After meeting with the fancy-shoed oncologist, I believed that things would start moving forward rapidly. I was, unfortunately, mistaken. After a week and a half of radio silence from his office after him giving me an exact list and timeline of events to happen within two weeks, I finally called to remind him I existed.
His receptionist said she would let him know.
So I called again the next day. She said he hadn’t actually sent my referrals over to the appropriate places yet, but that she would remind him. I was not terribly impressed by this news, so I had Adam call my ever-diligent and amazing family doctor, because I was tired and didn’t really know what I wanted to say.
She was also not terribly impressed, and told Adam that I should call her with my friend Steve‘s Oncologist’s name and number in Burnaby. I did just that, and things started moving again from that moment.
Within a day, I had an appointment in Burnaby with the new Oncologist scheduled — for 7:30am on a Monday morning. That was today.
Adam and I drove out to Burnaby to see her, and swore to each other that we would never, ever decide to take Highway 1 at 7am on a weekday again. Gridlock at 7am? And people deal with that on a daily basis? Horrifying.
We arrived a few minutes after 7:30, found our way to the Cancer Centre where I was told she would be, and looked around. It was dark and deserted, and the sign on the door said it wasn’t open until 9:30am. So we walked back to the admissions and information desk of the hospital, where they had no idea what we were talking about.
I finally received a phone call from the new Oncologist, saying she had arrived and was wondering where we were. She was waiting for us in the dark, abandoned cancer centre at that point, so we headed back there.
Meeting the new Oncologist
Within about two minutes I felt pretty comfortable with this new doctor. She was efficient and willing to tell me anything I asked. She gave us more information than any doctor had previously. She phoned various departments and doctors within her network and had me scheduled for a bone marrow biopsy later that morning, a PET scan within two weeks, and the excisional biopsy that the other doctor had told me I would have had done by now. And she said that everything should come together in two weeks time, at which point my chemo would start.
Basically, she got more done in an hour and a half than the other doctor did in two and a half weeks.
She also gave us a lot more information up front about things like my staging. It was good to know, for instance, that I have two tumors; the one on my lymph node next to my neck, and one in my chest behind the trachea. And, surprise! The second one that no one has mentioned to us beyond in passing is, in fact, the bigger of the two.
This is the kind of information I want to hear. I want to know the truth, without dressing it up in pretty clothing and fancy shoes.
Watch out for those UBMB’s…
Did I mention that she scheduled me for a bone marrow biopsy that same day? Keep an eye out for those Unexpected Bone Marrow Biopsies, folks — you never know when one is going to sneak up on you.
Let me tell you a little about bone marrow biopsy. First of all, they freeze you, so it doesn’t exactly hurt. Second, you can’t really see what they’re doing because they take the bone marrow out of your hipbone, just above your behind, on your back. Third, it feels, rather a lot, like they’re twisting a rudimentary corkscrew into your bone in order to get to that lovely marrow hidden deep inside.
It is, all told, an uncomfortable experience.
The friendly pathologist who performed my bone marrow biopsy was quite nice. She commented that I have nice, strong bones, and was glad I was such a good patient. I can’t imagine lying there screaming and crying over it, though. I would notice myself getting a bit tense, and slowly relax all of my muscles o
ne at a time. I probably did that three or four times, I guess.
It was over quickly enough, and I asked to see my bone marrow slide. She didn’t end up taking a core sample — she said she didn’t think I needed it done. I leave that decision to her. Hopefully I won’t have to experience the fun that is a bone marrow biopsy again any time soon.
Bone marrow biopsies: not recommended for a good time.
Afterwards, I had a cup of tea to relax, and hopped on the skytrain at Brentwood (aka the prettiest of the skytrain stations) and spent the rest of the day at work, trying my best to not be too spacey while my butt slowly lost the freeze.
This week things are reasonably open. Next week I have a PET scan (that should be very interesting) and the excisional biopsy. I’ve also already received my prescription for the anti-nausea drugs I’ll have to take when chemo starts. And then we’ll see what happens next.
I’m just glad that things are moving again. I can feel the well-oiled machine that is the Burnaby Cancer Centre and its team, working together to help me get better. I am nothing if not a fan of efficiency.