Saturday, November 1, 2008

Second Opinion

I wrestled with it all night long, sleepless. I simply could not ignore it. For the first time, I realized what a monumental shock it was to Tim to hear the words "It was cancer" after the first surgery. He heard 'cancer' and 'chemo', and 'radiation'. And then he shut down completely. I'm glad however that our pastor was there. He said, "The surgeon said that he had decided not to remove the second lump, but assured us that he would watch it closely." Mary said, "I didn't understand why he would do that. Pre-op, he was pretty clear that it would be biopsied as well." I agonized about calling the cancer center. I did not want to alienate them, or ruffle the feathers of the very people I need so desperately right now in this fight. but I had some serious questions. I mustered up my nerve and I called the cancer center, and explained my concerns. I was shocked that they asked me to come in right away.
Turns out that they had some very serious misgivings as well. I have an appointment Tuesday. I will be going to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's cancer center, state of the art, one of the east coast's finest. The onc testing, which, as best I can figure it is sort of a DNA deconstruct of the cancer itself shows it to be a highly aggressive cancer. The chemo I will have is the most aggressive one they've got in their arsenal. First however, they will need to make a decision about this lump.
Being the emotional sap that I am, I cry, yet again. How wonderful to sit with the oncologist and talk, not like adversaries, but like people on the same team, staring directly into the face of a common enemy. And when she says, "Do you honestly think the lump is under the mediport?" I simply unbutton my shirt. "Look for yourself. The lump was described as in the exact same place, on the other side. She looks at both scars. She feels the lump of the mediport. And she leaves the room to make arrangements in Pittsburgh.


Anonymous said...

This is just toomuch, and needs to be dealt with and finished NOW so you can move on and take your steps as you gather strength. Sending you so much love, Debby, plus more.

RedWifey said...

Praying for comfort and strength, Debby. I thank God that he hasn't given you a spirit of timidity, but one of power, love and self discipline. Use your power to be bold against this cancer.

You can do it!

steviewren said...

Debby, I'm so glad you didn't decide to ignore this. Don't ever be afraid to challenge what someone else thinks is right for you if you don't feel good about it. Ditto to everything redwifey said too. You are such a strong person, the cancer diagnosis knocked you off your feet, but you've got what it takes to make sure you get all the answers you deserve.

Bob said...

Let the tears flow, Debby; mine are flowing with you. God gave them to us for a reason. The older I get the less I resist them.

Hal Johnson said...

It's really unfair that you've had to go through all this uncertainty because of one surgeon's baffling decision.

Yesterday, I was sitting in a coffee place, typing a blog post. Two young men and a woman walked in. They talked to the new owner. The owner was the third person in the last couple of years to buy the coffee place; the other two didn't make a go of it. I heard the two men and one woman ask if they could pray for the owner, his wife, and his son. The three of them were running the place together, and they joined in the prayer.

I put my head back down, and I heard "excuse me." One of the young guys stood before my table. He asked, "Are you a writer?" I chuckled. "I write for my own enjoyment. Y'know, blogs 'n stuff."
He looked surprised. "I felt that I had to look for a man wearing an shirt with metal buttons who was writing a book. You're not writing a book, then?"

I paused. "Well, I've been thinking about writing one for a while, and yesterday, for the first time, I started writing some notes for it." The young man looked relieved. He explained that they were from a church in town, and that they roamed around seeking people who needed prayer, and that he was supposed to look for a man with metal buttons on his shirt, a man who was a writer.

I haven't been referring to myself as "a writer," mainly because of my low output. But at that moment, a thought rang through: "I am a writer."

He asked me if someone in my life was dealing with cancer. I told him yes. The three of them put their hands on my shoulders, and we all prayed for Debby.

I gave the woman, a former police officer who lost a fifteen year-old daughter, your blog address. Hope you don't mind.

Portia said...

Sounds like you are on the right track. Glad to hear your cancer center was so responsive to your concerns. That is how it should be. Did I read it right that your new oncologist is a woman?

Mikey said...

Damn. Don't know what to say except we're praying for you. Lots.

Pencil Writer said...

Hurray for the Doctor who recognize patients know what they're talking about and are concerned enough to take things seriously and treat the patient! Kudos to her and kudos to you for standing firm!

That other guy--needs some investigating by his associates, maybe?

Like the corus from "Onward, Christian Soldiers": "onward, ever onward!" Prayers and hugs go with you.

Debby said...

