Apr
24
2012

Removal of the Tumor from my Throat

Weeks after my surgery, I can confidently say I'm fully recovered. No more talk of cancer!

Many have been asking for an update to my health, and this post is my attempt to bring you up to date. I had a tumor removed from my throat last month. Scary to think of, I know. Everything is fine now and I can finally say that I am fully recovered (praise God!). This is a long post, but I enjoyed writing it. It is nice to reflect on a traumatic experience and really see how God took care of me and my family.

January 27th was an exciting day. I drove Chris to Denver to fly out to Minnesota to help manage his first live Ken Davis comedy concert. I was planning to have fun with the kids: make popcorn and watch some Ken Davis videos (that’s who daddy is working for!). I returned home and got working. Without hardly a thought, I ate a raw carrot, a favorite snack of mine. As the evening wore on, I felt as if the carrot never made it all the way down. I kept swallowing, and the swallowing became difficult. We watched our movie and got everyone down for the night. By the time I went to bed, the swallowing was painful. I woke often in the night with this pain every time I swallowed. The pain shot up my chest and back and across my shoulders. It was a very uncomfortable night’s rest.

The next morning I tried to to push things through by eating a banana. It only added to my discomfort. I called my doctor, made an appointment, and asked a close friend to come over to be with the children. I told the doctor that I could not eat – only sip – and that swallowing caused me pain. He scheduled me for a dilation of the esophagus – a fairly standard procedure that I had five years ago – the next morning.

I needed to go in and have this procedure, but Chris was out of town (what bad timing!). My girl friends stepped up to help. I thank God for my church and friends; they are filled with wonderful ladies who helped by bringing over meals and watching kiddos. Poor Chris really wanted to be home for me but could not. I tried to tell him not to worry, that I would be fine, but he was still anxious being so far away. My friend Wanda took me to the hospital, such a good friend to take me in and even pray with me (she has six children herself!).

The procedure went fine. I woke up in my room and there was Wanda with a big smile on her face. Chris had already called and talked with Wanda. The pain in my esophagus was gone, finally! A nurse gave me juice to drink. I told her that I was a busy lady with 16 children. Pretty soon I had a couple nurses in the room all asking questions. Their curiosity helped me wake up. I was finally able to talk with Chris myself and I reassured him that I did feel better and that I was in good hands with Wanda and the room of nurses.

The Discovery of a Lump

We all thought the drama was over, but that was just the beginning. The surgeon discovered a lump in my throat, even took some pictures of it with the scope he used for the dilation. Another procedure was scheduled the next week to further investigate. This procedure Chris would be home. I was looking forward to him being with me. The thought of a lump in my throat was not reassuring, though I felt a peace about it and wasn’t too worried at the time.

This next procedure was an endoscopic ultrasound meant to measure the size of the lesion/lump and get a needle biopsy done. The lesion turned out to be bigger than first thought, measuring 5 cm, taking up about 3/4 of the space in my esophagus. This doctor was just as puzzled as the first. It was not ordinary. They started calling the lesion a “tumor,” but hesitated to call it cancer. It seemed like they didn’t want to say too much.

Another appointment was scheduled, an appointment to explain the news of the biopsy. We were told that some spindle cells were found and some atypical others that they just did not know much about. The biopsy was not conclusive, it could or couldn’t be cancerous. We began to wonder if the biopsy was even worth it. The doctors consistently seemed puzzled, insisting that the lesion was abnormal, unusually large, and “probably no big deal.” There was talk of the worst case scenarios – cancer and chemo – always coupled with the low probabilities. Still, hardly reassuring. All the analysis wasn’t adding up to much. The growth was in my throat, and any which way you looked at it, it needed to come out. But first, a CAT scan was scheduled.

Chris’s grandma had throat cancer in the 80s – so bad that she lost her voice box in the operation. He talked a lot with his mom, reconstructing the medical past that occurred back then in his family. The worst thoughts crept in. The CAT scan came and went, and we finally got a surgeon (a doctor who could actually do something about this problem). What a very nice man he was, he took the time to explain what needed to be done and he showed us a model of a throat and lungs and how everything in your chest area is so close together. He seemed very confident in what he had to do. He would go in through my right side through my ribcage and to my esophagus, peal from behind and capture the tumor in a mesh bag. The tumor was located in between the lining of my esophagus and towards the back off the left nearer to my heart. He, too, figured that the tumor was probably not cancerous and he would not be taking any lymph nodes.

Surgery

After analyzing our calendars, we decided the best time for surgery was the very next day. Whew! What a whirlwind the rest of that day was. We went home but I had to be back at the hospital later for pre-opt and blood draws. That night I went to sleep pretty exhausted. I woke very early the next morning but once again had to fast, as I had to check in just before 7:00 AM and we had a 40 minute drive.

