Monday, September 20, 2010

New Place

Today I went to the new Cancer Care treatment center in Kettering for my monthly Faslodex injection. This facility is occupied by the Dayton Physician's Oncology and Hematology Office, and possibly others. It's my oncologist's new location.

It's far larger than the facility they were in previously. Larger waiting room, larger treatment rooms and more private examination rooms. I arrived at just before 9 am and was amazed at the number of people who were there. It made me think back to all of the treatment rooms I've been in over the last 16+ years. In the 11 years that I was in New Haven, the Hospital of St. Raphael's McGivney Cancer center grew by leaps and bounds too.

Cancer treatment has changed over the years. Instead of being there for long treatments, many patients are treated on an outpatient basis. Like me, some people come only for blood tests and quick injections. The needs have changed.

Of course, when you see large rooms full of people in a cancer center, it can be alarming. However, you have to remember that it doesn't necessarily mean that more people are getting cancer (although I personally think that they are), it does mean that people are living longer with cancer. It is becoming a chronic illness that one can live with.

I was also reminded of how nice and welcoming the people at this facility is versus where I used to go. Same doctor, but the atmosphere and general attitude toward patients, or at least toward this one patient, is entirely different. Once again, I urge you, if you're not happy with something about your treatment, look around....see what you can change. A different office made the whole difference to me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Finding New Ways In

Hmm... So in the last week, I have heard of two new possibilities for treatment. It will be interesting to see if I qualify for either one of them....that is to say IF my injections are not working. One of them fools the immune system into working harder on destroying the cancer cells by splicing cancer cells into a virus (interestingly an equine encephalitis hopefully that doesn't make one into a horses posterior). I guess part of the problem is that the body's defense mechanisms don't recognize that cancer cells are foreign and should be destroyed.

The other method, or so I am told....I didn't read about this one, is using the individual's cancer cells and studying them applying various treatments to find the best one....This sounds extremely expensive as it is an individualized treatment.

Individualized treatments have long been recognized as a method which will provide the best outcomes for the cancer patient, but it is one which takes longer to identify and it is less isn't a mass produced treatment (like the current drugs) but specifically designed for each person. We all know that treatments are money driven, so this one will probably not be available for most of us.

Interesting things...Hopefully this or one of the other many treatments developed in the last 5 years will work for me. In the mean time, I get to have another Faslodex treatment on Monday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

To Be or not to Be?

Sometimes the outpouring from people can be overwhelming. Sometimes what they say can be hard to take.

For instance, one of my husband's relatives called this summer and asked if they could come down and visit in August. I took a deep breath. This summer is a very busy one for me, not just because of the cancer, but because my daughter a high school senior this year and we had to do the college visits, her senior pictures (which she wanted some in my garden), work around taking our yearly trip to Connecticut, and visiting my parents who are ailing.

I was somewhat taken aback as we've lived in Ohio now for 5 years. Only one family member from my husband's side has ever visited. Only a few friends have as this is considered a "fly over state"--why would you ever want to go there? When we visited them in Connecticut, I started to speak to them about their plans on coming down.

"Oh, well, we only wanted to visit you to see you while you were still you. Since you're here, we can wait to come down for Meg's graduation." Translation: we wanted to see you before you died.

Thanks a lot. I was really taken aback. It was an unthinking way of putting it. You might think that, but please don't say that to my face.

On the one hand, I am not sure how I think about it when people say "You're going to make it, I just know you are." Part of me wants to say "how do you know?" On the other hand, wanting to "see me while I am still me" is a little too dark for me.

So...I guess I want it two ways....I want people to recognize that there is a possibility that I won't survive this, but on the other hand, I want them to think positive thoughts for me.

I don't have the faintest clue how this is going to turn out. I do know though that I am not going to sit around. I'm trying to make some good decisions and take care of somethings now in the event that I don't make it....and I have to admit that some of those things will make life much easier even if I do make it.

And yes, I did buy a new quilt pattern and some fabric the other day. I'm not planning to make an exit anytime soon, and I am going to live my life as I have it with as much grace and panache as I can.