As I look around, there is a sofa, bed, kitchen, TV and other assorted furniture. You’d think I was in a hotel room and you’d be right. In addition to it being a hotel room, it is also a tiny slice of Limboland. We just left our meeting with renowned genitourinary surgeon, Dr. Christopher Wood at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He has given us sage advice, but not necessarily the advice I wanted to hear.
From studying my file, Dr. Wood told us about “another patient” (maybe a little tongue-in-cheek) of his who had “shopped around and found doctors who performed surgeries and treatments,” without anyone being in charge of a cohesive treatment plan. In addition to the stellar medical oncological treatment we’ve received at home from Dr. Andy Pippas, I guess Dr. Wood interpreted our attempts at getting opinions from the best cancer minds (including his) as a way to find doctors who would be willing to provide the surgery or treatment that we felt WE needed to have done.
I think Dr. Pippas would concur that I, after consulting with Jill, have made all the educated key decisions about every treatment or procedure we’ve had. Dr. Pippas wanted me to go on a TKI (tyrosine kinase inhibitor) systemic therapy over two years ago, but I refused to do it. Except for that one decision, we’ve pretty much been in sync regarding the direction of my care.
So here I sit in Limboland again. Dr. Christopher Wood, famous surgeon, doesn’t want to operate on me. “Yes, the money says that tumor on your adrenal gland is cancer. But, wouldn’t we look pretty stupid to put you through a big operation and it turned out not to be,” he said. “It needs to be biopsied here in our interventional radiology department first. If it is cancer, and we operate, it is highly likely that you’ll have a recurrence somewhere else. Because of that likelihood, my preference would be for you to be on a systemic drug for six months, or until you can’t stand it any more, and if it is cancer, THEN we’ll do the surgery to take the adrenal gland out. The systemic drug would likely shrink the adrenal tumor and would also deal with other problem areas that might exist outside the bounds of what we can now see.”
It looks like all my attempts to avoid a nasty oral cancer therapy might have come to an end. Dr. Wood’s nurse, Jan, is doing everything possible to have a biopsy scheduled early next week. We’ll know the outcome of that effort tomorrow. If we can do it early in the week, then we will stay out here and get that done. It is a two-day process. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll be able to leave to come back the day after the biopsy. If we find out the biopsy can’t be scheduled in a reasonable amount of time, we’ll have to come on back home and make another trip out here fairly soon.
I’m more than a little irritated that we were here until 10 p.m. last night to get a CT scan without contrast that was, according to Dr. Wood, “useless for determining whether or not there is anything going on with your right kidney.” That we stressed so firmly that we didn’t want to leave Houston without knowing exactly what is going on with Strainer and to be scheduled for a diagnostic test that wouldn’t provide that information really chaps my ass. I will be asking some pointed questions about that decision on the next conversation with Dr. Pagliaro.
There is good news, though. All the other diagnostic tests we had performed here yesterday are all in the clear. No issues with mets in brain, lungs or bones, the three places kidney cancer likes to go.
We have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Pagliaro on Monday at 1 p.m. If we’re able to get the biopsy scheduled early in the week, we’ll stay on out here and make that appointment. If the biopsy can’t be scheduled to our satisfaction, we’ll forego the appointment with Dr. Pagliaro and meet with him when we return for the biopsy.
In the meantime, Jill and I will do what we do best — enjoy each other’s company. We’re going to laugh, mock people, watch movies, look for great hidden restaurant gems, mock people and I will be sharpening my tongue for my next visit with Dr. Lance Pagliaro.