My favorite subject these days!
Yesterday, I went in to San Francisco to see Dr.Tom Engel and I felt the conversation and the outcome were a bit overwhelming. OK, a lot overwhelming. He is very adept at not answering direct questions - so much so that I was tempted to ask him if he is running for president (but I did not do that, I was good). Dr. Engel felt very strongly that I have a good chance to beat this cancer - with radical surgery and/or radiation, which is what he told me on the phone. I finally nailed him down and he recommends trying radiation first. He did not think a visit to an oncologist would be helpful for this type of cancer and told me FLAT OUT that oncology is only for chemotherapy (Not TRUE). I told him I was considering MD Anderson Hospital in Houston and he said that was a good choice. He ordered an MRI (next Thursday) and encouraged me to keep my appointment with the radiation oncologist today. Dr. Engel did not feel the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes at all, based on viewing the actual PET scan in color he said he though the areas which lit up in my neck were areas of inflammation.
So today, I went back in to SF and spent 3 hours at Cal Pacific in Dr. Abendorff's office (spelling). I liked the doctor a lot and I liked the practice. This doctor concurred that the cancer is medium to advanced stage but he feels that it can be handled successfully with radiation and possibly, radiation and chemotherapy (with surgery as a backup plan) so he gave the name of an oncologist - Dr. Alan Kramer, whom i will see next week. Dr. Abendorff also said MD Anderson was a good choice and I really should go there for a consult, no matter what. I will do that and also maybe go to Sloan Kettering in New York. Working on getting appointments set up for Houston for the week of October 20. No matter where I go, I should start treatment by November 1. Dr. Abendorff DID feel there is involvement in ONE lymph node and that we can get it with radiation.
Some good news from Dr. Abendorff - I probably will not lose my hair (not that I have much left) and it is safe to get back into the dye pot (YAY!). Also, long term side effects of radiation are not completely awful - worst is a high likelihood of developing cataracts due to the nearness of my eyes to the radiated sites. During treatment, it will be as if I have a bad sunburn inside and outside the area being treated, but he did say that given the amount of irritation currently in my nose, probably not much different than the pain I am now feeling inside. Outside will be a little tough but at least I will have my face, even if I do develop dry skin (God, and I have worked all of my life to maintain my skin).
Other good news - Dr. Goldfarb called this morning with Koukla's blood test results from yesterday and she is doing WONDERFULLY WELL (as I knew).