While Paul was waking up after his biopsy, Dr. Futran came to the surgical waiting room to talk with me. One of the things that Paul and I liked so much about him during the last go-round was that he always took time to talk with us, to go over details and answer questions until we were comfortable. Friday was no different.
Paul’s already told you some of what Dr. Futran told me/us, but I figured I’d provide a little more medical detail. I always want as much information as possible, and these details made me feel a little better:
- The tumor is at the top-back-right of Paul’s mouth/throat, about where his right tonsil would be if he still had it. Because of its location (i.e. not in the base of the tongue, where Paul’s earlier tumor was), surgery to remove it (if that’s the route we go) should not have as much effect on Paul’s speech and swallowing as the first surgery did. Obviously, this is good.
- The tumor feels like it’s surrounded by soft tissue, rather than being attached to bone. This is also good. Paul’s previous tumor had attached to his jawbone, and removing that portion of the bone severed the nerve within it, leaving part of his face and mouth numb.
While we were talking, I told Dr. Futran that I’d read about Roger Ebert’s death the previous day. He allowed as how this was the sort of case – due to Ebert’s celebrity and the complications that plagued his treatment for thyroid cancer – that he and his colleagues discuss when they get together. But he also heard the fear behind my words: I’m afraid that my husband might die. And, in response to that unspoken fear, he said to me, “We can fix this.”
I’m holding on to those words.