Friday, December 10, 2010

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center---Day 1

 With much anticipation we arrived Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center for Deborah's first appointment. We arrived at 7am for registration and blood work, then returned later for the appointment with the oncologist. Prior to arriving, Deborah had received an email from the center showing her schedule for the first two days and giving information such as how and where to park, where each test or appointment were located in the building, which elevator to take to get to that part of the building etc. We learned that the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has been a leader in cancer care, research, and education for over 60 years. Its quite a place to say the least!
This is the entrance to MD Anderson Cancer Center Main Clinic Building. That is Deborah standing next to and blending into the pillar next to the gray car, holding her packet of medical information.  

This is what you see when you enter the main building. Not sure why these people are standing on each side of the aquarium, but that is the name of the lobby--The Aquarium.
The check in went very smoothly and we began to see what a busy, bustling place this was as more and more people kept arriving to check in. Then we went down to the lab area for the blood work. The waiting area was filled with people (probably 80 to 100 or more) and we thought we might be waiting a long time. However, Deborah's name was called in about 5 minutes and she went back to find a blood drawing room with about 16 stations, each with a person sitting in a reclining chair getting their blood drawn. No wonder they are able to move so quickly! We felt sad as we looked around the waiting area and saw many people who were obvious cancer patients--some were bald, some were extremely thin, and others pushed poles with apparent bags of medications infusing. We knew everyone there was facing something scary and sad in their life at that moment and we felt grateful for the workers who were so competent and caring.
Deborah's first appointment was with the oncologist, Dr. Ahmed Kaseb. First we met his nurse, Peggy, who was obviously a seasoned oncology nurse with a perfect mix of compassion and humor. She is the type of person who felt like our best friend after about 5 minutes. Then we met Dr. Kaseb who is a gastrointestinal oncologist, specializing in liver cancer. He inspired confidence in us immediately with his tender way and his obvious expertise in this field. He had reviewed Deborah's medical records and explained the need for a CT scan. He said the radiologists here are so specialized in cancer that they can determine from a CT scan if a tumor in her liver is cancerous or a benign hemangioma. There would be no need for further biopsies. We were relieved about that, but scared and anxious about the results of the scan. He made some rough drawings of a liver, showing where her tumors were thought to be and then explained some of the treatment options based on where and what type of tumors were found, explaining that if there were tumors in both lobes of the liver that a transplant may be the best option. This was a very scary thought to Deborah. Her biggest fear about that was having to depend on someone she loved and possibly put them at risk to save her life. To those of us who love her, the alternative was unacceptable.
Any one of us would gladly donate part of our liver to help her, and many in the family had said "when can I be tested to see if I'm a match? I want to be tested."

This turned into a long day because Dr Kaseb moved forward the appointment for the CT scan to directly after her appointment with him, so the results could be obtained earlier. This was a long, drawn out process for Deborah, taking about 4 and a half hours in total, including waiting time. She said the time spent in the back waiting for the contrast to move through her body was a scary, but somehow uplifting time. She was there with several other patients, most of them obviously sick and suffering, and she felt tense at first and scared as she looked around at what might be her future. Then conversations started up and people talked about everyday things and they also talked about some of their experiences with their cancer care. There was a lot of talk of God and how He had helped them deal with the difficult things and how close they felt to Him. She knew she had those same beliefs and was touched that these people were so open and that they were reaching out to her and each other with these comforting words.

All in all, quite a day! We went to bed exhausted and so anxious to find out the results of the CT scan.

No comments:

Post a Comment