Thursday, April 27, 2023

When can I quit cancer?

When can I quit cancer? I ask myself that question several times a day. I'm tired of it. For over 9 years I've been dealing with cancer and cancer related items. To say I'm over it would be an understatement. 

Yesterday, I spent 4 hours at the cancer treatment center. I'd gone for a "check up." They had me come in for lab work and then I'd had to wait around for an hour so the results could be review by the doctor. Then, I had to wait even longer to see the doc. 

When she finally came into the room, I thought, she's going to spend extra time with me since she was over an hour late for my appointment. I don't know where I came up with that idea because it certainly wasn't reality. I don't even think she was in the room with me for 5 minutes! 

After looking at my labs and telling me my sodium was low, she quickly looked back at the ultrasound report from my last visit and asked about the enlarged lymph node in my neck they'd scanned. I told her it was still there. 

She came over and began to mash around on my neck then went back to her desk and said, "We'll get a CT on that area." When she said it, my mind naturally went to a bad place - did she think the cancer had returned? I didn't get a chance to ask her because she was already heading out the door. Apparently, she'd been overbooked that day and had many more patients to see. I left feeling frustrated and angry. 

I snuck this photo in the waiting room

I realize the importance of continual screening and annual oncology appointments are the best way of staying on top of any possible issues, but it sure is getting old.

When the doctor was looking over my labs, I did ask what my tumor marker numbers were. In the past, with my other oncologists, they've always told me my numbers. Dr. S, my new onco, looked at my funny and said, "Oh, we don't normally do those when you've had surgery to remove the cancer." WHAT??? I must have looked at her quizzically because she repeated the statement. That's when I told her, with my family history of all sorts of nasty cancers - lung cancer, esophageal cancer, brain cancer, etc. that I needed to know what my tumor markers were and I expected to have that test run regularly. Thankfully, she heard me because she turned to her scribe and said, "We'll make a note to run the tumor markers at your next visit." Dang. 

I toyed with the idea of going back to my other oncologist. At least he gave me the time of day and seemed to be truly interested in my health. This new onco seems overworked and uninterested. It's not a good way to do business, especially in the medical field. 

There are many things I liked about the cancer treatment center and many things I do not. I like that everything is contained in one location - all the imaging, chemotherapy, radiation, labs, etc. are in the same huge building. I don't like the fact that this hospital is a regional one and since it is one of 5 facilities nationwide, there are a LOT of patients. 

Cancer is a lucrative business, that's for sure, but when the patients suffer because of the business side of it, change needs to happen. 

Maybe patients need to start filling out those after visit questionnaires a little more truthfully. I sure do. If they ask how pleased I was with the service I received, I tell them like it is. When they ask how long I had to wait before seeing the doctor, I'm not sugar coating it and when they ask if I'd recommend others to the facility, I don't hem and haw. I state my reasons, both pro and con. I feel like they asked for it, so they're gonna get it. 

Rant over. In a nutshell, cancer sucks and I want out.


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