Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Another Big Day Tomorrow

You can skip to the main course if you just want to get the update, but I do hope you will have the salad and appetizer first.

1. Salad

First of all, before I get to the meat of recent events, I'd like to complain. Over the last few months, I have gained weight! What's with that? People with cancer are supposed to get skinny. That's the silver lining. Instead, I'm just getting one big fat cloud.

2. Appetizer

Second of all, before I get to the meat of recent events, I was prompted to make a very grumpy comment on Facebook yesterday at 1:30 in the morning. I'm not naturally a grumpy person. Quite the opposite, but I was having middle-of-the-night catastrophic ruminations (Why would I do that?), and I made the mistake of looking at Facebook. One should never do that after bedtime, but certainly never when one is feeling, ahem, a bit out of sorts.

I was in a closed Facebook group about science and health. People had been posting all sorts of nonsensical quackery on it. I had routinely posted skeptical comments, but I hadn't gotten around to taking myself out. Then came the last straw. Some genius posted something about how evil oncologists have been hiding the fact that a spoon of baking soda a day can cure cancer because cancer is caused by acid pH in the body.

This is complete hogwash on its face. Your body is quite good at maintaining a precise pH of 7.41 using the lungs and kidneys. I guarantee you that if you ingest a spoonful of baking soda, the contents of your stomach will become more alkaline, but your blood pH will not budge appreciably. If you somehow succeed in making your blood alkaline to the extent that your body cannot compensate, you will die. On the plus side, your cancer will die too.

So, I told said genius that he was full of dukey (in a more polite way). He responded that, since I am a doctor, I must know the baking soda cure and will use it myself. I was enraged. I don't get angry, generally, but I'm feeling a bit delicate right now. I didn't engage further. I did what I should have done months ago and left the group. I then made a grumpy comment about such things on my regular feed.

Anyway, the point is, unless you are well-informed about real cancer treatment, it is not wise or kind to boldly proclaim poorly researched opinions or to give medical advice to cancer patients. We are passengers in a plummeting plane. We're looking for parachutes. Don't go around telling us about the flying carpet you saw rolled up in the bin over row 7. And it is particularly insulting to me since I am a doctor. You are implying that I am a fool or a conspirator. As a doctor and multiple cancer survivor, I'm really good at finding parachutes (if I may say so myself). If there's one on board this thing, I'll find it.

Meanwhile, knowingly or not, you are steering less-informed patients towards quacks who will remove their money but leave their tumors. Then, these poor passengers may fatally delay the search for a parachute, or. in the absence of one, waste time. That time would be better spent calling home (or watching the in-flight movie).

OK. Enough of the tirade. On to the main course. It's a big one.

3. Entree

K and I (particularly K) have been buzzing like freaked out bees reading scientific articles and calling doctors in Boston and New York. First of all, we succeeded in getting my PET scan* moved from Sept. 12 to Sept. 8 (tomorrow). Then, we got them to move my appointment with renowned oncologist Dr. Famous Squamous** from September 13 to tomorrow afternoon. That way, I will not have to stew all weekend wondering about my prognosis and next steps.

Meanwhile, we have contacted members of my 2005 Dream Team in New York, neurosurgeon Mister Rogers, otolaryngologist The Coach, and reconstructive surgeon The Fixer. Unfortunately, they have broken up. The Coach as moved to Lummox Hill Hospital while the others remain at F'in Famous Cancer Hospital. I have an appointment with The Coach on September 28, and Mister Rogers got me an appointment with a hyperspecialty surgeon at his hospital on September 15.

Tumoriffic fans with good memories will note that Dr. Otto La Ringologo here in Boston did not think my tumor was operable without a high risk of disastrous complications. He may well be right, but K and I are stubborn. We are going to consult a few other luminaries before we give up on that option. It is just possible that surgery could, maybe, if I'm ridiculously lucky, rid me of this unappetizing cruciferous morsel.

4. Dessert

Meanwhile, in solidarity with my plight, Katie the Cat, hearing the word "cauliflower," vomited on the bedroom floor. Ginny the Dog then expressed her solidarity by gobbling it up.

Be well, my friends and family. Another exciting meal of mixed metaphors awaits tomorrow night.

* Despite the name, a PET scan does not involve being scrutinized by domesticated animals. The principle of the thing is that tumors consume sugar faster than nearly anything else in the body. So, I'm not eating anything before the PET scan tomorrow. That way, my whole body will be starved for sugar, especially my tumor. I will then have a delicious breakfast drink of radioactive sugar. My hungry little tumor will greedily suck it all up. I will then be rolled into a machine that will be able to detect the radioactive sugar, showing my doctors the shape of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of my body or my brain. If I'm lucky, this little last bit of radiation on top of the thorough cooking I have already have will finally allow me to tap into the hidden strength that all humans have. Then, don't make me angry.

** Dr. Famous Squamous is one of the leading authorities on head and neck squamous cell carcinomas like mine. It is rumored that they were named after him.

Me, in a grumpy mood.

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