Soon I was tucked in once again to a comfy bed and ready to go back to surgery. I woke up and felt very cold and I felt like I couldn’t breath very well. I asked the person on my left if they could hold my hand but I don’t remember much else. When I woke I saw Chris and was very glad. I also looked at the clock on the wall and it said 4 PM. Wow! It was late. I noticed that I was pretty uncomfortable and sure enough I could not speak up. My right arm was so sore I could hardly lift it. I could not get a deep breath and my ribs ached. I soon found out why I couldn’t get a deep breath: the surgeon had to collapse my right lung in order to get to the tumor, and I had a tube to drain fluid from my lung. He had used video assisted thoracic surgery to minimize incisions – which was good – but towards the end of the surgery he had to use regular tools as the tumor was a bit stubborn. All of this was much more painful that I had mentally prepared for.

I don’t remember much of the night at the hospital. I was pretty out of it, sort of a blessing as I was in a lot of pain. It was a difficult night as I kept waking up. The hospital was noisy, reminding me why I enjoy home birth, all sorts of noises and buzzers and beeps.

I felt a bit better the next morning. We never did turn on the TV. Chris read to me from one of my favorite books, The Hiding Place, and he read it with a funny Polish accent. I enjoyed listening to him and it passed the time. Wanda had my 3 older boys and Hannah at her house and she stopped by once without them and once with them. It was nice to have a visitor and to see some of the kids. I improved greatly as the day rolled on. The tube was taken out of my lung and I was able to take a shower. My blood pressure improved some and I was ready to go home.

The week was slow to recover. It took longer than we had anticipated. Friends whipped up a meal plan schedule, so very nice of them, keeping our large family well fed. I was on a liquid diet not able to swallow as I was still healing, but the meals added excitement to our home. The kids would wonder what was coming next.

Prognosis: Cancer Free!

We went back to the surgeon one week later. Though the surgery went fine, he told us that it was a little bit more involved then he expected. The good news was finally validated: the growth was totally benign. Yippee! He did say, though, that the tumor was not what he thought it was. He even presented it at a medical board earlier that week. The growth was called a Schwannoma, a tumor of the nerves, very rare to appear along the esophagus. He said it was only the 15th one found in the US, which explained why all the other doctors were puzzled by it. The surgeon said my lungs look beautiful and that I am very healthy and I should go and have a wonderful life.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. It was an unstable couple of months, but God’s hand was in it all the time. It means a lot to have good friends like you who will take time to pray and help out. I’m feeling very thankful and blessed.

About Wendy Jeub

Yes, Wendy Jeub has brought 16 children into the world, and loves each and every one of them. So much so, she'd welcome more!

  • http://twitter.com/raisingrealmen Raising Real Men

    Oh friends, we can’t tell you how delighted we are to hear this! After Hal’s stage IV cancer a couple of years ago, we were so worried about you guys. God is so good!

    Hal & Melanie Young

    • Wendy Jeub

       Thank you ! You guys are just amazing and your stories of battling health issues is so inspiring. Praise God that all of you are still here. Hugs!

  • Sheila (UK)

    So glad to hear that everything went well!
    These situations are always scary but God is always in control.
                  God bless you Wendy!

  • Nicole

    very relieved! Thank you for your detailled post!
    15 persons out of how many?!!!
    My sicknes touches 1 out of 100 000… I thought it was not common but you beat me to this I think!!!! (it is always a subject of teasing at our house!!)
    Take care of yourself!

  • Ninabi

    I’m sorry you had to go through such a painful procedure but what happiness in knowing that sweet word, benign.   You are so important to so many people and I am glad you are okay for everyone’s sake.   

  • http://www.kjllovemylife.blogspot.com ~kjl

    Great news, Wendy! Praising God with you. :)

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.com/ Tiffany Stuart

    happy dance to NO cancer..

    • Wendy Jeub

       Thank you Tiffany!

  • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

    Wow!  So cool to hear the whole story.  I’m so thankful you are better….and going to be fine!  :)  And, lucky me, I get to spend a whole week with you next week!  :)  

    • Wendy Jeub

      Thank you! Really looking forward to seeing you!

  • Ken

    So I concur with the Doctor.  Go have a wonderful life.  What a sweet outcome to a scary situation.  BTW Why do all these diseases end in “noma”  I think it means name.  So you had that thing with the “Schwan name”  Can’t wait to see you next week and rejoice with you.  God is good.  All the time.

    • Anon

      Actually, the suffix is -oma, meaning “tumor”.  Other examples of its usage include adenoma, glioma, and meningioma.  So Schwannoma refers to a tumor of the Schwann cells, which are part of the nervous system.

    • http://jeubfamily.com Wendy Jeub

       Thank you so much Ken. I know you really mean it. I had a wonderful time at SCORRE 12! Thank you for all the time you and your team put into it.

      • http://www.jeubfamily.com/ Chris Jeub

        I think Ken is alluding to his diet. Shwanoma means “Schwanns no more.”

