Today I had my first appointment at the Southwest Regional Cancer Center - Georgetown branch. I met with Dr. George there along with David and my Mom. We had all my records faxed to him from Round Rock and from the Pulmonologist so he was able to read all that and take over my care. Looks like I have Large B Cell Lymphoma. But I have to have several more tests and scans to determine what stage of cancer I am in. That information will determine exactly what kind and duration of treatment I will undergo. Short course of chemo followed by radiation or long course of chemo with or without radiation. Most likely the latter - 6 to 10 courses of chemo given every three weeks. Radiation down the road if necessary. Dr. George assured me that lymphoma is not only treatable it is curable. We will talk about my specific prognosis when we have established in what stage I am.
Dr. George was great. He was informed, seemed very with it and organized. He was determined to get my tests and scans done right now, not the end of next week and he made that happen. And above all he is a human being. Warm and caring. That is such an improvement from Dr. C, the Pulmonologist.
Dr. C did my biopsy on Monday and I swear he didn't even say hello to me before he squirted the most foul concoction up my nose and down my throat. Not even a smile. "This is really gonna burn." He said as a form of greeting. And it did. This was the numbing medication prior to the bronchoscopy. It was in an aerosol can and had that long little tube on it like a can of WD 40. And it tasted like WD 40 - OK, more like paint thinner. Er, I mean it tasted and burned like I imagine paint thinner would. I haven't actually tasted paint thinner so I can't say for sure. But if it is anything like this anesthetic, I certainly would not recommend it.
Back on topic though, I really like Dr. George and he sure got everything moving very quickly. He doesn't want to delay my treatment very much at all. Says we don't have to start chemo tomorrow before we get some test results, but we are starting early next week.
I have a busy, busy week scheduled. Tomorrow I get a PET/CT scan of my whole body to pinpoint any lymph nodes that are affected - could be more than just my lungs. On Monday I am getting a port put in my upper chest, above my breastbone. A port is basically permanent IV access - or permanent til we are done with chemo and we take it out. This is something my mom recommended and the doc agreed. This way I don't have to get an IV every time I get chemo and they can also get blood draws from it. It goes into a bigger vein than what is in my skinny arms. Otherwise I would risk damaging my arm veins and enduring countless sticks and do overs from nurses missing. Pretty practical I thought, so I am getting one. Tuesday we start the first round of chemo. I am supposed to plan on being there 4 - 6 hours as they give you the first dose really, reeeaaaallly slowly to see how you react to it. Then Wednesday I am having a bone marrow biopsy taken from my hip bone. This will make sure the cancer isn't so systemic that it is in my marrow. I hope not.
So things are moving rapidly. And I feel better having something to do and plan. I just want to get started even though I know we are looking at a long road and I really, really don't want to lose my hair. Sigh. The doc pretty much destroyed my hopes that I would not have to be a baldy. But alas, the hair is doomed. That is really gonna hurt. I am sure that I will get over it pretty quickly cause I don't enjoy moping (too much). But man. Sure wish cancer didn't have that one-two punch.
I did request one perk today and got it. A handicapped sticker for my car. If I have to go through all this and do it without the comforts of my hair, I am damned well gonna have preferential parking.
I am going to try to do some if not all of the Steel Magnolias shows this weekend. I think I can do it and I would like to do it. I may find my energy is simply not enough to do all three of them and after chemo next week I may be too sick to any more of. But I am going to try. Wish me luck!