Meeting the oncologist part 1: establishing trust

15316677Yesterday I blogged about receiving my biopsy result and getting a PET scan. Today I am going to write about meeting my oncologist. I am only going to blog about the first half of the meeting in this post. It is during the first half of the meeting I was able to meet my oncologist and decide whether I would keep her as my doctor. I will also note this is likely be a shorter post than normal, mostly because I don’t remember too much from the first half of the oncologist meeting (the reason will become clear during the part 2 post).

On Wednesday, September 5, I had my PET scan performed. In my last post I documented the PET scan experience. At the end of that post I had just completed the scan. I was taken from the imaging department up to the cancer center. This was my first visit to the cancer center. I don’t remember being nervous going up. All I really remember is hoping the meeting wouldn’t take too long since I was hungry from fasting for the PET scan.

My wife and I were brought into a room. In there a staff member came to get my vitals and some other basic information. After a while the oncologist came in. Sometimes when meeting with doctors I get the idea they are really in a hurry and want to get on with doing something else in some other place. I did not get this impression from the oncologist. In fact she seemed fully committed to meeting me. Actually, she seemed invested in getting to know both me and my wife. I really appreciated the fact she was focused purely upon the two of us.

This part of the meeting seemed to last about an hour, although looking back I think it was probably less time than that. During that time the oncologist reviewed what was known so far from prior blood draws and the CT scan. She explained the different approaches she generally takes with follicular lymphoma and what drugs would likely be used. A lot of what she would recommended was dependent upon the PET scan results, what stage of lymphoma I had, and if it had transformed into a more aggressive flavor of lymphoma elsewhere in my body. There was already suspicion of the lymphoma being spread into a more aggressive type due to possible issues seen with my lungs and liver in the CT scan. Oftentimes with follicular lymphoma a “watch and wait” approach is taken for the early stages. Since I already had what is referred to as “B symptoms” it was less likely that I would have a watch and wait approach; but she said it really depended on what the PET scan shown. She noted it is likely I would have to have a bone-marrow biopsy if the PET scan shown signs of the cancer being spread. Overall she spent a lot of time making sure we understood what might happen in the future.

During this time the oncologist answered our questions and gave us some literature to look at on our own time. The main thing I did while speaking with the oncologist was to measure her up and decide whether I trusted her to be my cancer doctor. Both my wife any myself came to the conclusion we liked the oncologist and trusted her to lead my treatment going forward. Of course we were also comforted by the fact she was part of a larger cancer team centered out of Sioux Falls. No matter how much we trust her it was good to know she had other doctors to act as extra sets of eyes.

As I said at the beginning of this post I would make this one shorter than normal. I don’t really remember much from the first half of my meeting with the oncologist. But I do remember that both my wife and I were able to determine that we trust this oncologist and believe she will work hard to fight my cancer.

This post basically is the end of my writing about the initial diagnostics phase of my cancer. Tomorrow I plan to do a recap of  the diagnostic posts I have written so far. Then on Thursday I will blog about the second half of the meeting with my oncologist. Everything changed for me at that time.

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