Friday, July 23, 2010

Cancer Treatment Is Mostly Driving

This morning Matt and I went to see a radiation oncologist. This is one of the fun things we're doing together while the kids are out of town. Actually, I always have fun going places with Matt and chatting with him. If you know him in real life, you know he'll talk your damn ear off. We also ate at a new taqueria last night. We are nailing this dating thing.

Back when the idea of radiation was first raised by my oncologist, I was hoping that if I needed it, I'd be able to go get irradiated by somebody up here in my neck of the woods, rather than having to drive all the way down to the big hospital at the perimeter. Which is Atlanta-speak for the interstate beltway that goes all the way around the city in a ring. We live way up the highway north of that ring, about a forty minute drive from the big hospital. Forty minutes of driving is not THAT long, but it's forty not-very-awesome minutes. Anyway, my onc was like, "Yeah, you can go see Dr. Chad, the local dude ten minutes from your house, he's good, no worries." Really, his name is Chad.

This matters because we're not talking about one trip to get radiation. Count yourself lucky if you don't already know that radiation treatment is every day, five days a week, for five or six weeks. I know, like, geez.

So part of me was not even surprised when the radiation issue came up again at my appointment on Wednesday and the oncologist was all, "Yeeeeeah, I really think that you should drive down to the big hospital and see Dr. Wonderful. Dr. Chad is good but he ain't her. She's thoughtful and she won't treat you unless she thinks you need it. Other doctors have the machine on before you get in the room. You will like her. It will be a long haul every day, but if it were me, I'd go to her." Dr. Wonderful's name had kept coming up. The surgeon had recommended her, and now the oncologist was bringing her up. They really truly are like a sorority, these docs of mine; it's interesting to me how they operate and how they communicate with each other about cases. Anyway.

We rolled down to see this Dr. Wonderful this morning. I did like her. And it's funny, these docs must get the word from each other that when Matt and I show up, there will be a test, because they are like going on and on about this protocol from MD Anderson and that study and 30 year outcomes and what have you. We ran the smart cop/dumb cop on her and I was satisfied. She also had a young intern with her and he got to see my boobs. Score one for him.

The doc marveled at how good my reconstruction was looking, and I was like, "Yes, in spite of everything I am totally hot, thanks for noticing." Or maybe she meant it looked good from a medical standpoint.

She called my original surgeon while we were there and conferred with her, and she wants me to have 28 treatments. We are in agreement with her that we don't want to half-ass this thing.

28 days of daily 80-minute round trips down to the perimeter is 37.33 hours of driving. I asked if I could be put under general anesthesia for the five weeks of treatment, but nope. So dang, here's one aspect of this whole thing that I didn't think was going to be the most maximum hassle that it could be, but it turns out it will be that much hassle. I know, please call the wahmbulance.

I'm not sure how all the scheduling will work out, but I won't start treatment until after school starts for Laura. Hank won't be in school yet. The doc actually said that I could bring Hank with me, and the nurses could watch him while I got zapped. She said a lot of mothers of young children do that. That doesn't sound like an attractive option, but we'll figure it all out somehow.

There's some Friday boob news for yous.

22 comments:

Veronica said...

OMG, I had no idea you had to go in that much for radiation!! The drive sounds craptastic, but I'm glad you're going with Dr. Wonderful. No need to half-ass the treatment, and no need to go with the just-okay doc. Can't wait until this is DONE for you!

Kelly said...

You know Hank is always welcome here if you need help (or I can come there). That's a ridiculous amount of driving but I am sure it will be worth it. Miss you!!!

M said...

Is there a way just to be airlifted to this radiation joint? Does Dr. Wonderful issue frequent driver miles that could be redeemed for a beach get-away or an Ikea purchase?

Mary

Amy said...

Mary, I like the way you think. :)

Aw man, Beck, I was hoping you wouldn't have to do the long drive everyday. Doing it five days a week--it's like a commute. Will they give you a cubicle? Of course, you're right--in the long run it's worth it to know you've gone to the best. Dr. Wonderful sounds just that.

I'm worried about Dr. Chad, though. Do you think he's getting edged out cause he's a dude? Maybe they won't let him in the sorority.

Michele R said...

