Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Scream

So I had an oncology clinic appointment this morning, and I was all geared up to challenge the head oncologist at Our Lady of the Damned. I had done my research and I was prepared to go to the mat if I had to. My plan was to demand that I stop chemo and have a PET scan after six treatments instead of completing all eight that he had recommended. I was all set to earn my wings as an Advanced Assertive Cancer Patient. I was going to pin the dude to the fucking wall.

Here's the letter I had written outlining my position:

Dr. Oncologist:

I would like to stop R-CHOP after the sixth treatment on January 25th.

I have not been able to find any evidence in the medical literature to indicate that the benefit of extending treatment to eight sessions outweighs the considerable risks. There are indications that any malignant cells surviving six sessions of R-CHOP are most likely refractory so that extending more of the same treatment for six additional weeks would be a dangerous waste of time.

I would like to schedule a PET scan as soon as possible after the sixth treatment. If the scan looks good, then I will proceed with maintenance Rituxan; if not, other options must be considered, including wait & watch, radiation, autologous stem cell transplant, etc.

Thanks very much.

Lymphopo DuDamned


I was expecting some resistance from The Man. By the time they called my name over the PA, I was raring to fight. My jaw was locked in a fierce bulldog underbite, my eyes were bulging, I had steam pouring out of my ears. Snorting and pawing the dirt like El Toro, I all but had a bright red Question Authority bumper sticker plastered across my forehead.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to see my favorite resident, the one who actually treats me like a human being, who pays attention and listens to what I say. This is a nice young man and I sincerely hoped he wouldn't be injured in the crossfire. After he'd inquired politely about my knitting and my bench press numbers, I hissed and fluttered my letter in his face. He looked it over. "No problem, " he said. "I'll just go run this by Dr. Onc."

A few minutes later the oncologist himself came into the exam room and introduced himself to me. What an honor, after six months I finally get to meet my own doctor! We shook hands, then I rolled up my sleeves, flexed my biceps, and sneered menacingly. I drew a line in the sand and started to speak.

"There is no evidence..." I began.

"Eight sessions are not more efficacious than six," he interrupted.

"No," I snarled, baring my teeth. "They're not." I blinked. The ear steam was beginning to blister my eyelids.

"Indeed they're not," he concurred. "I have no idea why you were originally scheduled for eight. You're one sharp cookie to catch that."

Excuse me? One sharp what??

Um. Oh. Yeah. Ok!

The friendly resident smiled and nodded.

So this wasn't exactly going as I'd planned. What the hell was I supposed to do with all that rabid foam that had accumulated in the corners of my mouth? I glanced around surreptitiously for a paper towel dispenser.

"I take it you have a computer," Dr. Onc continued with a sigh of resignation. (You've got to hand it to him, he's one sharp cookie himself to deduce that my letter hadn't been written by hand.) "We like it when our patients are smarter than we are," he lied.

Then he narrowed his eyes shrewdly and tossed his gauntlet into the mud at my feet. Ah, this was more like it. I arched one eyebrow and waited expectantly.

He issued the ultimate challenge: "Are you CD-20 positive?" he demanded.

I suppose he hoped I'd crumble, I'd succumb to confusion, I'd stutter and ask what the hell he was talking about, or maybe start babbling incoherently about my CD collection at home. But I didn't miss a beat. "Yes," I said. "I am." Hey, I didn't spend $150 buying copies of my own medical records for nothing; I know what kind of genetic profile I have. He flashed me a sportsmanlike smile of defeat. "Yes, you are," he conceded. "So we'll schedule a scan after the next treatment, then for two years you'll do maintenance Rituxan and we'll restage and scan you every six months. After two years with no evidence of disease we'll declare you cured. Any questions?"

I let out a whoop and flung my arms around his neck with what may have been excessive zeal. The poor man staggered backwards, muttering "Nnnghhhnhzh!" and fled the scene. Victory was mine.

