Patrick and I visited the clinic soon after the PET scan to get the oncologist's take on it. I was hoping to hear more happy words from her like, "You're done with this place, go home and live your life." But no, that wasn't what I heard.
My doctor told me that she wanted
me to consult with a radiation oncologist. I couldn't believe my
ears--she wanted me to pursue further treatment? Was chemotherapy not
enough? When would it end? I left disheartened, clutching a scrap of
paper with yet another doctor's contact information scrawled across it.
From the first radiation oncologist, I learned that there were no studies done in cases like mine. His opinion was that I would receive an anti-cancer benefit of maybe 15%, if chemo was given concurrently with radiation targeted specifically at the top of the bladder, where the original tumor had infiltrated.
A second opinion at a different hospital suggested the same potential benefit, but with a much more horrific list of side-effects owing to this new doc's more aggressive approach. She would target not only the suture site, but the entire "surgical bed". Side effects included night sweats and hot flashes due to the ovaries' destruction, chronic diarrhea, and a constant feeling that a urinary tract infection was pending. Top all of that off with fatigue and nausea from the chemo this doctor would also recommend.
Two words: No Way.
I called my oncologist to ask about the chemo-part of the equation. Throughout the five weeks of radiation, I would receive fluorouracil via the harpoon + pump for six out of seven days. I thought I mis-heard her--six out of seven?! Who could do that? I couldn't fathom lugging around that chattering thing, attached by a harpoon in my chest for six days every week! Sure, the drug would be at a lower dose than I had taken previously, but the equipment itself, and the skin-blistering Tegaderm dressing that I'd have to use six out of seven days was the bigger concern at that moment. I asked about taking chemo pills (xeloda) instead, but she maintained her stance that the pump would be a more effective delivery method.
In a this-can't-be-happening sort of stupor, I hung up the phone. Again, all I could think was: No Way!