You know how the old saying goes, “Opinions are like ass holes, everyone has one!” It’s easy to joke, but not so easy when you actually have to bet your life on one.
There’s the first opinion – “You have endometrial cancer and this is how I want to treat it.” Then there’s the second opinion – “I have the utmost respect for my colleague, but disagree with his treatment plan.” Whaaaat? The funny thing is, I actually got the second opinion first. Here’s how it went down: before they knew about the tumor in my abdomen, I was slated to be treated with radiation and I wanted a second opinion. Between the appointment discussing radiation and the second opinion appointment, I had a scan which showed the growth in my abdomen. So, the “first” opinion was from a doctor I went to for a “second” opinion.
The First Second Opinion: The second opinion oncologist explained that I had an “aggressive tumor” and the standard of care is to treat with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and hormones. He believed the other doc would agree and I walked away with a plan.
The Second First Opinion:
I assumed the discussion would be similar with the second oncologist. I was wrong…Instead, the doctor came bounding into the exam room, never met him before, and declared “No chemo!” Music to my ears, right? No chemo…what cancer patient wouldn’t want to hear those words! They were followed by “No radiation!.” What’s happening here? Are you about to send me to Disney World? “We’re going to do pills,” he told me. His strategy was to shrink the tumor with an endocrine therapy – the goal being to treat with the least amount of side effects. The concern was that I have had so much chemo in the past, along with the stem cell transplant, that my body may not withstand the treatment.
Conundrum…easy way or hard way? Aggressive way or safe way? Proven record way or novel therapy way? In the end, I chose the endocrine therapy. I had few side effects and I still had my curly mop of hair.
But, I never really bought into it. There was something about taking this non-traditional route that didn’t sit right with me. I know chemo works and in my heart I knew I had to change course. However, the course was changed for me after a scan showed the hormones did not do their intended job – the tumor grew.
I no longer have a conundrum. The next steps are plotted out – radiation and chemo are no longer options; they are mandatory treatment.
To be continued…