Thursday, December 15, 2005

rewording and paraphrasing

This afternoon at 3 pm I had an appointment with my stem cell doctor again. The appointment went quite well. He's quite witty and direct about things. He reviewed the results of the PET-CT scan and went over the upcoming steps with me, my mom and our friend, Clare. I mentioned in my post of 12/7 that his physician assistant had told me about the PET-CT scan's results, but I of course wanted to hear it from my doctor himself. So today's appointment was meant in part to do that. It's wierd how even after hearing the doctor tell me once or twice that the tumor was no more, how I still couldn't accept what he said and found the need to ask him again as if I didn't hear him the first time he told me. I, of course, heard him but his reply didn't sink in immediately. I, then, reworded my questions but received the same answer. Or I'd paraphrase his response with the introduction: "So what you mean is . . . ." or "If I understand you correctly, what you're trying to say is . . . ." By hearing myself repeat his own words in my question, I guess I hoped that this cathartic process would allow me finally to accept the certainty and finality of the doctor's words. He decided finally to show me the actual report of the imaging scan. My stem cell doctor, then, pointed to the line of the document which summed it all up: "No hypermetabolic foci in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis to suggest active lymphoma." So, there it is.

What's up next on my schedule? Well, I must return to the hospital at 9 am on Monday for an infusion of cytoxan, a chemotherapy agent, received via my fabulous catheter. He explained to me that the goal of the cytoxan is two-fold: first, to destroy any renegade cancerous cells that still may be hiding out in my body and second, to activate my bone marrow to produce more stem cells, which will be important in preparation for the stem cell collection. On Monday I'll also be shown how to give myself a Neupogen shot, which I'll need to do daily for about 10 days. Since my blood counts will be lowered by the cytoxan, the Neupogen will be needed to increase the number of white blood cells and thereby, decrease the risk of infection. During chemotherapy treatment, the body's blood counts are lowered and thus, the patient will be at greater risk of becoming anemic or sick.

I have heard from a few patients, by the way, that one shot of Neupogen can cost up to $500.00. Amazing, heh. I don't know how accurate this estimated price is, but it makes me wonder. Fortunately, I have insurance but what about those who do not. One shot . . . $500.00 a pop! Absolutely crazy.

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