.
  • Sunday night is when some of the anxiety started to set in about surgery. But two things were great and distracting blessings:
    • Our lead pastor, Bruce Webb, and his wife brought over dinner and ate with us. Being newer to the area and the church, it is so kind how much they care and pray for us.
    • Three families that we were close to in Rochester Facetimed us last night – parents and kids. They all read Scriptures to us, prayed for us, and sang for us. It was a perfect end to a week of preparing for surgery and what is coming.

What is happening this week:

  • We had to leave the house at 4:30 AM this morning to check in at 5:15 AM. I think 4:30 AM is the only time I’ve seen the interstate not slow down in Houston. There was still a lot of traffic, but we made it in 30 minutes (a record, for sure).
  • Surgery started at 7:00 AM and is likely to take 5 or 6 hours.
  • The surgery is called Distal Femur Resection. If you want to see what the surgery will be like (and you have a strong stomach), you can watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVBJGxI9nzg
  • They will take out her knee joint and the lower part of her femur. Likely, they will start by taking out 10 centimeters. Her tumor is about 6.7 centimeters in size. They will cut out about 10 centimeters then immediately go to pathology to look at it under the microscope. They want to be sure there is no cancer in the last centimeter of the bone (they call it negative margin). If cancer is seen under the microscope, they will cut off another centimeter and look at it. They will keep going until there is no cancer in the centimeter they cut out.
  • They will also remove some of the muscle and tissue surrounding the bone in case it has been infected with cancer cells.
  • They remove the entire knee joint because there is no way to reconstruct the original parts once the lower part of the femur has been removed.
  • They will also dig into the bone marrow space to be sure there is no cancer there.
  • Once they believe they have all the detectable cancer, they will insert the metal prosthesis and cement it into the bone on both ends.

What you could pray for:

Here are some long-term and short-term prayers for this week:

Our long-term requests are the same:

  • That God would be glorified in and through Emily and her Osteosarcoma, and that we all would submit to His glory being our priority.
  • That Emily and our entire family would grow through this (we believe God is always out for our good – which ultimately is to become more like Jesus).
  • That God would heal Emily and she would live a full, long life serving and pleasing Him.
  • That Emily (and all of us) would have peace and joy. This did not take God by surprise and He is for us.
  • That we would be sensitive to how God wants to use this in all of our lives.
  • That the cancer has not spread at all.

Our short-term requests include the following:

  • Pray that they will get all the cancer today.
  • Pray that they will get it all with the first cut of about 10 centimeters. If the cancer has crept up the bone, that will be a larger concern of how far and fast it has spread.
  • Over the next three weeks, they will be dissecting the cancer. The goal is for the cancer to be 90% dead as a result of the chemo. If it is 90% or more dead, her survival chance (medically) is about 70%. If it is less than 90% dead, they refused to talk about it at this point (Emily asked – they wouldn’t tell her). So we know we need to pray hard for the 70%.
  • Please pray for peace for all of us. Whatever comes, God is sovereign. He is good, and He can be trusted.

Some Pictures:

Here are some pics:

Some sister hang-out time in Emily’s room. Emily never liked Cheetos before, but cancer tends to impact your taste buds significantly, and now – she loves them. And so does Daisy!

One of my former co-workers in Houston has a daughter who is battling brain cancer. They came over for lunch one-day last week and brought their dog, Reggie. They have been on this cancer journey about six months longer than we have, and they are a great encouragement for us.

Morgan and Cory are spending their spring break hanging out in Houston and at the hospital with Emily.

Last night, we watched as a group of friends read Scripture to us, prayed for us, and sang a song for us. (You can see Daisy watching between Emily and me.)

Thankful for the encouragement and prayers from Woodalls, Nelsons, and Gagarinases. What a great way to end our night before surgery.

Thank you, everyone, for your interest, love, and prayers for Emily and our family.

To Catch Up on Emily’s Story:

If you are new to Emily’s journey and wanted to catch up – here are some links:

10 comments
  1. We have been praying much for Emily and all of you! We shared this blog entry with our S.S. class, too, as they have been praying for Emily and this surgery, also. We know our God is able, and we’re praying along with you for your specific requests. May He glorify Himself in this and work out the greatest good for Emily and you all through it. We continue to pray. Love you guys, Al and Penny Oesterling

  2. Dear Sweet Emily… you just shine with your beautiful smile… what an awesome picture of you and your family! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Meantime, I’m praying for you, and asking God to please answer all the requests, long and short-term! So, please, Dear Lord, hear us and thank you for keeping your hand on Emily and her Family, along with all Emily’s doctors and those caring for her!

    Thank you for all the beautiful pictures… every one of them hit my heart!
    Love you all, and please keep us posted when you can.

  3. Praying for you and Patty Fischer as you both undergo removal of the evil cancer from your bodies. May the Lord make it possible for each of you to have every single evil cell of cancer removed from your bodies that you both may live long and healthy lives filled with His blessings and the thankfulness only He can receive because of the miraculous outcomes of your surgeries! You both are loved infinitely, deeply, more than words can express by Your Father God Who created each of you with His love poured into each of your hearts that overflows in joy to all who know you both! We are asking for miracles in each of you and a testimony of His working in your bodies to free you both from the grip of the evil cancer from each of you to His honor and glory for I ask these things in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Amen!

  4. Praying for all of you.
    “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

  5. I am praying here in Tallahassee, FL for Emily and have been since hearing. Your family is a great testament to God’s grace! Praying for 100% recovery!! God is able!

  6. I have been accompanying your journey for several months now. I can’t remember what friend(s) we have in common, but we worship the same Savior! I’m praying for your family from Spain and am sure He is surrounding you with His comforting presence through this surgery and recovery. Waiting for an update on Emily.

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