We talked a bit more then she asked if she could take quick look. No time like the present, I say. She did a quick and painless exam and I'd say both she and I knew immediately what was wrong. When your doc hugs you, it's never good. She got me in with a surgeon in town the next day. Same song, 2nd verse only he doesn't know me so well, so no hug; only a pat on the shoulder. Uh, oh. He scheduled a colonoscopy/biopsy for Dec. 4 and a CT scan on Dec. 5.
Let me say right here and now: colonoscopy prep is WAY overblown, no pun intended. I hung out in the house, built a big fire, drank a lot of Gatorade (2 different flavors; I like variety) and watched TV. Pretty nice evening in my book. The next day, I showed up at the appointed time, they put me under and I woke up a little while later. No pain, no discomfort, no embarrassment, no nothing. Get the test if it's time, people.
Dec. 5 was the CT scan in the morning. This is to check for obvious metastasis (spread of the cancer). By that afternoon (Friday), my surgeon called with the pathology report from the biopsy taken during the colonoscopy. No surprise, it turned out to be cancer. You can click the link if you wonder what kind, but it's in the rectum, 4-5 cm in diameter. And I hate it. I've taken to calling it "the little bastard." As in, "I wonder what the little bastard is up to down there?"
He did not have the CT results yet. However, within 5 minutes of hanging up with him, the father of one of my best friends called. He happens to be a radiologist. The consulting practice had not read the scan yet, but he said he'd be happy to stay on while they read it. He hung up and called me immediately. Obvious trouble spots will light up because of the very high blood flow and thank God, nothing lit up. The liver looks good, as do the lymph nodes. While not definitive, it's a very good sign.
I ended up with a referral to a very good surgeon in Wichita, and I took it upon myself to start the 2nd opinion process right away. I had the good (for me but not for them) fortune to know some folks who've dealt with cancer (one with the same one) and they emphasized to me that a newly diagnosed patient gets ONE chance to get it right the first time. Another friend told me what the cancer docs had told their family when at MD Anderson Cancer Center; if MDA were the patients' first resort for treatment instead of their last, they could save up to 85% of those folks.
So, the best of the best are: Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC, MD Anderson in Houston, TX and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN according to US News & World Report's Annual issue of the best docs and hospitals in the US. The first was too daunting to deal with regularly so I filed for appointments at MDA and Mayo. My most fervent wish was that someone would get to me before the Christmas break as I did NOT want to go through the Holidays wondering (as I said above) what the little bastard was up to down there. Both contacted me right away and we started with the data submission, insurance stuff, and all the other things they need before they'll make an appointment for you. Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner! Mayo called me on Dec.8 and had an appointment for me Dec.18-19. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed because my heart was telling me MDA. Don't get me wrong; both are the best of the best. I just had this gut feeling. Well,on 12/15, MDA calls and says they have an appointment for me on 12/17-19. MDA it is!