In doing research, you discover that the surgery isn't a piece of cake. But that's okay, it is workable. There are many of us who have made it through and who are making it work for us. The key is not that it will be difficult, but that you can get through it. And you have options, if you are able to wade through them. If you are not, you can go with a surgeon (orthopedic oncologist) you trust and get the ball rolling.
Two surgeons that I would trust personally do operate on my arm if I need surgery again:Dr. Healey
in New York, because of his overall record, not necessarily his experience with shoulder tumorsDr. Conrad
in Washington state, because of his record with shoulder tumors. I personally know someone who had a really complex second resection done by Dr. Conrad. No other doctor would agree to do it, and Dr. Conrad succeeded.
If you do want to read more about the surgery, these are some of the best resources I found. They do contain surgical pictures and images, just so you know! I usually skip over those (surprisingly enough, even after all this, i am incredibly squeamish!). I remember reading one of these articles before my surgery and not being able to understand the words, so I told myself it was too technical for me, and the doctor knew what to do. I was completely overwhelmed, and the words kept blending together. If I could go back, I would have taken breaks, read it several times and figured it out. It is very empowering to realize that you understand what is happening and that you may even have a voice in your care.http://tinyurl.com/apljbhttp://abc-survivors.net/images/allograft2.pdfhttp://tinyurl.com/b9w9p
Here is a paper about a new technique that is showing promise:http://tinyurl.com/m5nb7
I have read that best functional results are achieved when a shoulder specialist assists an orthopedic oncologist with the surgery. I WISH this had been done for me!!! Ask your doctor about this. You may also want to ask your doctor how many humerus resections he has done, and why he wants to use a certain technique in your case. Armed with the knowledge of the articles above, you can ask about the other techniques and the pros and cons of each.
Here is a great place to learn about the different muscles and functions of your shoulder. Learn now if you need something to keep you occupied and make you more knowledgable when talking to the surgeons - and therapists later:http://www.shouldersolutions.com/anatomy.php
After surgery it helps to have an extra sling for showering, a cheap one from a drug store. You can wrap a towel in garbage bags and tape if you need support underneath the sling.
Functional results vary because of tumor location, size, and the type of surgery and reconstruction that is done. Some of us had extensive physical therapy, and some figured things out as we went. Here are our stories:JohnChiaraMaryRachelTom