Getting a second opinion for cancer treatment is essential as there are so many different options. I thank God for all the cures that are being discovered and are available to us now – more than at any other time in history. This is Part 8 of my Cancer Journal, which began in July of 2016.
On July 21, 2017, about two weeks after I had lung surgery (right upper lobectomy), I had a follow-up appointment, and the surgeon gently went through the pathology report with me. Yes, he had talked to my husband and me in the hospital about his preliminary impressions, but he didn’t know at the time what the pathologist would find.
I emailed my sis-in-law that afternoon with the results.
We got the pathology report today, and they found cancer in a mass that was 1.7 cm in diameter, close to where the first surgery was done, and in one of sixteen lymph nodes that were removed. The next step, according to the surgeon, is chemotherapy. My surgeon says I need to wait at least four weeks after surgery to begin anything.
We had hoped for more encouraging news, but we’re trusting the Lord for this, too. Thanks again for your prayers.”
That same evening, my sis-in-law put me in touch with Janet Freeman-Daly, a woman who is a six-year survivor of Stage IV lung cancer and a patient advocate on the President’s Council for Lung Cancer Research, and who also blogs about lung cancer research at Gray Connections.
I emailed Janet, she wrote back, and we talked on the phone a couple of times after that. She answered my questions about my upcoming appointment with my oncologist and advised me to ask for genetic and molecular testing on my tissue samples. Our conversations helped me to prepare for the options before me. I even compiled a list of questions to take to my appointment. (Thanks again, Janet!)
The First Opinion
On July 31, 2017, I met with an oncologist to learn about my treatment options. He recommended standard chemo and radiation and said the treatments would be given in Seattle. I asked if there was any way to get them at another facility to avoid Seattle traffic. He said my HMO had an agreement with a clinic in Everett, and would I like a referral to go there for treatment? Although it would be farther away from home, the drive north would go against rush-hour traffic and would be quicker. Yes, I said gratefully. He wrote the referral.
He also said I would need to have a port placed in my chest for the “hundreds of infusions” of chemo that I would receive.
I was dismayed. Somewhat apologetically, I asked, “Could I get a second opinion?”
He smiled and said he had already written three referrals for second opinions that morning, and wrote one on the spot for me to see an oncologist at the leading cancer center.
The Second Opinion
Ten days later, on August 10, 2017, my husband and I saw a specialist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA.) His assistant, a doctor who was doing a fellowship, chatted with me first. Then the oncologist came into the room, reviewed my case, examined me, and shared his thinking. Could my original cancer have been lung cancer and not thyroid cancer? (He ordered a test.) Could I qualify for a clinical trial or targeted therapy? He ordered genetic and molecular testing to be done on my cancerous tissues. Finally, he outlined his recommendation for treatment, which was a course of chemotherapy consisting of a total of four infusions of the two drugs he’d found most effective for cancer like mine. When my chemo was completed, I would get a course of radiation. The next few months would take me into new territory. I wondered if the treatment was meant to eradicate the cancer or to restrain it from growing any bigger. “What’s the purpose of the treatment?” I asked.
“We’re aiming for cure.”
In that moment, as you can imagine, I felt a surge of renewed hope, God’s grace shining on me like sunshine. In my journal, Psalm 147:11 (NIV) was highlighted.
The Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
On 8/28/17, I emailed a cousin who had battled cancer years ago.
Thanks for reminding me about your cancer and treatment. So glad you’re cancer-free!
I’m due to see an oncologist in Everett next week to set up plans for chemo. In the meantime, I’m taking it easy, trying not to watch too many crime shows, ha. We took the family to an Aquasox game yesterday. We won. 🙂 “
Thanks for reading, and thanks to you who’ve prayed for me.
Posted on April 18, 2018
Previous: Part 7 – Lobectomy of the Lung
Next: Part 9 – Chemotherapy