Early September, the Phillips family received some news that we never expected. One phone call was all it took to tell us that a mouth sore developed into a tumor on Connie's jaw bone. After tests and scans, we were told surgery was needed with a possibility of chemotherapy and radiation. Mandibulectomy was the type of surgery needed which is the removal of the jaw bone and replaced with another bone of the body. The doctors were reassuring that everything would go well and they had performed almost 800 of these procedures. Surgery would take about 12 hours and she would need to be in the hospital for about 10 days, 2-3 of which in the ICU due to sedation for the blood vessels to have a chance to reconnect and thrive.
October 28th, the day of the surgery everything went extremely well and the tumor was removed with "good margins". They removed the right fibula and tissue from there for the reconstruction which also was a success. The first few days everything went well and the tissue and vessels were connecting properly. Things were healing as planned but taking longer than expected when November 7th, Connie had developed a slight fever and we were unsure where it was coming from. An infection had developed which caused the tissue to start dying so a procedure was needed to go in and clean everything out. Due to the infection, Connie spent 3 ½ weeks in ICU and started to get out of the bed towards the end of that stay. A total of 4 ½ weeks at the hospital and we finally got the news Thanksgiving Day that she would be coming home!!! We were all so excited and nervous at the same time because there would be a physical therapist and at home nurses to assistance until everything was clear. IV drips for antibiotics, changing of gauze, feeding tubes, and assistance getting up was a daily routine for her.
By Christmas Day, Connie was able to walk around the house without any assistance and allowed to drink clear liquids. She began radiation and chemotherapy on December 23rd and will have 33 radiation treatments and 7 chemotherapy treatments. Once she's completed these treatments, the doctors will re-evaluate everything and determine if further action needs to be taken. Currently, Connie is able to eat soft foods but has become difficult with certain foods due to radiation causing tenderness. Nausea and some pain have started to set in and the doctors are making sure she is getting everything she needs.
Connie has been so strong throughout this process even though it hasn't always been easy. Please continue to pray for her and our family during this time. #conniestrong
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Emilee Garner Phillips 
Flowery Branch, GA
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