Update: Shayna’s recovery from surgery, and medical prognosis

September 10, 2012 | By | Add a Comment


09Sept12: Shayna smiling in the sun during our one of our walks

  • Shayna’s surgery on 9/4 went as well as her doctor hoped: He believes he got the entire tumor off of her liver, and inspected her other organs and saw no evidence that the tumor had spread.  There was minimal internal bleeding, and he was able to sew up her liver (and belly) without complication.
  • Shayna was discharged from the hospital the following day, as hoped, and has been recovering remarkably quickly.  See a brief video of me visiting her in post-op, the night of her surgery, here.  A chronology of short videos of her since she returned  home are posted hereAt right is a pic of Shayna from earlier today (9/9).
  • The initial pathology report shows that the tumor was liver cancer, but it is a slow-growing one, and one that may never come back, especially as there is no evidence it has spread.  The surgeon has declared her to now be “cancer-free,” although of course that may change in the future. To avoid that, however…
  • We will be employing a combination of ongoing diagnostics to detect any changes early, and holistic and traditional therapies to kill off whatever may remain of the cancer, and prevent it from coming back.

Details on all the above are posted down-page.

This picture was taken at 3:35pm on Sept. 5, a little over 24 hours after Shayna’s surgery.  It was taken in one of the hospital’s examining rooms, the first one taken of us after Shayna was discharged from the hospital.  She ran into my arms and wanted me to give her a belly scratch, which I couldn’t do, so I gave her a spine-scratch, her next-favorite thing.  The joy was overflowing in that room.

This is the first video I took of Shayna after she came home, about 36 hours after her surgery.  (I also took a short video of the ride home!).  You can see for yourself how well she’s doing, and how happy she is to be home:

Thanks to all the people from around the world who sent in donations, warm wishes and prayers for Shayna.  Although I am not religious, I am spiritual, and could feel the good vibes from all the people who were thinking of Shayna as she endured her surgery on 9/4 and after.

It was also in tribute to the Shayna’s spirit, and my desire to put us both on a really good spiritual plane before she went in for surgery, that I decided to give us both a gift – of one day at Virginia Beach, just before her procedure.  You can see pics and video of this wonderful, all-too-brief trip here.




(1) What was the tumor?

The pathology report, produced by what I’m told is the top lab of its kind in the country (in Colorado), shows that it was a form of liver cancer, called hepatic carcinoma.  Shayna’s surgeon, Dr. Kevin Stiffler, said while this not as positive of news as the tumor being completely benign, it’s not the worst either.  It is, in his words, one of the best results we could have hoped for, because in many cases, with a tumor that could be completely removed in a straightforward fashion, it either won’t come back, or if it does, it is slow growing, and can be removed again.  That is not to say that it hasn’t and won’t spread.  He did check her other organs, saw nothing, but said microscopic portions of it may have escaped his eye and touched other organs, etc., but he is pretty convinced that he got the entire thing.

The really great news is that for now, he has declared her to be “cancer-free,” meaning that from all the diagnostic tests and his procedure of opening her up and removing this tumor, there is absolutely no indication that any cancer is left.  Clearly, that in itself is reason enough for celebration.

(2) What is our follow-up plan?

Follow-up will consist of two things: (a) regular diagnostics, and (b) holistic and traditional therapies:

(a) Regular diagnostics: Every three months for the first year, we will be doing ultrasounds (which detected the tumor in the first place).  Assuming everything is clear, we’ll move to every six months for the second year.   If she’s all clear then, we’ll go to annual ultrasounds.  Along with this imaging diagnostic will be regular bloodwork and urinalysis, to detect any recurrence early.

(b) Holistic and traditional therapies: This is where our wonderful holistic veterinarian, Dr. Janice Raab, will come in.  She is the vet who said she believed she could reverse a kidney condition Shayna developed last year – and did exactly that, with Chinese herbal medication along with traditional medicine. Moving forward, now that Dr. Raab knows exactly what we’re dealing with, she will be designing a course of therapy that involves these materials, plus other therapies including acupuncture, to both help kill off whatever cancer cells remain, and prevent any from recurring.

Between these approaches, plus all the physical exercise and spiritual enjoyment that comprise Shayna’s life, I of course have reason to be hopeful that we’ve beaten this thing, and that barring any tragedies, we have many more happy years together.

(c) How much will all this cost – and how will I pay for it?

The answer to both questions, as of this moment is – I don’t know.   My #1 hope is that I’m able to finish up my book about Shayna in the next 4-6 weeks, and with the holiday season approaching, that it will begin to sell well enough that I will be able to pay for all these things myself.  My backup hope is that one of the entrepreneurial ventures that I’ve engaged in, to lift myself out of my current economic situation, will pay off in the very near future.

If I must raise money for Shayna’s ongoing therapies, though, I’ll definitely need to do a more effective job of it than I did on the “Save Shayna” surgery fundraiser, which only produced about half of the $2,702.45 final bill (which isn’t bad – and I am grateful for every penny that was donated to this cause!).

Thanks again to everyone who supported Shayna and me in this quest.

Stay tuned to Shayna’s Facebook page for the latest updates.




Filed in: Shayna's medical condition, The Blog

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