Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TDP - A Glimmer, Just a Glimmer . . .

One week ago, we met with the trial oncologist, Dr. Urba. Actually, we spent quite a bit of time with her staff - answering questions, going over previous tests, etc. The staff then briefs the doctor, who then eventually met with us. It's a somewhat different system than we are used to, but allows the doctor to efficiently use her time to see patients and answer their questions in quick order, while at the same time having prior feedback from her staff about the patient's mental status and attitude.

It was quickly determined that Tom needed a PET scan. We were turned down two weeks before for a PET scan with the local cancer center because we didn't have insurance and we didn't have $7,000 to pay-in-advance for the scan. They told us that when we had the money, Tom could be scheduled for the scan.

The University of Michigan Hospital sees it differently. They scheduled Tom for the first PET scan available, feeling that his care and treatment came before dollars. We are so grateful for that wonderful, uplifting attitude. Tom could not be treated without the PET scan, because it's that scan which tells the doctors exactly how far his cancer has gone, and therefore allows them to identify the specific treatments he'll need.

So we stayed over in Ann Arbor for an extra night so he could have his PET scan the next day. Driving 5 hours roundtrip from the hospital and then back again didn't make any sense. That evening, knowing that we were finally getting started in this road to recovery, he was feeling pretty good - so we spent the evening at the biggest, baddest testosterone retail store in the world - Cabela's.

All you men probably know about Cabela's - but for my female friends, Cabela's is a world reknowned giant hunting and fishing store. As you wander through it, you'll see live trout in indoor man-made streams, more live fish in gigantic aquariums fifty feet long and ten feet tall, and hundreds of wild animal taxidermy mounts. That's all scattered amongst the hunting, fishing, gun, watercraft, furniture, clothing and snack departments. After an hour plus of strolling down the man-aisles, we were ready for a quick snack and back to the hotel.

Tom had his PET scan on Wednesday, and we were home that evening to await the news. By Thursday we were told that his scans were being reviewed by a board of oncologists and radiologist, who would discuss and decide what the best action was to be. Not just one doctor makes this decision, and it's comforting to know that a team of the best U-M oncology specialists were working for Tom.

U-M Hospital is rated by US News & World Report as #9 in the best esophageal cancer hospitals in the United States, and the care and compassion we've experienced there is the best. Speed is U-M's middle name - they scheduled his PET scan within 15 minutes after his meeting with Dr. Urba, and today they called to give us the results and request that he have one more test.

He'll need an MRI to answer some questions for his doctors that came about because of the PET scan. Within 30 minutes of today's phone call, they'd scheduled him on the "urgent" list, so within the next two days Tom will be back in Ann Arbor having an MRI. After waiting for nearly five months for Tom's illness to be identified and for treatment to begin, U-M managed to get it rolling in ten days. They are super-heroes to us.

So, we're on-call, waiting for the MRI call. And then we'll know the game plan.

It's a much-welcomed glimmer of hope . . .

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