A year after her breast cancer diagnosis, Cheryl Colehour had been expecting to hear that she was cancer-free. Instead, she's being wheeled in for surgery again.
“They said well, there’s something on your liver,” she said.
That something was a tumor. Her cancer had spread to her liver. Normally, that’s not a good thing.
"So in her case she was--I don't know if she would want to use the word lucky, but she was lucky that it was contained,” said James Park, MD, University of Washington Medical Center.
Contained means the tumor is still small and hasn't spread farther so doctors can operate.
In Cheryl's case they plan on removing part of the left lobe - about 20 percent of her liver - which should grow back within weeks. They'll also be using a new technique.
"The incision for removing this part of the liver would be something on the order of just below your breast bone to your belly button and the incision required to do this procedure is about an inch in size,” said Dr. Park.
That's because of a device called the Davinci Robot. Dr. Park is the first surgeon in the Pacific Northwest to use the robot for what’s called a liver resection. Not only is the incision smaller. Recovery is quicker.
Cheryl said she’s been feeling surprisingly well since the operation.
"It's been maybe a week-and-a-half and I'm up and I'm walking around and I don't think with the original surgery technique that would be true,” she said.
That also means she'll be able to start chemo right away instead of having to wait.
"He said it was the best case scenario the way things worked out,” she said.
Cheryl is only the third patient to undergo the procedure at the UW Medical Center. Nationwide, only a few doctors are currently doing this type of liver surgery.