Do y'all understand what this means? Nine days from now I will be FINISHED with chemotherapy. Nine more days! Finished!

Halle-fucking-lujah. Let the countdown begin.


The author shrieks with unrestrained optimism.








51 Comments:

Anonymous petitpoussin said...

Best countdown ever!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous petitpoussin said...

Best countdown ever!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Pony said...

Folowed by chorus of celebratory shrieks from loving readers.

Well done Liz.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hot fucking DAMN!!!!!!!!!

best news all day.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

W00T!

Alright!

- hex -

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fucking-A woman!!!
Now already down to eight-and-a-half days!

goosebumps very much in evidence here, positively thrilled

Order up some lumber!

Lisa

2:43 PM  
Anonymous leslie said...

Excellent!! That's terrific news!

3:02 PM  
Blogger A.M.S. said...

Hooray! What great news, Liz.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A special congrats as follows. In Denmark (my motherland) they say:

Hurrah!
Hurrah!
Hurrah!
and they actually say: "and a long one"
Hurrahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Phasing out of hell and back into happy times!

another susan

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Mo said...

Yay!! Go Liz! Woooooooooo!!!

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THAT. IS. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4:10 PM  
Blogger Christina Shaver said...

Y.E.S.!!!

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Miss K said...

Rock on!!

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Allegra said...

Spring! Spring in January! that's it. That is how it makes me feel to read this today...let the good times roll for real Liz, go out an celebrate, and I will celebrate with you from here. Here is a toast to life, to your health and to you, to your cure and to our courage.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Emery said...

Ok I just found your site via Moggy Mania at LJ and I love you already. I'd hoot in unrestrained enthusiasm too but my wife is on the phone and it might scare her.

The Ninja Emery

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Allegra said...

oops...it should read to "your" courage, but I guess you already know that.

6:11 PM  
Blogger littledog said...

Wonderful news!
Sala gabotse.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous karen_w said...

...and we'll re-name it Our Lady of the Cured
WOOOOHOOOOO from Michigan. What roses will you plant around your little cottage?

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congradulations, you are my hero-for being a survivor, for always being funny, and having a wicked writing style

8:28 PM  
Blogger BunnyBubblette said...

God, I love you, Liz!!!

9:42 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

YES!! I'm so happy for you. I will raise my cup of green tea to you in the morning, to toast your return to exuberant health.
Rose

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Kimberli said...

simply awesome!!!! on both the chemo sessions as well as showing up the docs.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Some other good news you may get a little chuckle of satisfaction from is that a certain cancer of a Turkish persuasion looks to have been kicked to the curb by a little flag waving spell.

Hooray for you!

10:11 PM  
Anonymous critter said...

Had to de-lurk for this great news. Awesome. Always in my prayers...

12:32 AM  
Blogger UrbanCowgirl said...

Wheee! That's great news!

Well done.

Hilarious post, by the way :-)

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they do it on purpose, schedukle you for eight and after six sessions they tell you you're done, so you will be releaved. If they'd told you there would only be 6 sessions yuo'd start getting getting depressed after 4 sessions waiting for the last 2.

Nah just kidding, great news !

-- Wazzup.

1:42 AM  
Anonymous schmidty said...

Hot damn that's some good news.

2:51 AM  
Blogger E :) said...

YAY! CONGRATULATIONS!

7:30 AM  
Blogger Ya Looblue said...

::CONFETTI::!!!!!!! *dances* xoxo *~Sarah

7:45 AM  
Anonymous gregg m. said...

*grins*.. I remember you from your CR blog days.. glad this next week is your last chemo session! :)

This might be worth checking out:

"...It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe...Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks..."
(see http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10971-cheap-safe-drug-kills-most-cancers.html )

8:11 AM  
Blogger Sock Girl said...

Whoohoo! FABULOUS news!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a terrific relief. You are indeed awesome.

kgf

9:26 AM  
Blogger anne said...

OUTSTANDING!!!

