Our MDA trip on Monday finally brought closure to the journey. We have been living in the middle for a while… maybe here, maybe there. MDA is supposed to be great, but my home, my family is here. Experience vs. inconvenience.
After enjoying some great fellowship with our Life Group Sunday night, we again found ourselves on the dark, empty road to Houston. A drive that I used to not mind, but lately I have come to curse. Blessed to have Ethan’s mom live so close to the med center, we woke early Monday to start another day of doctors and decisions. First up, the surgeon. She was ready to do surgery. She was confident that she could get the cancer. She even put a glimmer of hope for radiation. Nice lady, but I walked out of there not convinced that I would carry out the surgery that I had just put on the calendar. My surgeon is as good as her. I can just take the info back to her.
On our way to grab lunch, I called my surgeon. I gave her some details, she agreed and sounded like she could be convinced to go ahead with surgery. But then she threw a major kink in, “You know I am pregnant, right? My last surgery will be Oct 31.” It would be a giant feat to get scheduled and everyone on the same page in the next 2 weeks. Que the slammed door.
Next up, oncologist. He is a brilliant man from Mexico who has 25 years of MDA cancer experience. He speaks with a heavy accent and is the definition of a close-talker, but he is great. He reviewed the scans from last week communicating that we are looking at a mass about 8cm x 5cm x 3cm. Aggressive, rare, but still contained. No evidence of lymph nodes effected. He agreed, surgery. Again, thanks for the 2nd opinion, but I was still planning on surgery at home. And at this point, I even called my surgeon back to see if I could get on her schedule.
Before we head home, Ethan and I decide that seeing the radiation oncologist would be beneficial. So, we go to the desk, we request and appointment and just like that we have one. This man was my modern day Gabriel. He stepped in the room, big yet gentle, and spoke the words that would change my course. The community (outside of MDA) standard is to not radiate an area more than once. But experience and precision of MDA has shown them that it can be done, and in some cases changes your statistics for the better. The surgeon will do her best to get all the active, known cancer out. But there is always the chance of the random cells that are slightly distant from the margins that may come back clear. And that is where radiation picks up the baton and finishes the race. Radiation is like an extension of surgery, able to widen the treatment field. When Austin radiation oncologist took the option of radiation off the table, it was a big disappointment. Like a major player was taken from my game plan. So to be associated with a team that would bring it back, was a giant deciding factor.
Let’s also go here for a moment. Go back to 2010. We are cancer-naive. We are being fed the information we needed to make decisions, but maybe didn’t get the real, big picture back then. There are things from the 2010 pathology that make my doctors in Austin say, “I am not surprised it came back.” And, “Why did they not take all of your lymph nodes?” And, “Why did they not radiate the upper level 3 nodes?” It was not communicated that the cancer had vascular “tentacles” that could easily carry the cancer, causing a recurrence. So, we could go as far to say, if we had more information in 2010, would the picture look different today? And I certainly don’t want to be asking myself that question 3 years from now. I have the opportunity to use some of the best in cancer care. Only a fool would choose convenience over experience. Especially when this experience can extend my life.
Surgery is November 5th at MDA in Houston. There are still appointments to be done, pre-op testing, and after pathology is in from the surgery the next game plan will be put in place.