Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Are you waiting for me to die, or what?"

I saw my new plastic surgeon, Dr. Solomon.   By the time I did, I was sort of beyond caring about the appearance side of things.  It's time to get the cancer out.  I'd been told by two people who knew him that he was arrogant, and maybe he is, but my first impression was that he wasn't arrogant but extremely smart.  Anyway, arrogance isn't necessarily a turn-off in my book, as long as it's backed up by something.

Just so you are clear:  in this case, that would be brains AND surgical skills.

He wasn't the kind to sugarcoat things - he flat out told me I probably wouldn't get a result I was very happy with.  He can't make anything like what I have now. 

I can't look for doctors anymore so I am keeping him, at least in the beginning.  I can change later if I'm unhappy.  So, their scheduler, who had an opening on the 20th,  was going to coordinate with Dr. Raja's office, who had already scheduled me for the 19th, and get back to me the next day.

On cue, the next day my phone rang.  It was Dr. Raja's office calling, and the woman happily told me my surgery date.

November 13.

I was - briefly - speechless.

I recovered.

"November 13th?   Are you waiting for me to die, or what?"

She nervously laughed. No, no, of course not.

I continued.  "That date is completely unacceptable.  I can't wait that long.  That's three months after I was diagnosed, and two weeks ago the doctor told me that it was extremely aggressive and needed to be done immediately."

She said she knew.

I suggested she find another date.

I was so mad that I got in my car and went to Taco Bell.   I'm going to eat pure crap and make that cancer grow so big that in November, when they do take it out, they'll be sorry they waited! That'll show 'em.

As I munched on my burrito, my phone rang.  They had a counter offer: October 30th.

Still too long in my mind.  Every woman on the breast cancer forums who was diagnosed the same time as me have had surgery, and many have had their first chemo already.  Women who were diagnosed a month after me have had their surgeries.  Most of these women have a far less aggressive form of the disease than I do.  At the tumor board meeting, the doctors unanimously agreed upon that they had to act fast with me.

I don't think three months is really fast, do you?

I told her that it was still not acceptable.  I would take that appointment tentatively but I wanted her to find something else.

We ended the call.  And, I didn't calm down.

I started thinking I was going to have to get another opinion and start all over.  Then I thought I should at least remind the doctor what he told me two weeks previously,  and find out what, exactly, the delay was, and why I wasn't a priority.

So, an hour I called back, and got their exchange.  I asked for Dr. Raja to call me himself.

Well, he never did call me back, but this morning I got a phone call.

My surgery is on October 21, at 2:30.

I don't believe those doctors would have rearranged schedules if it wasn't important - they just had to be reminded.  Like everybody says - you are your own best advocate.  They see too many people to remember each one. 

What I really can't believe is that I had to insist somebody make time to amputate one of my body parts. My favorite body part, at that.

Is there a word for having to do that?


  1. Good for you for fighting! I think they all forget it isn't really about their convenience.

    So next Wednesday! All right - get that cancer!

  2. Hi Ann - it certainly feels like a long time! I was diagnosed on 08/12 and left that appointment with a date to have a mastectomy on 09/07. As it was the Oncologist said we could try chemo first and then lump so I started that on 09/04. And that all felt like a logn process.

    Glad to hear you have managed to bring the date forward - makes you worry about those who are as assertive or confident :(

    BW - Paula xox

  3. Hi Paula, I really wanted to try chemo first to see if we could do lumpectomy but with multifocal cancer, I guess it's not an option.

    Yeah, you do kind of worry about people who don't stand up for themselves.

    Thanks Vicki!


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