I am just so thrilled to hear this. Go, Liz, GO!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Joan said...

woooooooooooohooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

right on, Liz! i'm so happy for you.

Joan

10:25 AM  
Blogger alphabitch said...

Good work, Madame DuDamned! You did everything right, and good on Dr. O for taking it like a decent human being and professional physician. It's my experience that even the most arrogant Doctor God types tend to take this sort of thing reasonably well when you come at them armed with good science and a real understanding of your situtation, rather than crackpot theories (which do, alas, abound here on the internets and cause no end of confusion and consternation) or anecdotal cures for things you don't even have.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous dottoressa strega said...

You go grrrrrl!

Excellent work, just what I would expect from you. You're not just a smart cookie, you are a tough one to boot.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Alto2 said...

Lymphopo maybe, but DuDamned? No more! A-ma-zing news for you. Big congratulations on being assertive and being an educated patient. Your doctors may think you're a PITA, but you're a hero to the blogosphere. [bowing] We are not worthy.

Two questions: (1) How are you going to celebrate? (2) Will you still have to sell the house?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Alicia said...

I am so happy to hear that news.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is great news Yippee!!!

1:44 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hurrah Doc Onc!

I've got goosebumps for you.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

You will give us a building blog, yes?

*your fans*

1:58 PM  
Blogger therese_flanagan said...

Such excellent news!

2:10 PM  
Blogger therese_flanagan said...

Such excellent news!

2:10 PM  
Anonymous jeanne Sather said...

This is such fabulous news! And I love your story--Advanced Assertive Cancer Patient indeed! Would you prefer a ribbon or a metal to recognize your status?

I am just so happy for you. I came to your blog today because I wanted to get links to a couple of my favorite posts to link to from my blog, and found this news.

So I will be linking to you today.

And also wanted to tell you and your readers that I am starting to review "Cancer Movies" on my blog. Hoping you will give me some suggestions for films to review, or contribute a review yourself.

The reason I decided to do this: How often have I gone to a movie, maybe with one of my sons, looking for a little comedic relief from my own life with cancer, only to find out that the movie is ABOUT CANCER! Do I walk out? Do I suffer through it? Do I send my kid out for popcorn when the character starts throwing up?

It's a dilemma I hope to solve for others with my reviews.

Jeanne
www.assertivepatient.com

2:20 PM  
Anonymous jeanne Sather said...

The First Annual Advanced Assertive Cancer Patient Award:

http://www.assertivepatient.com/2007/01/the_first_annua.html

to you.

Jeanne

2:55 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I cannot believe how small the world is.

I read a garden blog by a gentleman in Iowa, who today links back to a certain writer's garden writings, with a note that she now has a different sort of blog.

And then here I find myself.

North, south, east, west, how amazing is this thing called the internet?

Off to do some reading, now... *cheers*

5:53 PM  
Blogger Cheri said...

Woo Hoo and Yippee Ki Yay!

Meanwhile, I'm still wondering what it would take to keep you in your house, and if that is what you want. I'm still wondering if you can, if you're willing, if you could and would you throw it out into the universe? Who know what might happen.

You are one lovely lady.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous polli said...

Optimism is always best when it's unrestrained, I've found. I'm glad it has come to roost in Deep Inferno!

This news is thrilling, and delivered with your razor sharp wit, a joy to read. Hugs to you and yours tonight!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous nina said...

Oh man, that's fabulous! Felicidades, mujer. That's the best news I've heard in a long time.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

Good for you for being a knowledgeable and assertive patient. And what wonderful news! Less than a week to go now.

3:10 AM  
Blogger saraarts said...

YAY!!!

As much as I have enjoyed your series of identically jaunty poses before the cheval glass, it is really, really nice to see you sporting a different one on this occasion.

(This is the fifth time I have tried to post this in spite of Blogger being a little...never mind. Hopefully this will be the only time it will actually post. I apologize for any duplicates.)

7:54 PM  

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