Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cancer Recheck - new oncologist

Last Friday, while I was in Rapids (Wisconsin Rapids) meeting the new oncologist, my daughter was in Point (Stevens Point) having an ultrasound.  Since her story is shorter I’ll tell it first.  There are 10 fingers and 10 toes and what appears to be a healthy baby girl.  It has been at least 17 years since this family has had a baby girl so we’re all very excited!  And they changed the due date from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.  I’m thinking, why bother with a one day change, the baby will come when she’s ready.


Now, as for my appointment, it went great!  The nurses were nice, the doctor was nice (with a sense of humor even).  I must say I walked in exhausted, feeling like I was spinning my wheels and wasting my time and theirs.  But as I answered their questions and listened to the oncologist’s advice I knew I was in the right place.

He had already reviewed my chart by the time I got there.  He told me his game plan - PET/CT at least once a year, maybe every 6 months, depends on what’s needed.  He gave me plenty of time to talk about my concerns and feelings.  He gave me ample opportunity for questions and his game plan was exactly what I had in mind, without having to be the first to say it.

He set my PET/CT scan (I wrote about what a PET scan is when I had my last one and have copied it below so you don’t have to click a link to the old blog) up for this Tuesday, that’s why I waited a bit to tell you all about the visit.   The three people involved with the scan were all very nice (where have these people been hiding?!)  I found out from the lady who stuck my arm (one stick -yay) that the syringe in made out of tungsten which is even stronger than lead.  He will call with the results.

As much as I hate it, he has also set me up for a sigmoidoscopy - this is less than a colonoscopy, but a small scope, part of the way.  I have had a couple of episodes of bleeding in the last couple of months.  He did say it could still be the anastomosis (the area that was resected - uh sorry, where the ends of the colon were put back together minus the missing 5 inches) getting irritated but he wants to make sure we don’t miss anything.  So while I hate these type of tests I know he’s right.  I met with that doctor on Tuesday as well, actually his nurse, who was very pleasant and reassuring and only annoyed me a little by using my name as every third word of every sentence.  They did change the scope to the full blown colonoscopy but since the prep is the same for either test I can live with that.  I get this fun experience on Friday, yes tomorrow, Friday.  BTW, I hate the prep, I'm already a nervous wreak and will continue to get worse up until it's over.

Regarding my port-a-cath, he wants to leave it in.  He says that the most critical time is the first three years, counting from my last chemo, so he would like it to stay until June 2009.  I’m cool with that because it really doesn’t bother me.  A part of me wants it out, to signify the end of dealing with cancer but a part of me wants it to stay, just in case.  It makes drawing blood, getting Ivs, chemo, etc, so much easier!

lily of the valley

I know I’m jumping around a bit here but I was really not happy with the oncologist I saw a few weeks ago.  The day after I met with him they were already calling and scheduling the port removal.  They had it set up for the 18th and even though I canceled the scan I had let them schedule, they still thought they were taking it out - uh, no.

So, I was really happy to find an oncologist who, I feel, still sees me as important.  Some of them make me feel like since I am done with chemo, in remission, their job is done. But this guy rocks!

They were able to access my port in one stick and were able to draw blood and flush it without any issue at all.  It loves me!  It’s still totally functional, even though it hadn’t been accessed in so long.  To be honest, I was a little nervous after the way the other place acted but I calmed my fears by reminding myself I was in a hospital if a clot was there.  And the oncologist and nurse were informed on how long it had been since it had been used.  They weren’t nervous at all, although they expected it to give some trouble.  I do have to go back every 6-8 weeks to keep it flushed and ready for duty.

Now we wait.


July 3, 2007
I went for my PET scan this morning.  And no that is not the procedure where they place kittens, puppies, hamsters and parakeets all over you and let them run amuck.  A PET scan is used to stage cancer, verify chemo is working (tumors shrinking) or see metastasis (new cancer) in cancer survivors.  I know there are other uses for PET scans but that is their purpose in cancer patients.

I really don't mind the PET scans and they help put my mind to rest, at least for awhile.  This will be the last one I will have for a year {except that changed when they found something and I went on to biopsies, it should have been done March 2008} and was my 5th one in the last year and a half.

A PET scan is different from a CT scan as they inject you with radiated glucose solution, have you rest quietly for a period of time and then look for areas of your body that are "eating" the sugar.  Cancer cells are hungry little guys and are eager to eat the sugar so the areas with the most sugar concentration will glow on the scan and the doctors will know you have a new tumor, potentially.

The worst part about the PET scan is the IV, so see, it's really a painless procedure.  This is one time that my port-a-cath cannot be used.  The sugar would cling to the tubing and make that area glow a lot.  So, I had to have an IV, like a normal person.  This whole mess almost has made me decide to keep my port.  The tech went straight for the tender area of the inside of my wrist, ignoring the crook of the elbow completely.

After that vein blew, became unusable, she got an RN to try.  The RN went directly to the back of the hand - also a very painful area.  That vein blew too and she went to the back of the other hand.  Finally a vein that would work for the short time it was needed.  I now have bruises all over both hands and wrists.

It's kinda funny that I never really paid attention to the solution that got injected into me until today.  I think that speaks for how crappy I felt during the others.  Today I saw the tech wheel a cart to my door holding a lead box.  The lead box was a little bigger than an ammo box and I only know that because I geocache and many caches are ammo boxes.  She opened the lid and pulled up on a handle, again made of lead, attached to a smaller box.  This box was locked and after she unlocked it she withdrew a metal syringe.

