Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My first MD Anderson appointment

I was so happy that my parents drove down from Oklahoma to visit for the weekend.  I missed them and just even wanted to be able to hug them before I start this treatment journey.  They drove down on Friday and headed back on Sunday. As they headed  to Oklahoma, we headed to Houston for our MD Anderson appointment on Monday.

MD Anderson is HUGE!  This makes me hate cancer even more.  I can't believe that mini-City (MD Anderson) was just full of cancer patients.  I was able to spend a lot of time with the nurse practitioner and physician with whom I was scheduled.  The physician had reviewed my entire file and recommended a treatment plan that was almost identical to what the oncologist near our house said she would recommend.   When I told her what the local oncologist recommended, she said she was fine with that as well and understood why she wanted to recommend that.  When I asked her why she recommended the treatment in reversal, she explained that it was just the "MD Anderson Way" and that she didn't mind me getting the treatment in either order.  I asked her if there were any other benefits to me going to MD Anderson for my treatment.  She stated that if it were her, she would probably want to stay near home and keep life as normal as possible since we have small children.  She said she does not receive any special incentives for us going there (MD Anderson) for treatment and there would really be no difference in the chemotherapy.  She then asked the name of the local oncologist.  When we stated her name, she immediately said, "Oh!   You all are good....just go to her. And, I wouldn't say that about any oncologist, but she is really good."

There is, however, one potential clinical trial in which I may be eligible to participate at MD Anderson. It is based on my cancer pathology having a positive Her2 status and is a vaccine administered once every three months.  The vaccine helps prevent the continuous spread of the cancer.   I found out on Monday morning by phone my Her2 status is negative; however, the physician at MD Anderson said she needs to see the full pathology report to determine my eligibility.  There are different ways of determining Her2 status, and it is possible I could be even a slight percentage positive.  If I am the slightest percentage positive, I would be eligible to participate in the clinical trial.  She said if that is the case, then traveling to MD Anderson once every three months for that would be totally worth it.  Her2 positive cancers are extremely aggressive.  She said I could receive chemotherapy treatment locally near our home and still participate in the trial.

One thing the doctor recommended is that I have an ultrasound and potential biopsy of some of the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck prior to beginning chemotherapy.  She said it is important to know the cancer involvement of those for the radiation oncologist down the road.  I asked her, "If we decided to go with MD Anderson for treatment, would I be able to get that Ultrasound and potential biopsy that day (or even the following day).  Also, when will I be able to begin treatment."  She said that I would have to call the MD Anderson appointment scheduling team to schedule the ultrasound and the appointment would likely be next week.  I really liked the oncologist I met with and I was so thankful for her honesty and expertise.

After the appointment at MD Anderson on Monday afternoon, we felt at complete peace with our decision.  We would stay home for the chemotherapy treatments and try to keep life as normal as possible for our kiddos.  I called the oncologist back home and was able to get an Ultrasound for this afternoon, right after we got back home from Houston.  Then, I get the port surgically implanted tomorrow and start chemotherapy on Thursday.  So, here we go!!!  Again, we were so thankful for the quickly scheduled MD Anderson appointment.  It helped us feel like we made the most informed decision and it is enabling us to start treating immediately.   Thank you everyone for the many prayers.  My next post is going to be about all of the answered prayers we have already witnessed!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

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