Surgery – Done

We checked in at 5:45 this morning.  Dr S (the surgeon) came in to see us almost immediately to give us the update and talk surgery.
With regards to the PET scan, he said that in fact the lung lesion(s) did light up on the PET scan, which is usually indicative of cancer.  Having said that, the original bone scan did NOT light up so we briefly thought it had not metastasized to the bone, when in fact it has.  My point being that Dr S is still not entirely sure if the lesion on the lung(s) is cancer or not.  Either way, he is not concerned at the moment as he says that can be dealt with later.

The PET scan also showed something “suspicious” in the pelvic area, however he physically looked in that area himself during surgery and could not see anything suspicious.  He called it a red herring.  Maybe there is something there, and maybe there is not.  We’ll hope for ‘not.  I’m quickly learning there is little about this disease that is certain. The scans – good or bad – are not always correct.

One of the things we didn’t discuss a lot before the surgery was the fact that Ben was carrying around a blood clot in the vein leaving his kidney.  That was very frightening for us, because if it had freed itself before or during the surgery it would have been fatal.  So there were two anesthiologists who met with us before the surgery, and who worked together during the surgery.  They explained that they would be inserting a camera down by his heart so that they could see if a piece broke off and if so they would do “their best” to stop it.  That was rather horrifying.  Dr S said that the clot was the first thing he would be going after once he opened Ben up.  Needless to say, I spent the first hour of the surgery on pins and needles praying that the surgeon did not walk in the waiting room to talk to me.

As you have figured out by now, the amazing Dr S got the clot out without any issue and all ended well.  There is no further concern there at all.

I spoke in person with Dr S after the surgery and he was very pleased with how it went.  Ben lost very little blood and did not require a transfusion.  There was quite a bit of cancer in the tissue around the kidney – more then they were aware from the scans – and also in the lymph nodes, but I believe he was saying that he got it all.  There was also a lot in the vein leaving the kidney – but I also believe he was successful in removing all of that.

What remains of course is the cancer in the spine / sacrum, but as far as I am aware there has been no negative progression since the ct scan. Dr S said that Ben should just recover (about 6 weeks) and then we will go to the oncologist and discuss next steps.

I hugged Dr S – he was very reassuring and extremely caring.  He talked about our kids and really cared about keeping Ben healthy for our family’s sake.  He seemed to be saying that despite the fact that the spine can’t be operated on, he expects Ben to carry on and we will just deal with the rest in good time.  Like I said before….treatment until there is a cure.

As I write this, I am with the girls at my sister’s house for the night.  Ben is still completely out of it and extremely medicated. His blood pressure is way too low and his heart rate is too high, but he has been through such a trauma I don’t think that is a surprise.  He is being closely monitored and they will call me if necessary.  I will go back in the morning but probably without the kids this time.  Jaime was extremely upset when she saw her Dad – she found it shocking to see him like that.

Unfortunately Zak has not been able to see Ben yet as he had to leave right after the surgery to go for his University interview.  And….he is in!  So that was great news I was able to pass on to Ben…he will probably not remember by morning.  Lol

In any case, I am exhausted and am going to sign off.  Ben does not have any means of communicating right now as he needs to sleep, so he won’t be returning texts, and he is not in a position to see anyone.

As usual, my family was amazing and have pulled through in ways too numerous to mention.  Zak was a rock, and also a huge thank you to Colleen, Martine and Michelle for sitting with us and just being there.  Thank you to everyone for all the texts, messages of encouragement and love, and for all the prayers that were clearly heard.  The Saint-Onge’s are very blessed.



Well, the Saint-Onge’s are prepping for tomorrow.  Things are starting to fall into place with a few minor glitches.  Nothing we can’t handle.

Tomorrow we will all make the trek down to VGH for Ben’s surgery.  We have to phone later today to find out what time the surgery will be.  We are hoping for earlier rather then later, as Zak was contacted for a University interview that has been scheduled for 3:15pm.  He was rather devastated to discover the conflict, but we told him that of course he must be there.  Life goes on, right?

So hopefully the surgery is in the morning and then we can bring him back for his interview, which he will nail, of course!  That was minor glitch number 1, but it’s straightened out now.

Minor glitch number 2 was Jaime discovering that she had made an error in her work schedule, and she works at 4 pm tomorrow.  Poor kid was horrified and scrambling to get that changed, but given that Zak has to be back at 3:15 anyway, she’s now going to come back for her shift and then I’ll bring her back to Vancouver afterwards to spend the night.  So that all worked out too.

Minor glitch number 3 is that Jaime suddenly and unexpectedly hurt her neck last night.   One minute everything was fine, and the next minute she was in horrible pain.  (I know that feeling.  Poor kid).  It could be due to the fact that she did this yesterday:

Yes, that is Jaime on the right after spontaneously competing in the Spartan race on Mt Seymour.  (Who doesn’t decide they would suddenly like to race in an obstacle course on a mountain?)

