Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Scheduled doc of the year, wooohooo

I'm back from my last scheduled doctor's appointment of the year which is so good to have behind me. I don't want to tempt fate by saying it's the last doctor's appointment of the year because there is always the slim chance of an unexpected truck with my name on it. However, I'm glad that barring the unexpected I have gone to my last doctor's appointment of 2007. I saw the medical oncologist who follows me for melanoma and it went well. He thinks I'm doing well enough to extend when I see him. I still see the surgical oncologist too but hopefully I'm close to where those appointments will be extended too.
He thinks I should follow up with the oral surgeon that I have a January appointment with for the tongue lesion biopsy and also for the abscessed tooth. However, he went ahead and gave me a prescription to put on my tongue in the meantime because he thinks I may have thrush . Apparently I have more than one lesion now. That would be great if it cleared up with the medicine and I don't need a biopsy. From the cancer angle, I am doing well. No recurrences so far, and since I'm coming up on three years, that is great. He also said that at some point I should stop getting scans. He's going to schedule the full body PET/CT for March because I mentioned that my surgical oncologist asked if I'd do it at the medical ONCs hospital or at UNC where I see the surgical ONC. He mentioned that one problem with asymptomatic scans is that things can show up that aren't cancer and alarm me unnecessarily. I told him I knew that having been through a possible recurrence that went away on repeat scans but that I wanted the three year one, and maybe after that I'd be ready to stop. I also need to see what the surgical ONC thinks on that score since his follow up protocol may require the scans up to 5 years. I never asked the surgical ONC about when I would stop scans.
He also discussed how I've done everything that I can do and I will need to try and put it behind me because if heaven forbid I recur, knowing a few months earlier due to a scan probably won't make that big of a difference. He said he knew if I did have a recurrence that I was strong and would fight it and that there were new treatments that would probably be available. He mentioned CTLA-4 , and I was glad of that since the work there is among treatments I would consider. It ended on the note that making it this far I probably wouldn't recur and that what I am dealing with is the aftermath. Sounds good to me. I am ready for a nice long break from doctor's appointments. About 10 years would suit me at this point. Every time I say that, I am aware that I should qualify it with the caveat that I know how lucky I am to have health insurance and the level of care that I get.


jmb said...

Isn't it funny how we all say, if I get hit by a truck? I think it's like whistling in the dark! If we say it, it won't happen.
Have a great Christmas Carver with your family and friends and my 2008 be a year of good health with many more to follow.

Carver said...

Hi JMB, It is funny about the proverbial truck. I figure since I was hit by a car in 3rd grade by someone rushing his injured child to the hospital, I've probably paid my dues on that front, ha.

I hope that you and yours have a great Christmas and a very happy, healthy new year. As ever, Carver

King (Kathie) said...


Wow! Great visit and interesting points about stopping scans.

And I've always heard about getting hit by the proverbial bus! LOL!

Wishing you the very best in 2008!

Stay Strong
King (Kathie)
Stage IV 7/05 Liver mets

Theresa said...

Well stay away from trucks the next two weeks! (and just to be safe stay away from SUV's too)

Yes it is nice to have a great insurance plan, even though teachers don't get paid tons of money we do get good benefits. My sister-in-law is still paying bill for her two years of breast cancer treatments.

Hope the medicine does it trick!

Carver said...

Thanks Kathie,

You are always so sensible about seeing all points of view which I find remarkable given your history. I know that in your case you recurred so much sooner than I would have, if heaven forbid, I do. Still, you are someone who having an asymptomatic scan made a big difference to since it meant you could have surgery and remain clear of it, hopefully forever. I think your history is good both to show that some people do advance to stage IV and go on to live active lives but also to show in individual cases these asymptomatic scans make a difference, even if not statistically.

I may decide that after my 3 year scan if I'm clear and my UNC ONC agrees with my stopping scans that it will be time but I don't regret getting the ones I've gotten. I'm glad I haven't been followed somewhere that doesn't do any asymptomatic scans although I know some are comfortable with the. Take care, Carver

Hi Theresa,

I'm sorry that your sister in law has had such big bills to deal with. My big issue would be if I couldn't work or lost my current job. If I don't have continual coverage, I'd be sunk and cobra would probably be out of site expensive but I'll cross that bridge if I ever come to it. Take care, Carver

Sue Pelletier said...

I just found your blog and am so glad I did! Will spend some time reading this weekend.

Funny this should come up about scans--I'm newly diagnosed and just starting down this rotten path, and my doc has a no-scan policy from the beginning. I'm not sure I can live with this (emotionally, anyway). Interesting to read your perspective from down the road a bit.

My best to you and yours for a wonderful, healthy Christmas and 2008!

Carver said...

Hi Sue,

Thanks so much for visiting and let me know if you have questions, or if I can help you in some way. All things considered, I'm not sure that I could have lived with no scans. The problem I had was during my first year as a melanoma patient, I had an early scan due to symptoms. That scan was worrisome for a recurrence. I ended up with scans every three months to follow that. For me the issue at first was that I had too many symptoms and perhaps that was part of my bodies autoimmune response.

The scanning issue is one of debate amongst doctors which makes it hard for the patients to know what to do. I do think it's reasonable to find a doctor who is in line with what you're comfortable with since they are all doing it a little differently. I wish you the very best and will visit your blog. I also hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and new year, Carver