Friday, July 12, 2019

Lily's Journey- Part 2: The Biopsy

There is so much to share with Lily’s journey so I am writing them in parts. You can read Part 1 here.


Once we found out Lily’s MRI showed a tumor, things started to happen pretty fast. We found out on May 8th on a Wednesday.  I don’t think I slept at all that night because my heart was hurting for our little girl and my mind was racing with the worst thoughts that she could have cancer. I mean, that is why we were meeting with an oncologist the next day, right? We share the news with our close family members and all of us felt the same way- a mix between sadness and fear of the unknown.

The next morning (May 9th), we had an early appointment with Dr. Brown, the pediatric oncologist at Memorial University Medical Center.

I really didn’t know how the appointment was going to go. I think I got ahead of myself and was thinking she would tell us about stages, survival rate, etc.  Scary stuff.  However, the first thing she told us is that we needed to find out whether the tumor was benign or malignant. To identify it, a biopsy would need to be performed. Also, we needed to find out whether the tumor was contained to one area or if it had spread so we were scheduled for a PET scan and CT scan.

According to the initial MRI results, the tumor was favored to be cancerous in nature. But only pathology could correctly identify it.  The next step was to determine who would perform the biopsy and how it would be done since the tumor was both behind the eye and extended into the base of the skull. 

It was decided the best surgeon for the task was Dr. Petruzelli, an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon. We made an appointment with him as well as scheduled the PET scan the following Monday.

Throughout our time in the clinic, everyone at Memorial was wonderful. The child-life specialists were great with Lily offering her support in case she had any questions and guiding her through scary blood draws and IVs. They also helped her to understand every procedure she was about to have done making her feel so much more comfortable about it all. It was very helpful for us too as this was a whole new world to navigate. At this point, Lily only knew we were just trying to figure out what was wrong with her eye. We didn't even know how to tell her she had a tumor.

Monday, May 13th: Our day was booked. We were to have our PET scan (full body scan) at 9 am, break for lunch and come back for the results, then meet with Dr. Petruzelli in the afternoon. We were happy things were happening fast because we were anxious to have some answers, but at the same time I felt really overwhelmed. We had seen so many doctors over the past few weeks and I really had no time to process what was going on. But still, there was no time for a pause. 

Lily did great with the PET scan and the wait seemed like forever for the results. Finally, the results were in and Dr. Brown came into the patient room with a smile. The PET scan showed the tumor was contained to one area. It was instant relief to know, even if the tumor was malignant, it had not spread. We were just very grateful for the positive news.

Lily in the clinic getting poked

Our next appointment of the day was with Dr. Petruzelli.  He was excellent with Lily. He explained her tumor and biopsy procedure in a way she could understand. He told her there was an unwanted visitor in her head. He was going to check on the visitor and we would have to ask him/her to leave because it doesn’t belong there. I thought it was a great way to explain this for her.

I figured the meeting would be to discuss an upcoming biopsy to be scheduled in the near future. I didn’t realize it meant the very next day. He wanted Lily to have a CT scan and be admitted to the hospital that night. The biopsy would be performed first thing the following morning on Tuesday. Again, things were happening fast.  That’s the crazy part. We really take time for granted. I think that was the hardest part of this whole situation.  I wasn’t allowed time to feel things, to release them, and/or accept what was going on. 

She was resting while the "glowing medicine" spread through her body.

Going through the PET scan
Admitted to the hospital

Neither Lily nor I were prepared we would be staying at the hospital that night. However, we got settled into our room, Lily had the CT scan and then we tried to get some rest.  I didn’t rest all that night but I prayed. I prayed for Dr. Petruzelli, I prayed the biopsy would yield positive news and I prayed for strength; Both for me and for Lily.

The day of the biopsy. Still smiling :)

The biopsy was at 7 am. Lily was nervous, but we both smiled and then she was taken away. Noah and I then waited. It took two hours, but Dr. Petruzelli came out with a big smile on his face. He was happy with the samples he collected for pathology and from the look of the tumor, he believed it to be benign! It was nothing concrete until the pathology results but we were elated.  We were hanging on to every bit of positive that we could. 

Recovering from the biopsy and reading get well cards

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