The Other Doctor

During the Spring, my let-me-get-a-second-opinion-doctor at the university agreed with my treatment plan for this summer - to do those 6 5 rounds of FOLFIRI and meet again after my concluding scans.

Those scans happened, I requested they be sent on to her, and she got them. I know she got them because she called me personally to ask if it was alright for her radiologist to reread them.

Considering I found the original report mildly ambiguous, with no satisfaction in the explanation coming from my current doctor, I gladly welcomed a second, and possibly more detailed understanding of what was really going on in my lungs. I also knew it would be coming from a doctor that wouldn't skip along the surface.

I knew not to expect bad news. I just wanted more precise news.

I looked forward to revisiting those talks that included less chemo, and more invasive options like RFA (radiofrequency ablation), and the far off chance of surgery. I also looked forward to sitting in front of a doctor who was listening to me, not just hearing me. After a year of being heard without really being heard, this was needed. I didn't realize how much it was needed until I hung up from that above mentioned call.

She called me, and that meant a lot.

As expected, there was nothing shocking about the new read on my last scans. But as hoped, the detail I desired was there. In summary, nothing magically shrunk. This I knew, but I had to wonder how disappointed I should be about it. Once again I had an oncologist sitting in front of me acting like my non-shrinking tumors were wonderful, when in my head I wasn't equating the word "wonderful" with growth. At least she didn't tell me I had "good stable disease." I think I might want to slap the next doctor that uses that line on me.

Clearly I still struggle with the idea of my wine glass being half-full in the eyes of oncology.

My ungrateful little attitude deserved nothing less than the doctor taking off her latex gloves and slapping me across the face a few times. Since February, the 2 largest (despite being very, very small) tumors in my lungs grew 2mm.

Slap, slap, slap go the latex gloves.

She even took out a ruler to remind me of how small 2mm is, and in reality there's probably even room for error given how small of a measurement and how accurate the scan can really be. Most oncologist wouldn't even bat an eyelash at 2mm in 7 months, so clearly I needed to simmer down and be happy.

Simmer down, girl, simmer down. I have chronic cancer, which means with the right management of the disease, I have many years ahead of me.

I didn't walk out with warm fuzzies and rays of hope for my unicorn-encrusted future, but I am once again reminded that I'm stuck in the slow lane of traffic, which is a great place to be if one must be stuck. My cancer is going nowhere fast, and that makes me one lucky girl.

As it stands now, I'll continue on with treatment as usual, and meet with a new oncologist (that she is referring me to on my side of town) within the university system. I know it's time for a change.

As far as non-chemo options go, they are still on the table - just not her table. She will box me up and ship me off to the Mayo Clinic for their opinion on things like RFA, SRBT and surgery. Because of the "innumerable nodules" that are so ambiguous and assumed by everyone else to be cancer, I might have to put forth a good fight and a better argument - but I've got those skills finely turned thanks to Merrick.


Karen said...

Sarah, do our docs envision a time when you will have a respite from treatment?

Karen said...

That should read "your" docs", not "our".

Sarah DeBord said...

I know I can take breaks here and there, but ultimately it's chemo-for-life in my case.

Karen said...

Well here's hoping for many here and there's in your future.

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