The doctors and other health professionals who care for the terminally ill have a playbook with cliches’.
“I don’t have a crystal ball.”
“We’re all going to die.”
“Medicine is not an exact science.”
"We don't know."
So we met our oncologist/radiologist on Monday.
Mike: So, Dr., how do you see me?
Dr.: You are a relatively young man with advanced gall bladder cancer and no symptoms at the present time. Your cancer was not found early. That’s usual for gall bladder cancer. We do not have much data for your kind of cancer. You are a statistical study of one.
Mike: What do you propose?
Dr. We suggest that you begin a therapy regime.
(6 weeks, daily radiation, targeting the gall bladder bed; insertion of port (outpatient surgery) and 24/7 chemo)
Goal: so that the cancer does not grow back there. For how long? Not a cure. But we don’t know.
Side effects: Rad/Onc says that the chemo will be the harder; Oncologist said that radiation would be the harder; they both agree that "You’re such a young man in good health. You’ll do just fine.”
Me: As there are no symptoms at this time, what if we wait?
Dr: We don’t know. Maybe it will make no difference. Maybe it will make a difference.
What they DO know is that we can expect Mike to feel weak and ill, nothing unmanageable, several days a week. And that will mean no more flying. And the port will mean no more swimming.
The Dr. left the room and I told the hub that I would support whatever decision he made. But he pressed me and I confessed that I hated to see him give up what he’s doing right now, especially since they don’t know if waiting will make a difference.
So this week has been ‘sleeping on it’ and praying about it. Yesterday, Mike sent this to his oncologist
If I interpret (radiologist/oncologist) correctly, he advised that it will not make much difference whether I do chemo or rad commencing Sept 15, 2009.
Is it necessary to do both at the same time: Can I do one at a time, beginning with radiation? Will that make a difference?
Lynne and I do lots of fun things in the summer and we have some trips planned. Doing the treatment will kill those plans which I suppose could be changed.
If I do the chemo, I understand that I understand I must a port…when does that need to be inserted in relation to the start of chemo, should I elect to do that?
I am probably going to do both of them, particularly if it can be put off relatively safely until September.
Thanks you for the help. Please advise further.
She called this AM
"Your diagnosis is ‘microscropic metastatic gall bladder cancer.’ The therapy will be done together. If you wait for 6 months after diagnosis, there will be no benefit to therapy."
The therapy offers a chance of more time. But how much. And will it be good time?
We don’t know.
They traffic in optimism and hope at the oncology center.
So we are faced with a decision. Mike is a champ at a win/lose column comparision. This is perhaps the last time we will work this system.
We are going to be praying about this during the weekend and will ask you to join us. God’s grace will help us NOT REGRET the direction. You will be covering us, we know. Thank you, our friends.