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Jul 30

There is no short-cut

Yesterday was Taxol #4. I have to admit I was not in a good mood heading over there because the girls came home from camp the day before and this was their first morning home after 28 days. I wanted to hang around, do nothing and just soak up their stories and smiles. But instead, it turned into a mad-dash for the hospital when I realized I had misread the schedule and I had an oncologist appointment before treatment.

It’s full-on vacation season at the hospital, there are very very few nurses, so everything takes way longer than usual. So much so that by the time the port was in and the blood drawn, I was very late for the onco. Instead, I got to see a resident. A very sharply dressed, oh-so-very-young resident. Eager to please.

Here is something I have learned in dealing with medical people who have never met you before: If you speak like you already know the answer, you can get them to give you the answer even when the regular person might not. Case in point: me and radiation.

I have been doing research and had decided that since I opted for the full radical double mastectomy (with a side of fries) and the intensive compressed schedule A/C/T chemo, I really didn’t not see the point of radiation. What was left to radiate? The margins were clear.

So when Young Resident was done asking the regular weekly questions and assured me that this new INSANE insomnia is 100% chemo related (and prescribed magic pills), I decided to broach radiation with him, given that regular oncologist never wants to talk about it (well get to it when the time comes, he says.)

I told Young Resident I was opting out of radiation, should I tell this oncologist about it, or the surgical oncologist (that was, in fact, a legitimate question). He read through my file a little, went over basic facts like tumor sizes, the margins (clear), hormone positive, HER2 negative, etc…. But I can’t read the file from where I’m sitting and I can see he’s hung-up on one particular notation. Then, even though it was now very late and the point of him seeing me was to avoid seeing the onco, he stepped out and went to discuss my decision with the onco.

It took a LOOOOONG time. And there is no cell reception in that room at all, and i’m sitting there in the hospital gown with the port access dangling from my chest with nothing to attach it to (I usually tuck it in my dress or a tank top strap). 

After what felt like an hour but was in fact about 17 minutes, he came back. With the Oncologist. Now, if you don’t know this, I happen to know the oncologist socially. He is a very good friend of a friend of ours, so while I would never ever pick up the phone to call him, we have sat together on the wedding/bris circuit. Prior to yesterday, I have never gotten him to laugh at my jokes. He’s a serious guy.

‘What is this about not doing radiation?’ he asked. I told him about my reading, but mostly about how fucking fed up I am. About how long this is taking, about how it consumes everything. No travelling, no working, no exercising, being careful all the time, etc. His answer?

‘Well, took you long enough! I was wondering at which point you would finally stop staying it was fine and finally get pissed off.’

HELLO?????? clearly he doens’t read my blog and is not my friend on Facebook!!!! I guess I am always very nice and polite and cheery when I go see him. We talked for a bit more, but then he laid it out for me:

‘There is no short-cut. Your tumors were significantly larger than at biopsy, which means an agressive rapid-growth. Combined with your family history but mostly because of the 8 out of 12 positive lymph nodes, you have to have radiation around the lymph nodes. Otherwise, the chance of a local recurrence in the first five years is very high. 80%’.

End of conversation. I am getting radiation. There is no short-cut.

This means 5 to 6 weeks of DAILY (FML!) rads (it’s fast and there are never any delays, but still, DAILY!!!) which can only start a few weeks after the chemo. So think late October through November. Then another short break, and then, and ONLY THEN can i go back to Dr. D to finish what we started, remove the expanders and have surgery to finish this off. Which likely will not be til next January, though more realistically February or March because of wait-lists….

He did crack a joke though. When discussing the radiation, he told me I would have rad-markers and likely get rad-burns ‘Which some people choose to cover up with a tattoo, so lucky girl!’

There is no short-cut. When then say a year of your life, they mean it.

(and no, I took no #chemostyle picture yesterday)