Archive for August 6th, 2009

Back to Plan A

I’m beginning to realize that this journey will often feel a lot like a roller-coaster ride. Tuesday’s experience had me pretty down. Then, after expressing my disappointment and anger in yesterday’s post, things slowly began to look up again.

Dr. Fekrazad immediately made time for me to come in to see him. Tasya was able to drop everything and meet me at his office (I know better than to go to these meetings without another set of ears). He brought in his P.A. Cynthia, whom I hadn’t met yet, and they both listened carefully to my concerns about all that took place at UNM Hospital. Since Dr. Fekrazad works there as well as here in Santa Fe, he nodded compassionately and agreed that it’s a much more impersonal environment than that of Santa Fe. He also let me know that the doctors who performed my ultrasound were not oncologists, and he was not surprised that they were recommending surgery first. He went on to clearly explain why he believed it was still a good idea for me to begin with a treatment of chemo and radiation, followed by surgery later. Cynthia echoed this as well.

He also went over the findings of the ultrasound in detail. I had heard the doctor at UNM say simply “it’s Stage 3.”  But the reality is a bit fuzzier. They were not able to conclusively determine if there was cancer in one of the lymph nodes. And only one lymph node was in question. Because I’ve recently had surgery, it’s likely there’s still inflammation that could show up looking like cancer in a lymph node when it may not be. So the actual finding was: T3  N1 / N0. Meaning it’s either T3 N1 (one lymph node involved and therefore Stage 3B) or T3 N0 (no lymph nodes involved and therefore Stage 2A). Since the only way to know for certain if the lymph node has cancer in it is to do surgery, they will treat me as if it’s Stage 3B – but it might not be. The one thing the ultrasound did make certain is that I will eventually need surgery no matter what (had it been Stage 1, I might have gotten away without it).

Dr. Fekrazad also wanted me to meet Dr. Shina, another oncologist at the Cancer Center. Dr. Shina spent some time with me confirming all that Dr. Fekrazad said and assuring me that the original plan of chemo and radiation first, followed by surgery later, was indeed the best choice for me. In addition to all that, he also gave me the name of the woman who is the head of patient services at UNM Hospital.  He suggested I write a letter to her detailing my experience there.

So, I left the Cancer Center feeling like I was back on more solid ground. I felt like they really pulled out all the stops to make sure I understood everything and didn’t go home as upset as I arrived. I even managed to get some work done later in the afternoon (something of a miracle for me these days).

Today, I’m prepping for tomorrow’s PET Scan. I’m only able to eat things that don’t contain any glucose (sugars). Do you know how hard it is to find something to eat that doesn’t contain sugar? Just look at any label. You’ll be shocked. So, it’s meat and cheese and eggs for the most part. And lots of water.

But tonight! I’m going to the Santa Fe Opera! My belated birthday present from Tim (who isn’t nearly as excited about seeing the opera as I am) is taking me to see The Elixir of Love. I can hardly wait!

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