Sunday, March 08, 2009

Waiting for surgery

A Green Woodpecker nodded and nibbled on our front lawn yesterday. For twenty minutes, not twenty feet from our front window, it strutted like a soldier on parade, its vermillion headpiece contrasting with its two-tone green uniform as it stiffly picked off insects that had been drawn above ground by the slightly warmer weather.

It was enough to attract us into the garden for the first clear up of the year. Two days ago we had woken up to blizzards with snow settling on the cars and drive, but Saturday was just about Spring. Now was the time to deadhead the hydrangeas, to cut back last year’s growth from the Sedum and to pull down the dead ivy from our cherry tree.

We gave the lawn a first cut, but first we had to buy a new lawnmower. We needed to be able to start it with an easy pull, and our old Mountfield was a terrible starter that needed strong stomach muscles as you yanked on the draw string. And I won’t be able to do that for a while.

On Tuesday, I go into hospital for abdominal surgery. This has been hanging over me since last September. At that time a CT scan found an enlarged lymph node in my right iliac fossa. Despite many investigations no explanation for it was found. I had hoped that it would just go away, but a recent CT scan shows it to be still there, and the only way of finding out what it means is to cut it out.

The radiologist suspects carcinoid, a rare slow growing tumor that typically secretes serotonin, but all the tests that I had for that were negative. Colonoscopy showed no cancer of the cecum and the biopsies were negative. So we really don’t know what we are going to find. I guess the explanation with the best outcome
is that there has been an old appendix abscess, but there are also more worrying possibilities. It could be a non-secretory carcinoid, or one that secreted another neuroendocrine hormone, like parathormone (I have a slightly raised blood calcium, but so do thousands of other normal people). Or it could be something more distressing.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare says, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” Hemingway had a variation on this in ‘A Farewell to Arms’ “the brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them.” Whichever is true, waiting for an operation is a challenge. The more you know, the more you imagine the worse.

Nevertheless, I face the future with equanimity. The sermon this morning was on 1 Peter 1:8: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” The worst that could happen is that I will see my Savior sooner. Were that to be the case, it would be very sad for those who love me, but for me, better by far.


Anonymous said...

Will be praying your surgery is a success and nothing serious is found.The waiting is the worst,but I know God will be with you every step of the way.
Take Care & Keep us posted.
Love In Christ,
Debbie Light

Pat said...

Impossible to imagine a world that you are not in......I pray for the best outcome. You are in my thoughts as you face this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Terry: I am praying for you. Even though I don't know you personally you have been such a blessing to me and to the people that care about me. You have answered my questions and concerns about my CLL diagnosis/treatment and given me comfort with increased knowledge to make wise decisions.

Your blog has also been a source of encouragement and enjoyment for me. It also has helped challenge me in my faith. Your heart for hurting people is so reflect Jesus so well in that way.

With care and prayers from far away,

Liz W.
St. Paul, MN

Marcia said...

It must be like every step of my treatment. The unknown bodily reactions, wondering what comes next, and the more possibilities you know, the more to wonder about (and you know WAY more than I do...). Before chemo, I was even moved to write an email to my daughters to say those things I would regret not having said.
For myself, I believe as you do -- it would be far better. Yet, I would like to see how my granddaughter grows...
Blessings on your wait, and on the results.

Anonymous said...

I assume you feel well. I would submit that that makes it likely to be one of the less worrisome possibilities.

Nevertheless, best wishes for you. We with CLL know the special feeling of something hanging over one's head.

Brian Koffman said...

Best of luck. Here's hoping for some benign entity that neither you or your surgeon considered.
You are in my prayers

J.R. said...

To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. A far better place I agree. However, more than most, you give hope, not only of body, but of spirit. May the LORD bless you with comfort and healing.

Anonymous said...

My best wishes go out to you Terry. Good luck on Tuesday. My prayers are with you. This shall also pass and hopefully all will be well.

Irv Noble

Michelle said...

Good luck Dr. Terry!!

I send you healing thoughts and light!!! Be well!!!


