My roommate Gary was diagnosed with Stage IV, inoperable pancreatic cancer (that’s spread to his liver) in March of this year. He has a fabulous doctor (finally) and under the circumstances, he’s doing very well. He’s undergoing chemo and his doctor seems to think he’ll be around for at least a few years.
Gary had a liver biopsy four weeks ago. The biopsy was for the removal of two cancer-laden nodules in the liver. The nodules responded favorably to a certain combination of drugs and so that’s the chemo combo he’s receiving. Very complicated, but it makes perfect sense.
Fast forward to Saturday the 15th. He had chemo on Friday. The right side of his abdomen, where the liver and pancreas are located, was red, red, red. AND here’s the crazy part… there was a lump at the top of his biopsy incision. The lump was round and dome shaped, about the size of a silver dollar, and soft. He showed me the lump and naturally I pushed on it and it was soft and squishy.
His bedroom is upstairs and mine is down. He called me Sunday at 2:30 a.m. I went flying up the stairs because he only calls me when it’s an emergency. He was standing in his bathroom in front of the sink and there was a steady stream of liquid arcing out of the top of his incision. It looked like he was peeing, but it was coming out of his abdomen. HOLY CRAP. I stood and stared, not really knowing what to do. He was white as a sheet and shaking like a leaf. We bandaged it up and I called his doctor’s office. His associate was on call and said that it was most likely an infection that had worked it’s way out – which is what infections do. He had me take Gary’s temp, which was 96.5 (low because of the cancer, he said). He would have been worried if his temp was high. He told me to make sure to schedule an MRI with Gary’s regular doc (Dr. Robert Nagourney) on Monday.
The crazy thing is that there was so much pressure from the liquid (a mixture of pus and blood -sorry – gross, I know!) that it BLEW OUT A STITCH. That’s some determination, if you ask me. It continued to ooze out – no more arcing thank gawd, because that was just too freaky. I decided that we needed to get all the goo out, so we squeezed (like a BIG ZIT – gross again!) and squeezed and pushed and pushed. Unfortunately it keeps replenishing itself, but it’s getting better, I think.
Gary had an appointment with the surgeon and his oncologist on Tuesday. They both told him that it wasn’t an infection after all, it’s called a seroma (an accumulation of fluid in the location of the surgery) and is just one of the effects of chemo and cancer. Neither of them said it was really anything to worry about. Easy for them to say!
And there you have it.