        • Ken

           No Chris, I meant Swans.  I eat swans.  They are very rare, taste like chicken, and the neck is an entire meal.  Swans!

          • http://www.jeubfamily.com/ Chris Jeub

            Eating swans? That’s just not “noma.”

            Don’t condone it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvFYc5oYgIM

            (Anyone reading this bizarre exchange, PLEASE click through to that YouTube video)

            • http://jeubfamily.com Wendy Jeub

               LOL! Love it!

            • Hailey

              Thanks Chris! lol! I just spent an hour watching ken davis videos on You Tube when I shoulda been doing something productive! But I was hooked after the don’t condone it video!

  • Susan

    So glad that everything turned out well for you.  Surgery is never fun … but so thankful that God has gifted men and women to understand these things.  Blessings <3

  • Nancee Delhousay

    Wendy, WOW you have really been through it dear firend.  I am so thnakful that all was clear. I have been praying for you and am so glad that you are recovered. God bless you,
    Nancee

    • http://jeubfamily.com Wendy Jeub

       Thank you Nancee! You are real doll. I look forward to a face-to-face soon.

  • Marti

    Thanks for letting us know the story behind your surgery, Wendy!  Praising God with you that all went well, and you are back with your wonderful family!  May He continue to keep you whole and healthy for His honor and glory!  Celebrate your healing by singing your praises to Him! Shout to the Lord… (but only if your throat is up to it!  :) 

  • Erika Shupe

     Oh!  Yikes!  I missed that you were moving through this tough water – PTL that you’re just fine.  *sigh*  *hugs*  –Erika

  • Janelle C.

    Now I want to see the financial post on how God took care of you and how did Samaratin’s do with payment and all?! Just curious if having two large claims in under a years matters? Even so, I’m glad you are fine and healed up! Keep up the good work!

    • http://jeubfamily.com Wendy Jeub

       Samaritan is wonderful! This is actually the 3rd major thing in the last 6 months. God is so good and he always takes care of us.

  • http://creatingtreasures.blogspot.com/ Tereza Crump

    wonderful to hear you are up and well. :)

    Weren’t you nursing your last baby? how did he fair with Mom being away??

    good health and long life to you!!!

    terea

    • Wendyjeub

       Thank you Tereza! Yes baby Elijah had a little bit of a hard time because he is nursing full-time. He has been such a little trooper through all of this medical stuff. I would just pump and dump and he got a nice bottle at home. Now he is right back at it and we are a happy team. I am so glad to be able to give to him in this way.

  • Kathy Earwood

    Wendy,
       Thank you so much for sharing this. My mom is on the same journey right now. I can’t believe how God led me to this entry tonight. How encouraging……..hers is also 5cm. It is right behind her heart. She has heart disease and is diabetic as well. They keep saying she is such a very high risk with this surgery. We all have been nervous, but trusting God through it…….this article is so WOW!!!  
                     Kathy Earwood

    • http://jeubfamily.com Wendy Jeub

       Hello Kathy, Praying for you and your mom. Glad that my post encouraged you. It is hard when they tell you that this ‘tumor’ has to be taken out. My prayer is that all goes well and that you will have those Jesus moments all along the way. Blessings and hugs.

  • Jenny

    Wwndy,  thank you for sharing.  Our Father made you such a strong one and he sure did bless you with wonderful people.  So happy to hear you are doing well.  hugs

  • kristinZ

    Hi, Wendy, thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad that you’ve been fully recovered. Similar to your case, newly discovered accidently that I have one of those rare schwannoma grew out of my lower esophagus. I don’t have much uncomfort except food does get stuck if I eat fast and with a big bite. My family doctor and the surgeon I went to see all are ok with monitoring the size before the surgery…The surgeon told me that keyhole surgery is not preferred in my case as the tumor is also connected to my aorta and inferior vena cava… I’ll try to see another surgeon to get different opinion in this December while we are back to Houston from Australia. KristinZ

  • KristinZ

    hi, Wendy, I’m wondering where hospital you went for your surgery. I’m still looking for a good surgeon for my future surgery in case there is a need. thanks

  • pam

    Wendy Jeub
    I just found out that I have a mass in my throat. The way the doctor explained it, it sounds like what you had. I get scheduled for another scan on Monday. Please pray for me and my family. I just lost my daddy last month. I am scared for my family but I am ready for whatever God has in store for me. Thank you for your story. Pam

  • Michele

    I am having this very similar surgery for what they expect to be the exact same thing next week. It is difficult to reach so they cannot confirm the type of tumor but the size and location and process I have been through sound so very similar.
    I am curious how you would explain your recovery process and length as I am trying to determine when I can return to work.
    Let me know when you felt “ok” after surgery.
    Thank you!

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Hi Michele, The recovery time was about 3 days. The incisions and bandages just needed a bit of time.
      The doctor will probably talk to you about when you can expect to return to work.
      Warm Blessings, Wendy