Friday, March 22, 2013

I Have an Oncology Team

On Monday I gathered up all my questions, put on my bravest face, a button up shirt (my range of motion forbids me to wear anything else) and went to Woodwinds to meet my oncology team. For three hours.  I never, ever would have thought I'd have an oncology team.  I still am having a difficult time fully grasping the fact that I have cancer.  Slowly it's becoming more real as I try to let my feelings catch up with facts.  But, I walked into Suite 130 to find out the facts.  I decided to deal with my feelings later, in the safety of my home.  I'm still sifting through the feelings, trying to identify exactly what they are. For now, all you get are facts.

First I met Bridget, the Nurse Navigator. I've talked with her several times on the phone and even talked with her while at work without knowing exactly who she was. But now her name has a face to go with it.  She is an invaluable resource.  Then I went back to have my vitals taken and some lab work done.  I was told this would be the way it would go for all my chemo treatments to follow.  Labs, meet with the doctor, then treatment.  The medical assistant was impressed with my low blood pressure given the situation I was in.  I chalk that up to all the prayers for peace.  When you ask for unexplainable peace, you get unexplainable peace.  Then she tried to draw some blood. I've learned over time that my veins are tiny, they are deep,and they roll. I'm a triple threat. The nurse also tried, then decided to use the port that was placed during surgery.  I'm quite appreciative for that little bump under my skin.  After several attempts and flushes and then finally having me stand up and lean forward, she was able to get the blood she needed. The nurse did an entry assessment and found what every other medical professional has been telling me:  I am in great health. Except for the cancer.

Then we met with the nurse practitioner, Mark. He asked me to tell my cancer story as I understood it. Turns out I've got a good handle on what's been happening this past month.  There is, however, a little confusion regarding the lymph nodes thanks to a pathology report that deviated from the norm.  But we're hoping that will be cleared up soon. He answered my questions. He went over the surgical and pathology reports. He answered some more questions.  He confirmed what I know, but am still trying to rationalize with myself; without chemotherapy and radiation, I most likely won't live to see Ella finish elementary school.   He gave me a run down on what some options for chemo would be based on all the information they had. Then he left for fifteen minutes or so to collaborate with Dr.Shanks. Then they both came back into room and laid it all out there.  I'm glad I'd left my feelings in the car, because the treatment schedule they were planning was even worse than I had been imagining.  I'd painted myself a picture of what the next 4-6 months would be and while I didn't like it, it wasn't horrible  With all the reading and googling I'd been doing, I had pieced together my own dream treatment plan.  When Dr. Shanks shared his thoughts on my treatment plan, I knew we were not on the same page. I was thinking of starting slow and gradual with the drugs that are mild and may even let me keep my hair.  He is thinking the opposite. As I sat there and listened to the cycles, the weeks and the months ahead filled with treatments, I tried so hard to not tune out, but I didn't want to listen anymore,  didn't want to be in that room.  We talked about fertility, when I would lose my hair, a possible clinical trial I could participate in, chemo side effects, possible start date, whether or not I'll be able to go to Arizona for Rick's brother's wedding, further testing and a chemo class that I have to take.  That's a lot of facts.

Today I go in for some more tests.  A CT scan to look for any areas the cancer may have traveled to via the lymph nodes that have cancer cells.  Then a MUGA scan to look at my heart to make sure that it is strong enough to handle the cancer drugs that can cause heart issues.

After that, my arm pillow and I are heading to Pam Hawley's for dessert! Hope to see some of you there!

P.S.  Thanks to all of you who prayed for me to sleep through the night last night.  Prayer works!

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