Thursday, March 3, 2011

OU Cancer Institute Appointment Update

After four hours of driving yesterday morning Billy and I arrived at the OU Cancer Institutee in Oklahoma City.  I had an appointment at 12:30 for an MRI.  This scan was to be used as a preparation tool for the Interstitial Brachy Therapy (internal radiation) that I am to have done as the next part of my treatment plan.  By 12:45 I had changed into a gown and had a large plastic piece strapped over my abdomen and to the table I laid on.  I had contrast material put in my body to help decipher the scans better and then they put the table and myself inside the closed tube to be scanned.  Funny thing is that they gave me some headphones to listen to music while I lay there for the next 90 minutes, but there is no way you can hear that music.  If you've ever had an MRI you know those machines make a bunch of loud beeps and buzzes the entire time it scans and the tech's voice comes through the headphones loudly to tell you what is happening and when to breath or not breath.  It was a long process that I realized ended at 2:15 when I was supposed to be to a doctor appointment at 1:00 and another at 2:30.  The great news is that they work really well together there and everyone adapted to have us seen by both doctors and finished a little after 5 pm. 

I saw the radiation oncologist (Rad-Onc) first.  She specializes in Interstitial Brachy Therapy and although she needs much more time to really study my scans she believes I've had a good response from the treatments so far which has caused the vaginal wall to be less thick.  This causes some concern that there isn't enough strong tissue for the 20 needles required in Interstitial to hold on to so she is questioning whether we should do a cylinder treatment instead.  I don't know a whole lot about the cylinder treatment, but it is possible that I wouldn't have to spend the night quarantined with this type of treatment.  I tried not to get my hopes up as I am mentally prepared at this point to do the Interstitial and be quarantined for 72 hours if needed.

The next appointment was with the gynecology oncologist (Gyn-Onc).  She had not had a chance to study the scans yet, but based on her exam she believes there is enough tissue to do the Interstitial.  So, we have a debate here.  She recommended that her and the Rad-Onc take my case to the tumor board to be reviewed by all 9 Gyn-Oncs and the rest of the team.  Again, I heard that my case is not common and the more heads around it the better.  The tumor board will meet on Thursday, 3/10 so I won't hear anything until after that.  However, its possible that they will start the treatment of choice on Monday 3/14.

The Gyn-Onc also discussed the removal of my ovaries and although she said she would remove them if it was her, she also said she has lost the human side of this and is more focused on the highest cure rate and the lowest recurrence rate causing her to go to the extremes at times.  She did suggest that they draw blood for a hormone test to see if I am producing estrogen at all right now because my ovaries were in the route of radiation and I've had symptoms of menopause already.  The reason they would want to remove the ovaries is because the stain that was done on the removed lesion came back as 74% estrogen cell positive.  This means this is a hormonally driven cancer.  In breast cancer patients they would remove the ovaries if the test came back 10% positive, but of course they have no statistic for my cancer so it is my decision.  I agreed to do the hormone test and we'll hear back in 7 - 10 days to help make this decision easier.

It was a long day with very few real decisions or a concrete plans at the end of it.  However, I know there were so many prayers lifted up for me because everything went much smoother than expected.  I started to feel better in the afternoon with my headache, energy and stomach.  It was still a physically painful day and exhausting process, but I had it in my mind it would be much worse than it thank you.  We have a God that hears the prayers of many and cares.  That is such a comfort to me.

Here are some verses I said over and over in my mind yesterday.

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you."  Deut 31:6

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future".  Jer 29:11

It was so encouraging to me to know that my God was with me always and that he doesn't have plans to harm me, but wants to give me HOPE and a FUTURE!  He wants that for you too and I hope you are encouraged by that as well!

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