Thursday, June 3, 2010

News From Philly

After a rather entertaining hold up at the airport which resulted in my trading a half full 4 oz bottle of baby oil for a personalized TSA report, I arrived in Philly. The Center, CTCA, met me with a limo, and a chauffeur holding a sign with my name. (I always wanted to get picked up that way.) He took me to CTCA and I started my day there with lunch before my appointments, which started at 1:00.

I was directed to the dining room where I could choose, buffet style, anything I wanted for free. I have been on cruises with worse food than CTCA. The food is amazing!! Plus everything is nutritionally enhanced and geared towards helping the issues that cancer patients face. I had an organic, sugar free lemonade, some gilled tofu and vegetables thing, olives and peppers from small olive bar, some other yummy grilled vegetable thing, potatoes in like a casserole, bowtie pasta with feta, and a chocolate-cream cheese cupcake.

After lunch I started appointments. I met with a nutritionist and a naturalist. Both asked about what side effects I suffer and such, so that they could offer me suggestions on foods and supplements to help. I met with nurse who verified my cancer history and asked about more side effects. Apparently some things I’ve been experiencing are from chemo and I had no clue. They address everything here, on a very personal level, and try to make everything better, not just treat your cancer.

Next I met with my doctor, Dr. Klimant (Kle-MONT) who is from Germany. He told me a few things different from my oncologist back home (Dr. Odogwu). First thing, which I was glad to hear, is that one of my current chemos, Oxolyplatin, or something like that, which is the one I hate the most because it gives me the problems with cold, would only be given to me for a total of 12 treatments (tomorrow’s is #10) and then never again because it’s found to be ineffective after that. This is very encouraging as it would make remaining on chemo far less uncomfortable. I am not sure if Dr. Odogwu had that same plan because she is vague and limited in what she tells me, and mentioned just staying on this regiment until it stopped working. Mostly what I hear from her is “I don’t know” and “we will see.”

I also asked Dr. Klimant about my expected time left. Although they are very hesitant here at CTCA to put a time on anyone (they are quite against that) I asked, statistically speaking, what he’d expect and he said that he would guess that I’m likely to have between 1 and 2 years. He said I am not a candidate for directed radiation since my tumors are so splattered, but may potentially be, down the road, for some other type of chemo or something that unfortunately I’ve forgotten all of the details about except that it has something to do with genetic testing they are doing. I was rather bombarded with information. He also said that the other 3 of my 4 current chemos, I would stay on for a while. Lastly, we talked about my desire to spend a month or so in Europe, and he said he could definitely work that in. Overall he is much more optimistic and informative than Dr. Odogwu.

While two years may not seem overly optimistic, it’s twice as long as one year. It means seeing James turn 3, and hearing him call me Gramommy. It means several more visits to my Dad and Diane in Maine, and several more visits to Don, Neil and Al in Florida. An extra birthday and an extra Christmas. More stamps in my passport. Two is definitely better than one.

Today I had my chemo. The infusion room here is so much better than home. The center at home is dreary and sad. Here it’s bright and happy with TVs for everyone and snacks all around. The patients even talk to each other and laugh. At home they just sleep. Here they bring you a menu to order the amazing food from the dining room, and bring it t you. At home you can have a half of sandwich with a slice of turkey on it, or cheese and crackers, both of which are cold so you better get them before the Oxolyplatin. Here they give you many more pre-meds to avoid nausea and neuropathy, and they tell you everything you get and what it’s for. At home I get a mystery mix with some steroid for nausea, and I think that's it but I am not sure. And here everyone comes to you for tests, information, or just to check on you. At home they sent you here and there to get this test, pick up those results, bring them to this doctor, etc. Everything is easy and pleasant here.

I have the option to move my treatment here, and am considering it, but there are a few things I need to think about. First, travelling every two weeks could get old. Although I do like travelling and it seems as though there is some fun stuff to see in Philly. And while CTCA pays for flights and feeds me delicious foods, the hotel is still $45 a night on return trips and 8 nights a month of that is not really feasible. You’d think that since they cover everything else, they would cover that too. I am meeting with a financial counselor tomorrow so maybe they will have an alternative.

Oh, the center also offers free massage and reiki. I tried to get a massage scheduled but they were full and were going to call me if they can get me in Thursday or Friday. And the dining room will make fresh juices with whatever you want, smoothies, and soy shakes! They keep warm drinks on hand for those of us on Oxolyplatin. They give you ginger candies to take for nausea, and they work so well I was able to do the Pat’s vs. Geno’s challenge tonight….steak and cheese on a chemo night!! (Blog on that to follow soon.)

Tomorrow/today (Thursday) I have a free day and plan to look around and play in Philly. Or may just stay in this bed for half the day, as it’s super nice and I’ve been up all night. It’s a sleep number bed and I’ve found it to be even more comfortable tonight than last night. I have more blogs to write so check back.

1 comment:

  1. GOD BLESS CTCA and beautiful Victoria



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