Anyway, she is currently in quite a bit of pain and unable to move.  She is laying on an ice pack, and can’t even take an Advil due to her allergy cleanse.  More about that later.

When we were at the hospital on Friday we had the anesthetist check the results of Ben’s PET scan.  He said there was no negative change since the CT scan…whew!!!!  As mentioned, I hadn’t wanted the results of the PET scan, but when faced with the fact that the Dr sitting in his office right in front of me knew the results, I just couldn’t resist.  I had to ask. I was so relieved by what he said.

So today we are all together as a family, with plans to go shopping for a suit for Zak (grad gift) and just enjoying each other’s company before our little world gets shaken up again.  Fingers crossed that Jaime’s neck issues work themselves out.  Honestly I probably would have taken her up to the hospital for an X-ray (she is in that much pain) if it wasn’t for the fact that we will be there all day tomorrow anyway.

I’ll leave you all with this thought that I am working hard to focus on each day:

Hug your loved ones.

Wendy xo

Life B/c and A/c

I am starting to think of life in terms of B/c (Before cancer) and A/c (After cancer).  I still refuse to capitalize the ‘c’.  (Don’t worry…I’m still just as anal as I ever have been about spelling and grammar.  This error is on purpose.)

The B/c and A/c works something like this:  I find an old shopping list laying around and I think to myself “oh, I wrote that one B/c. Back when life was normal.”   Or I’m watching a particular tv show and I think “Ben used to download this for me, B/c.” You get the picture.  Probably not the most productive use of time, but its what life has become.

Last week was good.  This week…not so much.  The anxiety of waiting for surgery is taking its toll, and Ben seems to be having some side effects from the medication.  He is really, really tired, which is good in the sense that he is finally getting some sleep, but not great when he is trying to take care of business and spend quality time with the kids and I before surgery.  I emailed our GP about an hour ago to discuss the side effects that Ben is experiencing and inquire if we should be heading off to the hospital.  Hopefully we are able to just go and see him today. Neither of us relish the thought of sitting in the hospital emerg all day.

We do not yet have the PET Scan results.  Our oncologist is away at a conference on kidney cancer that ends today (I think) so we should hear soon.  Like I said before – I don’t really see the point in finding out the results before surgery anyway.  I hope he doesn’t call.

On the upside, Zach celebrated his 19th birthday on June 1st, and despite all that is going on, it made us very happy.  Seeing how far Zach has come in the last year provides us both with a huge sense of relief and pride.  Unfortunately, with that comes some stress and anxiety about how Zach will continue to handle all that is happening, and whether or not he will succumb to the stress he is currently experiencing and go back down that terrifying path he was on.  He is surrounded by love and a lot of support, so we remain optimistic that will not happen.

Here’s a couple of pics from his 19th birthday BBQ.  It was so much fun to have his friends over for a ‘normal’ time that we never got to experience in the past.  The day Zach finally reads this blog, we want him to know how thrilled we were to host that party, even though Dad fell asleep (!).  Beyond thrilled.  It literally filled us with joy.

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Here is a picture of the cake his friends surprised him with:


And some sibling love while he opened his gifts:


So that is three “A/c” birthdays down, one to go.  (Mine was squeezed in there too, but turning 45 doesn’t have the same thrill as turning 19.)  This blonde beauty turns 14 in a few weeks:


Tomorrow we have managed to get an appointment with a naturopath downtown.  The wait to see this guy is at least 6 weeks, but they had a cancellation so we are in.  Thank Heavens.  This naturopath only sees cancer patients and he will work in conjunction with our oncologist.  He is not cheap, and our benefits do not cover naturopathic treatment which annoys me to no end.  (Turns out it is not cheap to get cancer in Canada. Who knew?) It is widely accepted now that there is a place for eastern medicine to work in conjunction with western medicine.  We are so far behind the times here in Canada.  Regardless, we will figure it out like everything else.

On Friday we will be at VGH for a consultation with the anesthetist and the nurses who will take care of My Man during surgery. I hope that Ben leaves there feeling more reassured.  He is scared of the surgery.  It causes me a lot of pain to see Ben afraid. I have discovered that when you love someone more then yourself, it actually physically hurts you to see them in emotional distress.  I sometimes just want to spontaneously lean over and toss my cookies on the ground.  I so wish I could take that away from him and carry the weight for him.  If there was one thing I could do for him right now, that would be it.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.   Matthew 6:34  I try to remember this.

Just to add to the craziness that is the Saint-Onge’s lives, this girl finally had her long awaited appointment with an allergist who discovered that she has many significant allergies.  She is now on a strict elimination diet (not so easy for me to monitor or prepare for right now) and therefore is very cranky.  I don’t blame her.  She basically gets to eat rice and canned peaches.


I look forward to the day when life is a bit smoother.  Life without challenges is a bit boring, but boring might be nice for a bit! In the meantime, I try to remember:


We have hope, and in addition we have a LOT of love.  So there’s that.  We’ll get through, and then we’ll be able to enjoy “Life A/c.”

Love each other a lot.

Wendy xo