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For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 4

February/March 07

Well the MRI really didn't show anything, but it was evident that surgery was necessary. After the approach Dr Schmidt wanted to take I find it time to seek a second opinion. Frankly, taking 1/3 of my tongue scares me! I did a lot of research and found the two best cancer hospitals in the country were Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York and MD Anderson in Houston. Meanwhile a surgery date was set up at UCSF so I could get on the roster since Dr. Schmidt books two to three months in advance.

I found that a Dr. Gary Clayman was one of the leading surgeons in the country and specializes in Head and Neck cancers. He was located at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. This was the man I wanted to see! While I made arrangements to get to Houston for a consultation, I found an article about Warren Buffett’s wife having cancer. As it turns out she used the very same team of doctors led by Dr. Schmidt, at UCSF that I was using.

I thought I would write a letter to Mr. Buffett, asking how he came to choose Dr. Schmidt at UCSF. After all, being one of the richest men in the world his wife could have gone anywhere to seek the best treatment money could buy. I never really thought I’d get a response, but within three days of sending my letter his secretary, Debbie called to tell me Mr. Buffett had dictated a response and that the whole office was pulling for me. I was floored. She was so kind, I almost cried. To me nothing is more important in life than giving one’s time. Mr. Buffett, being such a busy man, will never know how much I appreciate the time he took to respond. His letter, which arrived within days of speaking with Debbie, was kind, heartfelt, and direct. Bottom line, “You could not be in better hands.”

Mr. Warren Buffett –THANK YOU!

I arrived in Houston and was a bit overwhelmed. The Med Center is huge! I was given a week long schedule. I had meetings with Dr. Clayman, the surgeon, Dr. Kim, the chemotherapist, and Dr. Morrison, the radiologist. This was to be my team of doctors if I chose to be treated here. But none could agree on treatment. The surgeon said, "Radiation." The radiologist said, "Surgery." The chemotherapist said, "You don’t want chemo." OK, now what?

I had several tests and CT Scans and blood work, all looking to see where else the cancer might be. Nothing seemed to be found anywhere else in my body. The one thing I’ve learned here is: being sick is exhausting and all these appointments and procedures wear you out. Oddly the testing at UCSF was not this extensive.

Even though the doctors had not agreed at this point, what was agreed upon was that I had an abnormal tonsil and Dr. Clayman wanted to biopsy it. I agree and tell him to take them both, but he only wants one. The concern here was that there might be two different types of cancer growing in the oral cavity, in which case surgery of the tongue would not be the best answer. Radiation would be a better option. This just gets more complex everyday!

Arrangements are made for me to come back to perform the tonsil biopsy. I thought it best to allow Dr. Clayman to operate since UCSF didn’t even notice it and their testing at MD Anderson was more extensive. I still feel that Dr. Schmidt should operate on my tongue when the time comes. The longer I wait, the more the cancer grows. Ever since the initial tongue biopsy the cancer has tripled in size. It’s like it became enraged after being cut into and was fighting back!

There’s just so much to think about. I'm tired, overwhelmed, and in pain. Vicodin to the rescue! I’ve been on that crap since January, 24/7 and I find it so hard to function, but the nice thing about the drug is….. I DON’T CARE!



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Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi