Any port in a storm
As I write this I find myself just seventeen days from diagnosis. My head is swimming. It has been just over two weeks from my diagnosis and I find myself asking where did all of this time go? Cancer, or any health issue, can very suddenly just take over your life. There are so many tests, and meetings and errands that go along with it.
I met my oncologist Friday to discuss the next week of activity. Monday I will graduate from radiation treatment. Tuesday I have a consult to place a port under my skin. Think of a port as a kind of humn USB Dock for the needles that come with Chemotherapy. They get to jack in and jack out without disrupting my veins that are already giving up on me.
During my care both during this incident and even from past incidents in the hospital my veins have gone from “GOOD performers” to those that are “Less than Ideal” for a long term treatment. The suggestion from my oncologist office was let’s get that port in place before we start, but lets not mess around and delay.
They really wanted me to start Chemo ASAP the VERY next day after my radiation treatments were completed, but then also felt that preserving my veins was important so I have a surgical consult setup for Tuesday, and with luck, a procedure Thursday so that Friday afternoon they can start the chemo treatments.
All this time since my diagnosis I have been off of work. That has been very appropriate and I needed to turn my energy inward to heal. Eventually however I will want to go back to work. It is important for my own self-esteem that I am the person in control of that. I don’t want an insurance company to be in charge of my status, I want to be in charge of my status. As an adult a little control helps to go a long way for your self-esteem.
I hope Monday to have a letter in hand from my oncologist that I can present to my company doctor Wednesday so I can then be the person to decide, is this a working day or a recovery day. That may be another week. When I do return to work it is likely at first that will happen remotely at home so that if and when I experience side effects I can deal with them. This will also have the added benefit that my immune system will not be bombarded with bacteria and virus in a large office environment, but once I get my feet under me, and I know how to manage what will become three months of daily activity, then I expect to be in the office with greater regularity.
Being in the office for me has always been rewarding. At night people often stream by my office and say “It’s time to go home Eric” because I am the kind of guy who tends to forget. Now that I really need it, there is great comfort knowing that others have my back. I never worry about things not being done, but I know I still have a lot to contribute.
Lastly I have hopes that this Wednesday night my family and I can meet with the people over at Gildas Club. Gilada Club offers community support to families facing the challenge we face. I have said over and over I have a strong support network and honestly, it is kind of ridiculous. I appreciate and love my family and we all want to be able to communicate effectively about this new challenge and I know GC can help me with that. The support from work is simply amazing. My neighbors are all rallying around me, have taken me to appointments, and provided a much needed ear and even support to care for my yard which by the way isn’t new. Thanks be to God for Jim Mills who has been so kind for years to help me physically when I cannot.
Beyond the support of friends, family, work and the community I have a world class medical and technical care team. Few people recognize the capability of Cancer care in the Quad Cities but it is simply AMAZING. The care HERE in the Quad-Cities can be every bit as good as that you find at Slone Kettering, Mayo, Johns Hopkins or the Dana-Farber center in Boston.
The Holden Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care is already guiding my local oncologist, supporting us with advanced labs and genetic testing, and maybe the single best bone marrow treatment centers on the planet. I have 100% faith that all outcomes will be a complete response, but I also know if they are not, they are up for doing a bone marrow transplant a second time, and few in the country will agree to that and that brings both hope and confidence.
The Holden Center in Iowa City is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated health care facility. What does that mean? It means that the University of Iowa is part of an elite group that collaborates on cancer research across the whole country. They just dumped over $15 Million dollars into the facility in advanced equipment and even brought in special companies to design the treatment chairs you sit in. It is a perfect fusion of form, function and science.