After routine x-rays and a cleaning by a very friendly dental hygienist, I met Dr. Goldberg - who started with the normal chit-chat while reading over my file. Suddenly, he stopped mid-sentence and asked, "Carcinoid cancer? What's that? I've never even heard of that before."
I launched into my normal spiel: "It's a rare form of cancer caused by neuroendocrine tumors, which secrete hormones. Unlike other cancers, these types of tumors can grow in many different places, including the lungs and digestive system."
Dr. Goldberg: "How did they find it?"
Me: "They actually found it by accident. I was having surgery to remove a potentially cancerous ovarian cyst when my doctor thought my appendix looked deformed so she removed it; the tumor was inside. They think I must have had the cancer for at least 5-years becuase the tumor was so big, and I had to get several lymph nodes removed and have a right hemicolectomy to stop it from spreading."
Dr. Goldberg: "What's a hemicolectomy?"
Me: "It's when you take out half of the colon. I had it done at Sloan Kettering, and they did an amazing job. The most incredible part is that my surgeon was able to do the entire surgery through one port - meaning, one laparoscopic incision."
Awkward Pause... followed by me asking Dr. Goldberg if he wanted to see the scar. He said he really did, but didn't want to ask. So, I gingerly, slightly lifted up my sweater to reveal the small quarter-size scar above my bellybutton.
He gasped: "I can't believe it. That's absolutely amazing. They were able to get all that out through there?" Yup. Believe it doc.
It is insanely crazy when you really think about it - what they can do with surgeries now. However, even with the less-invasive surgeries, it's important to note that not all laparoscopies are the same. In fact, Dr. Nash was the only doctor I consulted with who could do a single-incision laparscopic right hemicolectomy. Even the renowned NJ Cancer Institute, where my surgery was initially scheduled, would have made at least 3 incisions for their laparscopic procedure. One port not only reduces scarring (I already had three from the first surgery), but it is also safer because there is only one potential infection site. This was especially lucky for me since my wound did get infected...can you imagine if I had three infected, open wounds? Just another reason why (as my students say): I <3 Sloan Kettering.
Three-Incision Laparoscopic Surgery (top) - NJ Cancer Institute
Single-Port Laparoscopic Surgery (bottom) - Sloan Kettering