Hal, certainly don't mind. You know, I got an e-mail from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. She's survived this, and she has been an enormous encouragement, and a wealth of knowledge. In her last e-mail, she sent a link for Bernie Siegel. When I read this, I went, "oh!!!" because I read his first book long ago. I'd forgotten. Well, I made up my mind to read his books again. Today we were at the new house, and a political canvaser came along, encouraging our participation in the upcoming election. My appointment Tuesday is arranged so we can vote and then hit the road (Pittsburgh is over three hours away). Anyways, I shared that, she asked why I had an appointment in Pittsburgh, I told her, turns out she's a breast cancer survivor (20 years). Moreover, she's trained with Bernie Siegel as a support group volunteer for his philosophies. Mike (ifs of og) wrote a column about coincidences and statistical probability. I just don't buy that. There's some amazing stuff happening lately. Yeah Hal. Hand out the blog, I did.

Thanks everybody. It's a hard time, but there's some amazing stuff happening. You guys are great.

Redwifey- welcome! Everyone, this is Redlefty's better half!

The chemo doctor/oncologist is a woman, Portia. The radiation doctor/oncologist is a man. To my experience, both of them are equally compassionate. Really above and beyond what you see in most doctors. I think it is a special calling to go into oncology. I believe that I have a good team in the cancer center. The surgeon was a crushing disappointment. I really liked him a lot. The fact that his story changed was shocking. I would have never expected it. It's a truly frightening thing to realize that your doctor is more concerned with saving his own ass than he is with saving yours. I will always be grateful for the immediate support from the oncologists. It was then I realized what a good good bunch of folks I have on my team. I am blessed in a really big way.

Probably should have done this comment as another blog post.

quid said...

You need the best in the business, Debby; those who will be straight forward in their assessments and the risks. You need to be able to express your concerns, you need a hospital that will fight with you.

I volunteer at the local world famous cancer center. There is a reason for that. I am confident you will find the right treatment for you; one that will sustain your hope and strength.


jeanie said...

Deb - I am so glad that you are having your concerns dealt with this week.

Lots of hugs.

Stuart Peel said...

Thank God you've finally got a decent team of people on your side. Some of the stuff you've spoken about in the last few days has shocked me, I'm just glad you're finally getting to deal with the right people.

I think about you all the time, hang in there and keep your chin up.


Mary, sis of Museswings said...

Debby, the surgeon gave you a copy of the medport insertion surgery, in which the second lump was not mentioned. However, the Rad. Onc. Dr. read from the surgeon's own notes "The unfortunate woman..." (which, by the way, makes my skin crawl!) How does he explain that?!

Now hear this: You are NOT an emotional sap. You are staring the Beast in the eyes and you can cry ANYTIME you want to. And don't make excuses to ANYone for it.

Go to Pittsburgh, armed with a new strength and knowledge, not to mention zillions of prayers lifting your name to our compassionate and loving Father. Fight like hell. You can win!

Mary, sister-survivor

Scotty said...

I'm so glad to hear that you've got a great oncology team, Debby - maybe, after a while, they'll make that other bad attitude disappear.

Fingers crossed again.

Lavinia said...

Finally, some encouraging developments. Big sighs of relief here! I want you to know that I, along with many others, think about you every day. You are fighting this battle, ultimately, alone---you and your body and your spirit, but Debby for what its worth, your family, your friends, your church, your blogging friends, and medical professionals---REAL medical professionals, form a team that is right behind you!!

Anonymous said...

It's true, you're not an emotional sap. An emotional sap is someone who cries over TV commercials for tissues that feature fluffy bunnies and ducklings.
Best wishes,

jeanie said...

Oh no!! I have just found out in Deb's blog section that I am the definition of emotional sap!!!

I think I need a second opinion after that.

More gentle hugs. And the good thing is that it is all said here with a smile, and not with my word verification - "gradj" - which would be something Yugoslav, I think.

Debby said...

Jeanie - but you are an emotional sap. So is your sister.

David - *whew* I do not cry over fluffy bunnies and ducklings, although I have wept over Hallmark card commercials and the old Lifesavers commercials. They don't count though, right?

Lsvinia - received your encouraging note today. Thank you.

Everyone else - thank you! One can never have too many cheerleaders (give me an A...)

PaintedPromise said...

jeanie i am right there with you, i cannot get through reader's digest without a box of tissue...

big hugs Deb and tomorrow a box of Arizona will be on its way to you... along with a special surprise ;)