I find it odd that I never noticed the syringe before today but I figure I must have just forgotten.  After my 45 minute resting time, in which I have to lay there, unmoving with my eyes closed to allow the sugar to travel on its own, I entered the scan.  The scan is much like the big doughnut of a CT scan but it takes 20 minutes, instead of just in and out.

lily of the valley


  1. Baby girl - awesome!

    And I'm glad all went well with the new Doc!

  2. That's great news 2X! It's sooooo important to have a doctor you feel comfortable with...glad you've got one. Sweet pics too, by the way.

  3. Hi Lisa,

    I just want to thank you for stopping by my blog. And I love your shots, those little bell like flowers are fantastic (I'm useless with flower names). thanks for sharing!


  4. I'm so happy about the baby girl! Awesome...and she'll make for all kinds of new photo opportunities!

    Glad you are happy with your new onc. I think it is becoming increasingly harder these days to find a doctor who treats his patients as PEOPLE instead of a number. Bedside manner means alot! I'm happy you're happy and am keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well.

  5. Oh, Lisa... I'm so glad you like your new oncologist and dumped that other guy. Their main job is taking care of YOU. Whatever that means to you. Any doctor that loses sight of that needs to find another job. This one sounds like he cares and he LISTENS - another big part of taking care of people. And doctors like that tend to surround themselves with other caring people, so I'm not surprised that your nurses and technicians were also so much better.

    I have that issue with the blowing out veins whenever I need a stick. I usually walk away looking like I've been mugged. I've found that if I drink A LOT of water the day before it goes much easier though.

    Congratulations on the baby girl, Grandma! One of the girls at work is pregnant with a girl and we're thrilled. They've all been boys for the last 10 years around there.

  6. Good to hear that all went well and you're an expecting Christmas Grandma! ;)
    Nice shots you strew into the story, too!
    Cheers, Klaus

  7. Congratulations! I bet someone is gonna go mad shopping again, even though she said she wouldn't! :-) Hugs to you!

  8. Remember that they kind of knock you out for the least they do here - so I'm thinking it's not going to be as bad as you are imagining - like we all do. Got my fingers crossed for you anyway Lisa. I absolutely hate the prep needed for this - in the bathroom and cramping way too much! But it's always good to get the all-clean results....You'll be fine - I know it!

    and btw - I loved loved loved the pics. The Lily of the Valley made me smile - sad smile - but still a smile...

  9. Congrats on the new onc. I'm so glad you found a good one. (P.S. Like the new stylesheet -- yes, I can see it, but it doesn't really signify, b/c I'm at work. I probably won't be able to see it at home. Sigh.)

  10. Christmas will be an exciting time :) Your new oncologist sounds great too few Drs see their patients as people. Hope all goes well tomorrow.

  11. Two bits of good news! Yeah! The new design is beautiful, as of course are the photos.

  12. This is all such good news!!! A baby granddaughter on Christmas day? You are blessed Lisa!!!

    I have something else to make your day, come by my blog to collect it!!!

  13. I am so happy for you!!! What a relief that you have a team that cares and is on the same page as you, that makes you feel safe and confident!! I am also happy for the news of a baby girl!!! Just a tiny bit jealous but so happy for you and the fam!!!

  14. Woohoo on the baby girl! So glad you found a caring doctor and staff. Try to relax today.

  15. I am so proud of you, listening to your gut feeling. Indeed, this guy rocks. Sorry about the full blown colonoscopy. I hate those, and told them I was never doing that, again. Of course, I will, but did I mention that I hate those. Good luck with all the test.

    Baby girls are the best. You just wait. I told Bob this year I wish we'd have another granddaughter, ours is 15, and wonderful, but no longer likes to cuddle. He said, No.

  16. This sounds VERY promising Lisa. Baby girls? WOW - VERY COOL.

  17. YEAH!!! I'm so glad you've found a doctor you like and trust. I'm a firm believer in firing doctors who make you unhappy just like you'd fire anyone else you pay to perform a service for you. My oldest son was a preemie and he spent 6 weeks in NICU when he was born. He got a new doc on day 4 who I didn't like or trust and on day 6 I looked right at him and said "You're fired!" He was shocked and if the situation hadn't been so serious it would have been funny. I fired 2 nurses over that 6 weeks too LOL They work for you and if you can't trust them or talk to them what good are they?

    Congrats on the baby girl!! Baby girls are so sweet! I know you're excited to meet her.

  18. Beautiful pictures. Nice addition to such a serious story. Glad things are looking up with the doctor, and VERY happy for the new girl coming soon!

  19. I used to do surveys and was always surprised when people both loved and hated hospitals and clinics in small cities. Glad you have a good team now. I remember having to get blood drawn from my hands because the doctor was bad at drawing blood. Back when a doctor would do that. So nice to have a healthy baby girl on the way during the holidays.
    I love the new blog, it loads faster and the comments are easier to use. And of course it looks great!

  20. Yay for the news about the new grandbaby. :)

    And I'm glad your appointment went well and that the Friday colonoscopy went well, too. Yay!

  21. I've been away for some weeks; trying to catch up on reading blogs - particularly yours. My, you've changed it - it was like going to a 'new home', and I love the look!!!!

    Your photos are beautiful as always. Glad to hear of your progress; your 'new babe' that's going to be born right around the time of Jesus's birth - hey, that has to be an omen.

    I wish you the best; I'm the one who has a daughter named Lisa Marie Hinkley; born 9/12/1960 - there you go, sweetie, you remember me I'm sure. Love you. Diane

  22. wisconsin hospitals...

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  23. I had no idea! I am sad, sad that you have to battle the beats! I had cancer too, I am in the safe years now.
    {{{{{{ Lisa.}}}}}