-->Rob posting from Beth's account
Last week's doc appointments were better than expected, and Liz and I are very pleased with the medical team now in place to get me past All This. The team is lead by Dr. Hwu (pronounced "Who") at MD Anderson (which is, from our experience so far, every bit as good as you've heard). I could write for hours on the contents of and news from the appointments, but that risks some epically boring prose, and so offer here a high level summary. If you have any detailed questions, just let me know, and I will likely be happy to share thoughts and answers.
My healing from the surgeries is ahead of schedule and I am seeing a smart physical therapist here in Austin to restore arm strength and full range of motion. Meanwhile, Dr. Hwu doc puts my odds of melanoma recurrence at 30-35% across the next 10 years, which is a vast improvement from the statitstical landscape initially described to me (by other doctors). Additionally, Dr. Hwu is plugged into emerging research, and reports that what is on the horizon is exciting. He is confident that if there is a recurrence, it will be survivable with the help of newer treatments. (It is a relief to be around optimism of virtually any kind, especially when it includes optimism grounded in rigorous science.) Of most surprising import in the appointments was Dr. Hwu's advice that the single most important thing I can do to give my recovery the best chance is to reduce stress, which can affect immune system so strongly (and of course, wear sunscreen).
We now face some choices to determine what will be my course of ongoing treatment to prevent recurrence. It is a bit like a high stakes shell game (or maybe the 'monty hall paradox
'), as none of the treatment options have a great proven track record, and all of them are either experimental or have rough side effects. So, it is time for research, and then our best informed choice. We'll update when we know what the treatment will be, which will likely not be until the end of August after the next round of tests and appointments.
We continue to be inexpressibly lifted by and grateful for the support of our friends and family. Your love has kept us moving forward when it has seemed impossible. Your financial support is covering the costs of two surgeries and dozens of appointments so far, enabling us to focus on looking with open eyes and open hearts at this process.
All Our Love,
Rob and Liz