Please tell me you'll be driving after the a.m. commute (i.e. after 10:00) and prior to the 3:00+ commute. How long does it take once they start?
What do you think of audio books?

Jenni said...

I have to agree with all above comments. You should have the best. Maybe get some recorded books from the library?

Maggie said...

I sure hate that you have to do that drive. The idea of audio books is a good one. I cannot handle them because I get too distracted listening to the story but you are so fab that I know you can handle them.Keep us posted on all of this. Hugs

kathy said...

I don't envy you driving through all that crazy traffic. I get white knuckles just driving on Interstate 10 when traffic is slightly heavy. I agree that a great audio book might be in order. I'm sorry that you'll need so many zaps. I also had no idea that radiation treatments occurred every day for several weeks. As always, you're in our thoughts and prayers!.

Rick Dakan said...

Becky, check your e-mail RE: audio books, and let me know if there's nothing there.

Sjn said...

I don't know if you go to Emory, but...Did you know that Emory (the Real Emory Downtown) just bought full ownership of Emory Johns Creek? My Onc thinks that will bring some of the Winship Docs up here to us. He said the Radiology department now is all "real" Emory Docs and staff, and always has been.
I know what you mean about that drive. I've been over to Kennestone Hospital, where they have the only Georgia Cyberknife, twice now for consultations, and that's quite the drive too!
You have to do what's right for you and have the best doctors. Maybe you can keep interviewing?

Elle said...

I seem to remember radiation being an inpatient treatment in the 80s. Man, America used to be awesome. Can you hire a driver? Someone's retired husband who doesn't have enough to do? I'm serious, because that kind of driving every day seems at cross-purposes with the business of getting well. Not to seem bossy.

Amy said...

uuuuuuuugh. But, how you make yards and yards of blog silk out of that sort of sow's ear of a day of a never ceases to amaze me. I love the "there will be a test," and the whole smart/dumb cop bit. You all are really, really awesome.

GA for the whole treatment = genius! Short of that, yeah, audiobooks. And your laptop, with which to keep us all entertained. xoxo

Jane said...

Wow, that is a lot of driving. I had no idea radiation therapy was so... everlasting. Hang in there.

I would love to hear more about the smart cop/dumb cop routine.

Keely said...

What a PITA. At least it's got an expiry date, and you're right, you shouldn't half-ass it. Is it as spa-like as the chemo?

puncturedbicycle said...

Isn't it great that the doctor told you what she would do if it was her own treatment? Sometimes they give you a pile of neutral options that you can't possibly hope to sift through because you just don't have enough information. So, shame about the distances, but at least it sounds like it was an easy enough decision to make.
Glad to hear that your reconstruction is babelicious too. Good luck with it all.

The Messy Mom said...

Goodness, I am sorry. That really stinks. Your attitude is amazing though. Here I am feeling so bad for you and laughing at the same time because you are hilarious. Go Becky.

PS- If the Perimeter is where the Perimeter mall is then I've been there lots when I was in middle school and lived in that area :)

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Hells bells! Maybe get some good books on tape?

Hope the intern was cute, anyway.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Rent a helicopter?

A Day That is Dessert said...

Oh Becky. I am so sorry you're having to do this. Radiation was worse for me than chemo in many ways because of the Monday through Friday part of it, among other things. You're on the home stretch though. Really.

Beth said...

Damn, girl. Steve did the radiation thing with his cancer, and I was shocked back then that you have to go in every day. Total BS. He got some really good standup material out of it, though. Honestly. After his treatment he was doing standup a lot and he had a whole plethora of material on radiation. So I know you're gonna have blog GOLD on your hands.

Juliet Grossman said...

Sucks on all the driving....sorry:-(

You don't strike me as the tattoo type, but they might do "radiation tattoos" on you (which shows them where to direct the beam.) What a "my first tattoo" story!

gretchen said...

I'm so ignorant of this stuff (thank God) that I don't get the difference between chemo and radiation. Did you explain this already? Big drag. But I totally agree that it's best to go for the most recommended doctor. Think of it as a tiny bit of time in what will be a very long life. I like Michelle R's books on tape idea. Or you could just listen to Matt talk your ear off. And for the record, according to my New York friends, the correct spelling is "youse".