Yesterday’s appointment with the oncologist was very informative. The doctor spent so much time discussing with us my diagnosis and the treatment route he is recommending. I always wonder if I’m getting preferential treatment for being a “doctor’s wife” – I hope every patient who walks into an appointment with my oncologist receives the same compassionate, detail filled orientation to life as a cancer patient. In reality, my prognosis is so wonderfully optimistic that I was likely a happy reprieve in the day of a very caring physician who has to deliver a lot of bad news every day to most of the people he treats.
It seems that the next step in the path to crossing this little episode off my list is to visit a Radiation Oncologist – different from the Oncologist we saw yesterday, who will oversee the medication treatment phase that begins after 7 weeks of radiation.
So there will be yet another doctor’s appointment prior to treatment beginning, and that process will likely begin in early January. Right now, I’m waiting to find out which Radiation Oncologist is covered by the HMO insurance we switched to this year.
Honestly, dealing with the insurance aspects of this have been the most confusing and frustrating part of the process. Every time I feel myself getting anxious or upset about all of the hoops we jump through, I remember and say a prayer for those who are really sick and have no coverage at all.
When we were at the Cancer Center yesterday, I had such a surreal sensation of “I shouldn’t be here, taking up space for those who are so sick!” All around us were patients who looked pretty bad – ill, uncomfortable, and in varying stages of treatment. We were greated by “Bob”, a volunteer ombudsman and 8 year cancer survivor who oriented us to the center. When he refused to let me walk up the stairs to the second floor and insisted on the elevator, I wanted to shake him and tell him, “I’m not really sick, Bob!” I felt like an imposter – taking up services (inlcuding elevator time!) for people who are far worse off. Bob, in a jaunty Santa hat and sporting a big cane, wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I obliged him.
My oncologist, Dr. H., is such a nice man. I tried to convince him that we could skip seeing the next specialist, but sadly that’s not the way things are done. So there will be another appointment in a different Cancer Center likely within the next week or two. The list maker in me wants to be able to put a date on my calendar that says “Radiation treatment complete” but, alas, that won’t be happening just yet.
The good news is that, as we’ve read, DCIS is a very treatable form of breast cancer and the future is incredibly bright. I’m learning a lot as we go through this, mostly about myself spiritually and emotionally. I’m also finding this to be a great way to focus on true prayers for those who face tremendous health, emotional and well-being challenges these days. I hope you will join me in those prayers!
Image note – I found this image of an old radiation therapy treatment online. It’s amazing how far technology has come and how wonderful it is that I can feel so confident about my treatment. The precious baby in this photo reminds me to pray for all of the children who face difficult diagnoses and for their parents who suffer along with them.