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr.Hamblin,
many of us do not know you personally.. but we think we do, because of your great help to us, CLL people. You are a true blessing to us. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Hope your surgery is a success. God does know where you are needed most. He will hold your hand and provide comfort.. and this is the best thing to know wherever we are.

Anonymous said...

Hope and pray that you will know the help you have given to the sick returned to you in blessing x 1000plus You have a special ministry to us CLLers and sometimes it is harder to receive than to give - but now is the time to receive blessings!

Terry Hamblin said...

Thank you all for your good wishes and prayers. There will be no more blogging for a week or two.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to get you back. You are in the thoughts and prayers of us all.

Anonymous said...

Praying that your outcome will be positive today, Dr. Hamblin. We will be praying for your speedy, complete recovery. Stacie

Anonymous said...

As you know, Doctor, if God is with you (and He is), who can be against you. Please accept the prayers and good wishes from a fellow CLL patient with whom you shared invaluable email advice a few years ago in Boston, USA.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck Terry. Your in my thoughts and prayers

John Liston

Unknown said...


You are in my thoughts and prayers. I am praying for the best possible outcome.

Houston, Texas
(CLL group)

Anonymous said...

Just heard about your surgery. I hope it all went well and I wish you a speedy recovery.
Take care and all the best,
Dennis Bayer
Sausalito, CA.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Hamlin,
I wanted to wish you the very best and a quick recovery. I was diagnosed in Sept. 2003 with b-cell CLL under the care of NYU Medical Center's Edward Amorosi and consult regularly with Dr. Rai at LIJ. I am very lucky to have them but I want you to know how much I value your writings and experience. You, sir, are a great communicator and a tremendous asset to our community. You are the perfect example of why the web is so important for the spread of truth and logic. Thank you very much for all you have taught us and may God bless you and your family,
Marc Kalech (

Chonette said...

I hope all went well on tuesday and you have a speedy recovery to enjoy many more Spring days.
I will be looking forwards to read your blog when you are back on your feet.
I will be at the Royal Free from Sunday, a cold virus delayed things for two weeks so the worst still to come for me.
Will be thinking of you

Anonymous said...

dear doctor...two days past surgury and i am hoping and praying that it was successful and all you have to deal with now is the discomfort of abdominal will pass. you are a blessing for us all.

Anonymous said...

Prayers going up for you, our friend.. May the Good Lord bless & keep you & yours.
Marge Campbell
Littlefield, TX USA

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Hamblin,

My thoughts, prayers and best wishes of wellness are with you.
Our Lord Jesus will keep you in His graces, Terry!
Here's for a minimal diagnosis, with a complete cure, and a short recuperation time!
Our love and appreciation go out to you for all of your help in our understanding of CLL in our lives.

Dick Syfrett, in Florida

Dick Syfrett, in Florida said...

Dear Dr. Hamblin,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time and the weeks to come.
Our Lord Jesus will be with you,and your family, and take care of you!
May the surgeon find little of concern and remove the carcinoid tumor with no spread of cancer to the adjacent lymph nodes.
Thank you for all you have done in your CLL studies and the comfort you have given to us CLL'rs worldwide.
Have a complete, quick and fast recovery. Again, our prayers are with you and your family.

Elsa D. said...

I only discovered your blog today, get well fast to come back :)
I have had 8 abdominal surgeries (for liposarcoma) so here is my advice: the more you walk after your surgery the faster they will let you get out of the hospital. Good luck

Anonymous said...

A birthday surgery? I hope all went well and you are now hearing not only Happy Birthday, but are given the gift of a benign mass. Take good care of yourself Terry.

Jenny Lou Park

Anonymous said...

Dear Terry,
You are in my thoughts and prayers

early 60s professional living in Jersey exurbia said...

Terry you are in my prayers. Godspeed my friend.

Anonymous said...

Your CLL fan club members and supporters are eager to learn how you are feeling. We continue to pray for you daily.


kcdaniels said...

Praying for you Dr. Terry! Waiting to hear a good report!!! Our God is able!