Doctor Switch-Up

I had been patiently waiting for my appointment with the oncologist, when suddenly, the day before my Friday appointment, City of Hope called me to let know they discovered an error. My cancer was outside the specialty of the doctor that I was being paired with!

Alarm and shock! I needed treatment fast, and this was yet another delay. It turns out that the best doctor for my type of cancer is based out of Duarte, 15 minutes north of Pasadena. That development threw all sorts of wrenches into the vision of treatment that I had.

It took a while to convince the scheduling nurse that I needed to get an emergency appointment. The cancers that they are used to grow slowly enough that a month one way or the other doesn’t make much difference. I however, might not have that time.. I now had a new appointment for Monday. Another 4 day wait…

I was delighted, however to learn that I was meeting with the head of the department for my particular type of cancer…progress.


Finding The Right Doctor

So, as the reality of having to go through cancer treatments again sank in, Cyndy and I had the task of finding the best doctor for this type of cancer.

After asking friends and family, we consulted the great and powerful google. After several days of getting feedback and evaluating, City of Hope stood out. Cancer specific, with some of the latest treatments in the world. It didn’t hurt that they have an infusion center in Newport Beach, not too far from where I live with beautiful ocean views. It was a cherry on top of an already stellar record. However, I eventually learned that I wouldn’t be able to take any treatments there because of bureaucracy.

After having called in several times, checking doctor availability and scheduling the soonest appointment, I would be waiting about two and half weeks. The rest of the appointment times were over a month and a half away. I was really quite surprised, but I guess a lot of people have cancer nowadays…

I was scheduled with a young doctor who managed to build quite a reputation for his innovation and skill. I was quite excited and optimistic about the whole prospect.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…


Finding a Doctor

Finding a doctor to look at my neck ended up being more complex that we thought it would be. After some googling, Cyndy and I decided that an ENT would be the fastest route to answers. As it happens though, a lot of ENTs don’t consider the collar bone to be part of their purview.

After finally finding an ENT with a bigger field of view, we scheduled a quick visit. He declared that I probably had thyroid cancer and it was no big deal, a quick surgery and a lifetime of hormone pills would fix me right up. However, we needed to do a biopsy to confirm.

Three days later I got a biopsy. We had preliminary findings that had to be sent out to confirm. After taking one look at the slides, the doctor said this looks a lot like a germ cell tumor…my heart sank, because that meant my testicular cancer had come back, but now it was in my neck.

The cancer I thought I beat had come back, and it was as aggressive as ever. The only advice that the two doctors could give me was to find a good oncologist, and stay positive.

So the search began…


The Strange Lump

This last Sunday, the family wanted to take a hike before my work opened back up, getting us back to our regular routines.

I chose Blackstar Canyon, which seemed to be a fairly easy hike until the end, where it gets rocky. As is my way, I misjudged both my fitness and the water requirements. It didn’t help that it was quite hot on this particular Sunday. So after a half mile, I had a backpack and a 40lbs. baby on my shoulders. It might be the final distance, (which ended up being around 5 or 6 miles of total hiking,) or the de-hydration, or the pressure on my shoulders that finally caused the lump to pop out enough for me to feel it. But the next day, while riding in the car and rubbing my sore neck, I felt a little lump tucked down behind my collar bone.

At first Cyndy and I didn’t think too much about it, but after googling and little, we decided that it needed to be monitored, as it could indicate some sort of infection.

To our surprise it actually got bigger over the next week! Which started us quickly consulting friends and family with some more medical backgrounds. The short story was a resounding, “GET THAT CHECKED IMMEDIATELY!”

We began looking for a doctor that would take a look at my lump, which turned out to be harder than we thought it would be…