Next Thursday is my official last day of working for the City of Portland. I’m still pleased about my decision to take some time off from working. I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay away. I try to not get too far ahead of a few weeks. Having an incurable cancer does a doozie on future planning. Thinking about far out leads to me planning my funeral or worse worrying about the pain associated with brain tumor treatment. (Lung cancer is known to spread to the brain.)
With this big change of leaving work comes a BIG change in medical coverage. I’ll transition from Kaiser in April to ODS in May. I have the huge task of carefully switching my oncologist, pharmacist, therapist, and general practitioner in a way that causes no glitches in care or medication. I’m quite nervous. I’m thankful that I’m not working because managing this is going to be a 40-hour a week commitment! My acupuncturist and massage therapist will remain the same- good thing as they will be needed to treat the stress I’ll be under.
I’ve dedicated the most time to finding a new oncologist, specifically a medical oncologist. (This is the doctor that manages chemotherapy treatment.) But before I can move on to the new, I’ve got to wrap things up with the current.
I had a long talk with Dr L about me leaving Kaiser. It was no shock to him since he was signing off on all my disability paperwork; no job=no insurance. Not knowing how I handle things, he asked if I had begun to look into new oncologists. Of course I knew who my new 1st mate was going to be! I figured this out well before I decided to leave my job. I am going to become a patient of Dr Alan Sandler, at OHSU. The reaction from Dr L when he heard the name was priceless and confirmed I made a good choice. He decided that we were going to “wrap things up” to give Dr S a good, clean, starting point.
“Wrapping things up” means moving my usual 12-week scan to 8-weeks. It also means switching from a PET to a CT scan. Apparently with a CT scan you can measure tumor size within 1mm tolerance which is not the case for a PET. Dr L knows that Dr S is going to want details to the nearest 1mm. I’m still sorting out my feelings about my next test, which is less than 2 weeks away. I get test anxiety. I really worry about my cancer status after I am tested and before the results are in. I’m going to have to learn to control this anxiety though. The new doc is going to run tests on me every 8-weeks.
About the new Dr S. He is going to be great. I meet Dr S once before, last October. He is the person I got a second opinion from- he was in support of my daily crizotinib treatment plan. He is the department head of oncology at OHSU and a lung cancer specialist. He is super smart AND has people skills to go along with it. I was pleased last Wednesday when I was watching a webinar on immunotherapy’s in lung cancer, to see that Dr S’s research was referenced. It made me feel cool by association. This doctor is going to be better for me to have on my side when the time comes that my cancer mutates against crizotinib. It’s better to switch when all things are calm than in the middle of a storm.
Someone at work asked me, how I got in with such a big time specialist? Really, it’s not that hard. Cancer doctors have high turnover…unfortunately, even the good ones.
I’m very excited about all the upcoming changes. I am not excited about my next scan April 11th.