Man with melon-size tumor has chest rebuilt with concrete
Written by Robert Smith
Thursday, 17 May 2012
A church worker who had a melon-sized tumour removed from his ribs has had his chest rebuilt using concrete.
Marek Barden was diagnosed with cancer in August 2011 after going to his doctors complaining of a lump.
Mr Barden a verger at the Bristolís Lord Mayorís Chapel, had no idea that a 3.3lbs chondrasarcoma tumour was wrapped around his ribs and pushing against his spleen.
Sarcomas affect about 1 per cent of all cancers and the chondrasarcoma Marek suffered was even rarer.
Within five weeks of the discovery, he underwent a six-hour operation to remove the tumour, the lining of his left lung, six ribs and part of his diaphragm.
To stop his chest from caving in, the verger was then fitted with a 25cm square panel that was 4mm thick made from a plastic mesh filled with an acrylic cement. Muscle from his shoulder was used to repair his diaphragm.
Three surgeons took part in the operation - a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a heart and chest surgeon and a general surgeon.
Mr Barden from Bristol - who celebrated his 40th birthday while in intensive care following the surgery said he has been left with a scar from his left shoulder down to his stomach.
He said: 'I lost a kilo and a half when they removed the tumour and probably got about that much back with the cement panel.
'I can feel it and the little lumps and bumps on it. I donít have sensation on that part of my body at all but I have got used to that now.
'I consider myself the bionic man because of my concrete panel. It took some getting used to.'
Mr Barden first noticed the lump in his side about a year before the operation but had not been particularly concerned about it.
He had an accident while cycling and thought the lump might be related to it.
He said: 'I thought maybe I had broken ribs or something and it was only after continued pestering from friends to go to the doctors that I had the MRI scan that led to me being diagnosed with a chondrasarcoma.
'There was no major pain, I have had severe osteoarthritis for most of my life so I am used to pain and tend to ignore it.
'I didnít notice it getting any bigger. It was sticking out a couple of inches from my side and I think it was growing more internally. By the time it came out it was about the size of a melon.
'The tumour had just grown around the whole lot of the rack of the ribs. The danger was that I could have lost my spleen or other internal organs.
'I came into hospital prepared to die, but Iím a fighter and Iím stubborn. When I received an appointment letter for my MRI scan and saw that I had suspected soft tissue sarcoma I looked it up online and it was all doom and gloom and said about six months to live.'
Mr Barden said it was the reassurance of clinical nurse specialist Chris Millman that gave him hope he would get through the ordeal.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Paul Wilson described the panel that was put into his chest as a plastic mesh with an acrylic cement, which was used to reconstruct the chest wall.
It was not Mr Barden's first operation - he had 17 over the course of 14 years as a child due to a condition where benign tumours, called exostoses would occur on his bones.
He said: 'The nurses and doctors in intensive care were fantastic. They really know how to look after you at Frenchay.
'By the time of my birthday the nurses in intensive care had put up decorations around my room.'
Mr Barden spent six days in intensive care before being discharged from hospital. He did not require any further treatment.
Marek, whose mother died of cancer 12 years ago, said: 'I was extremely lucky, having left it so long to see a doctor and I was lucky that it just pushed my other organs aside as it was growing because otherwise there could have been a lot more complications. And I am lucky that this happened here in Bristol.'
Dr Wilson said that Mr Bardenís tumour was one of the largest the team at Frenchay had ever seen.
He said: 'Marekís tumour was particularly difficult because we had to reconstruct the diaphragm as well as the chest wall.'
Mr Barden, who will be having a civil partnership later this year, said: 'I was actually quite shocked by the size of the plate.
'I donít feel heavier on one side or anything silly like that, but it is odd not being able to feel ribs on my left side.
'The surgeons were excellent and they told me that looking on the internet is always a bad idea when youíre looking for a prognosis.'
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