Thursday, March 5, 2009

Damn . . . Just Damn

Hi folks – sorry to start a new post off with that sort of tone, but I’m not sure there’s really any nicer way of putting it. My wife (and co-editor of this blog) Holly was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A routine mammogram revealed the abnormality a few weeks back but it wasn’t until last week that we got the results of the biopsy, which showed the lump was cancerous.

Yesterday Holly had a lumpectomy at Gwinnett Medical Center, under the care of Dr. Wallace Martin. The surgery went as well as could be expected. The surgeon removed only 3 sentinel lymph nodes (the fewer the better), all of which (at the time) were negative for cancer. The tumor itself was about 2 centimeters in size and was removed along with the surrounding tissue (a.k.a., the margin). No drains were installed, which should make the healing easier or at least less complicated.

The lymph nodes, margins, and the tumor itself were then put though more exhaustive tests in the lab. We got a call back from the doctor’s office this afternoon with the pathology of these tissue samples. The good news is that the margins were negative, though we learned today that the surgeon had to cut into the chest muscle in order to ensure negative margins. The bad news, however, is that the lymph nodes were positive for microscopic cancer cells. As a result, she will need to go back in for a lymph node dissection, where they’ll surgically remove more lymph nodes and then put drains in. This is scheduled for next Tuesday (3/10).

Prior to that, however, we have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Martin on Monday (3/9). It is then that we should learn more about the type of cancer cells we’re dealing with and learn of a proposed treatment plan. All indications are that she will likely undergo radiation therapy, though chemotherapy has not been ruled out.

All I can say is it feels different when the shoe is on the other foot. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m fighting (and I believe winning) my battle with Sarcoma. That was OK with me. But now Holly has breast cancer?!? That really hurts. I guess I never really understood how she felt when she learned of my diagnosis until just yesterday in surgery when her diagnosis began to sink in.

I’m sure many may wonder why this is all happening to us. Some may even speculate various environmental theories as to the cause of a husband and wife within the same household both going through cancer at the same time. Yes this is rare and it’s only natural to think along these lines. However, to be quite frank, I really don’t care why this happening or what the cause might be since nobody can definitely answer such questions. I’ve never seen anything good come out of pondering such topics (especially as a cancer patient), which was one of the themes of my post on 2/23/2009. Instead, I’d much rather focus my energies on beating this thing and being a supportive, compassionate husband.

My next challenge will be to figure out a way to break this news to my two boys (neither know anything beyond the surgery). If I can just manage to hold them off for a few more weeks (until after my surgery), perhaps then it will be easier for them to bear such news (knowing that I’m nearing the end of my battle). But I think I should just stop overanalyzing the situation and take my own “one day at a time” advice here. I just pray that my kids will have the strength to handle such news . . . whenever it comes.

I’m planning for this to be my last post regarding Holly. Hopefully she will start a blog of her own, which I will add to the list of blogs that I follow.


Farmhousefive Art 4 Kids said...

Oh Dave & Holly, John & I are soooooo sorry. I am glad to be able to keep in touch and know what is going on thru your blog. We will be praying for you both and for your boys. I don't understand it, nor know what God is doing, but we can only hope that He will be glorified by your walk with Him and through your testimonies (that is with an "s" .. oh my). I know that you have inspired me the last few months reading about your suffering but reading your strength in-between the lines. Tell Holly I love her and will lift her up daily. God bless you, Novak family. --love, Therese & John

Misty said...

I don't even have words!!! I am so, so sorry to hear all this. I am w/you on the trying to figure out the 'whys' and 'what fors' and 'hows'...most important is SURVIVING!! Which, I believe in my heart, that you and sweet Holly will!! I am praying for you all.

Derek said...


This is Derek, Misty's husband. You and Holly are being lifted up in prayer. We are praying that both you and Holly's bodies will line up with the word of God which states... "by His stripes, we are healed." We are fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm sure that you know that I am walking this out also and taking the naturopathic/alternative route in my treatment, but I strongly believe that the "terrain" is the immediate problem and the tumor is just a symptom (dash light warning) of a bigger problem (pH balance, too acidic, toxic liver,etc.) Cancer cells can only exist in a an anaerobic/acidic environment. There are 300+ alternative cancer treatments to only 3 from traditional/orthodox medicine. I found out quickly, concerning cancer, we must step 'outside the box.' I recently sent your wife an email with an attached e-book called "Cancer-Free:" It is a thoroughly researched book on cancer by Bill Henderson. I encourage you to look into the alternative options. Many can be used parallel with traditional methods. Please read this e-book. You are right to deal with the 'fear', it is the biggest enemy. Your immune system is very, very important right now to both of you. Be encouraged. Read healing scriptures out loud daily, praise/worship music daily (this helped Misty and I with the fear). Remember the story of David and Goliath. I encourage you to read that e-book. The author lost a loved one to cancer and has researched it for the last 10 yrs. It was immensely helpful and well-researched. I will pray peace and wisdom to your family and that God will manifest His healing to you both. Don't read statistics. They are based on past and present human knowledge. They may well be the fact, BUT...they ARE NOT the TRUTH! Don't let any Dr. prophesy your end. Only God knows our expiration date. He doesn't take us out like this. It is NOT His will.I know for myself it's either 0% or 100% for me. I will pray that God will guide your steps and lead you by His Spirit. He has plans for us. His word promises 70 to 120 years of life. Our bodies made in His image and His word/promises are the only way cancer can be pushed out of the body/corrected. We have to give our spirit/mind/body what they need: speaking His word/positive thinking/healthy-organic-God-given-live foods. I am standing firmly with you and Holly.


Dave Novak said...

Hi Derek --

I agree with the part about not reading statistics (especially as a Sarcoma patient). But in fairness to my doctor (and Holly's), we were never given any negative statistics. In fact, my doctor (Gina D'Amato) stated she preferred to view cases as "either treatable or not treatable" and that my case was clearly treatable. So far my prognosis using traditional medicine is good.

Holly (thankfully) has a edge on me here since so much more study and research has gone into breast cancer (whereas so little is known about sarcomas).

Thanks for your post, we'll keep it in mind, but as for me I'm more comfortable with going the traditional route and trusting my doctors. We have some of the finest cancer and sarcoma docs in the country here in Atlanta.


Chuck said...

Oh man, I am so sorry to hear that. Give Holly our love and our sincere hopes for a speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
I just stumbled onto your blog after I was searching for some more information about liposarcomas. Since December, I have had these bumps on my shin and they have increased in number. Yesterday, my mother finally found out that it was a lipoma (which the doctors couldn't even identify) and now it's just trying to see whether they are benign or not. However, as much as I enjoyed reading your posts and being able to discover some new information on these little masses of mine, I finished with reading your most recent post and felt terrible! I am so sorry to hear the horrible news. I wish you and your family the best during these times. God bless.

CewTwo said...

Sometimes, the weather must get worse before it can get better.

I feel for you, your wife, and your boys! You are on my prayer list.

Take care!

Dave Novak said...

Rachel --

Thanks for your kind comments. If it's any consolation, Lipomas are very common and always benign (or so I've been told by my doctor). They should not cause you any trouble (just leave them alone). Wikipedia has some general information about them at

But this I can say for sure -- Liposarcoma is a rare form of Sarcoma, with only about 1000 cases reported annually in the USA. I think you're going to be just fine. :)

Bridget said...

My hope is that you will soon be walking the beach together, looking back at this and thinking of it as a time in your lives when you were 'making memories'. You are in my thoughts and prayers ... Bridget