Today was the day.
For six long days, we’d been anticipating and dreading this day and the visit to the hematologist/oncologist. We were hoping to get more information about what had made Dave so very sick last week and landed him in the hospital, and also to find out more about the rest of his diagnosis.
We spent the morning keeping busy. Dave put together a binder that we’ll use to keep all of the medical information together. We paid some bills and did some chores, but we were both anxious.
The appointment was set for 12:30, but we were to be there early, to fill out the requisite new patient paperwork. We live on the edge of Sun City, a large retirement community in the northwest valley. Dave was struck by the fact that every single patient and companion was at least twenty-five years older than us. We saw some things that seemed to upset Dave a bit, or at least give him pause. I think that my experiences with Lisa and breast cancer perhaps prepared me a bit more for what to expect.
Our appointment time came and went. At about 12:40, the receptionist, on her way by to another part of the office stopped and said, “Are you still waiting?” We shook our heads and she bustled back and apparently cracked the whip. We were called right away.
The nurse asked Dave to step on the scale that sits in front of the checkout desk. Dave took off his baseball cap, his flip-flops and emptied his pockets, handing everything to me. Much to the amusement of the admin girls, I said, “Good grief! You’re worse than a girl!”
From there, we were placed in an exam room. Soon, Dr. Kahn came in, and we liked him immediately. He’s young, very animated and right away began explaining things with both the technical names and in layman’s terms. Because of what I do, I’m more familiar with various medical terms and conditions; but, it was good for Dave to have it broken down. I also think that it’s different when it’s happening to you. When you’re the observer, you register information and process it differently.
Right away, we were told that the reason that Dave had been in the hospital was due to a nasty bug. Somehow, somewhere, Dave was exposed to Giardia. Many of the things that he experienced are textbook for that type of thing. Thankfully, Dave was exposed to that pesky, disgusting little bug. If we were still of childbearing capabilities, I’m pretty sure that Giardia would be at the top of the list of baby names…that sucker may have saved Dave’s life!
Next, Dr. Kahn told us that Dave does have cancer. Specifically, he has neuroendocrine malignancies. There are several tumors on the outside lining of the liver. Because they only did CT scans and a targeted MRI of Dave’s midsection in the hospital, Dr. Kahn wants a PET scan of the whole body, to make sure that the cancer has not spread to any other organs. This will also help to establish the staging and provide a path for next steps.
The options are good…at least, they seem to be to me. The first, if the cancer is contained to the liver, is to go in and surgically remove them. If it were me, I know that my reaction would be, “DO IT! Cut those fuckers out!” (Sorry…if you’re new here, cancer makes me swear like a sailor.)
The second, also if it’s contained to the liver, would be to perform embolization. This would essentially cauterize the tumors.
If the cancer has spread, an option is for Dave to take medications.
It’s encouraging to me that we’re not talking rounds of intravenous chemo or radiation, and we’re not talking things like transplants. I know that Dave feels that some of the weight has been lifted.
Dr. Kahn spent almost forty-five minutes with us, talking and answering questions. He’s cheerful, and funny, with just the right note of gravity…exactly what we needed.
The PET scan is ordered for Monday morning. Dr. Kahn said that insurance companies are notoriously hesitant to authorize them, because they are very expensive tests. Dave and I both laughed. Oh ho ho, buddy boy! I DARE them to try to deny approval! We explained what I do for a living, and he laughed, as well. The test WILL be approved.
Dave has been cleared to work, and to resume normal activity levels. Dr. Kahn basically told Dave, “Do as much as you want and feel good doing.” The only restriction, for now, is no alcohol. Dave and I both are very casual drinkers, so we could take it or leave it. Though Dave is done with the antibiotics for the Giardia as of today, he can’t have any alcohol for another week. The time in the hospital, and the time since, have weaned Dave off of diet soda and beer. He is intent on sticking to water, tea or juice. Diet and exercise are going to change for both of us, as well. It certainly can’t hurt.
Before we left for the appointment, Dave and I were sitting in our bedroom, talking. We could hear Ben & Isabel talking out in the living room. I know that they are worried. Dave is a very hands on dad, and he is very close to both of our kids. Today’s news helped to ease their fears a bit, and for that, I’m glad.
Tomorrow will be hard for Dave. It will be his first day back to work, and there will be many people to talk to about what’s going on. When he called yesterday, the director of all of the headquarter sites for Dave’s company told him that there are people at work who are Dave’s second family. I appreciated hearing that for Dave’s sake.
We are so very grateful for the love and support that we’ve been flooded with from around the world. Once again, I am blown away by the power of social media. We have gotten messages from so many wonderful people. It is humbling to know that we are not alone in this journey. It is not possible to say it enough…they are such insufficient words; but, know that I say them here with all of my heart…