Where do I even begin after my “whirl-wind” day yesterday? We went to the Dana Farber for a second opinion. My thought for doing this was to get peace of mind that I was doing the right thing about my treatment. I figured they were going to say basically the same thing my doctors at Mass. General said and I would feel like I was making the right choice. Boy was I wrong!
The Farber is an incredible place. I was amazed the moment we walked in the door. We met with a team of doctors, including radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, and medical oncologists. They did a full “background” check and got my history. Then the team did a physical exam, including a scope of my vocal cords and nasopharynx (THAT was fun! Yuck!). After that they left to discuss my case.
Everything changed the next time the door opened! The surgical oncologist and radiation oncologists came back in and my worst fear came true! They had decided as a group that the carotid surgery was NOT the way to go and had too many risks. This is what I had felt since day one and was not confident about the surgery at all!
So they were now suggesting that I begin nine weeks of very aggressive chemotherapy, three cycles, of three very strong chemo drugs (Cisplatin, Taxotere, and Fluorouracil, also called 5-FU). They have had much success with treating squamous cell carcinoma with this regiment and feel that it will respond well to the drugs. I have also never had chemo before so they think I will tolerate it well, being young and healthy, and that it will either eliminate the tumor or shrink it enough to then do a less risky surgery and treat it further with radiation and a lesser dose of chemo.
So now, as I looked at my Mom and Dad who were sitting in the room with me, I was so confused and flooded with information, I did not know what to do! But for some reason, a strange calm came over me and I knew the choice I had to make. Since the day the doctors at Mass. General suggested the surgery, it had not sat well with me. I never ONCE had a positive feeling about this surgery option and actually had more negative feelings than I care to share. There was NO way I could go in for MAJOR surgery, as risky as it would be, feeling the way I did.
I finally had a plan that I was willing to try and actually felt GOOD about! Sure, I am not thrilled to deal with side effects from infusion chemotherapy for nine weeks. Nor am I thrilled to lose all of my hair, but it will give me an excuse to buy some new baseball hats!!
So after talking this plan over with the doctors at DF quite extensively, I decided that in my heart I KNEW that this was the “better” choice for me. So I go back to DF tomorrow, Thursday, for a full-body PET scan to make sure this damn disease has not spread to anywhere else. Then I go on Monday to have my Porta-cath inserted in my chest for the chemo infusions. And at 7:45am on Tuesday morning, I begin my treatments.
I also know that I cannot do this alone with two young kids at home. They say I'll be too fatigued to take care of myself, never mind Cam and Kacey. So Mom has "graciously" offered to move in when necessary. Oh what fun that will be!! Just kidding Mom!! I love you and Dad and couldn't do this without either of you!! And I am sure Jen will be there when my parents are not. Not easy for her either with three kids at home under 3 1/2! Love you for that, Bub! The kids will also be staying with Chris and his parents a bit more than usual, and I thank them greatly for that as well. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system of family and friends that will give up things in their own lives to make sure I get better and my kids are taken care of.
I feel like I have been given another chance. I feel relieved that I am not thinking about the surgery now. I finally feel like I have a plan, that I have some control over. I finally feel like I have some peace and that I can now move forward and get rid of this disease once and for all! Is it the right choice? Who knows! But it feels like the “better” choice. And a choice I can live with….and hopefully for a long, long time!