Cancer Journal

Aug. 2006

Aug. 14
I've been terribly remiss in making journal entries, and for that, I apologize to you. Will write more soon and even post new photos!

What have you been up to during this unseasonably hot summer? Email me! I love getting notes from you!


Aug. 22
It's been over three weeks since I started my quest to get my port removed. Nurse practitioner Dana at OPIS suggested that I am able to get my port removed whenever I decide to schedule the surgery at NNMC -- the same place where I got my port put in.

After playing phone tag for at least a week, I finally learned that I needed to contact my primary oncologist to approve of the removal of my port.

One of the downsides of going to a military treatment facility (MTF) is that the doctors that originally treated me are no longer there due to a shift in rotation. Simply put, my original oncologist as well as most of the general surgeons who treated me for colon cancer at NNMC have been transferred elsewhere to practice medicine for a year before going back to NNMC.

Last week, I had to make an appointment with an oncologist up at NNMC who is unfamiliar with my case. Dr. Zhu (pronounced Drew) wants to "see" me before he will approve my port to be removed.

So today, I made my two-hour treck up to NNMC to meet with Dr. Zhu. He flat out told me that there was nothing he could do for me because my file was incomplete. I almost lost my temper - I didn't -- but I made it known to him that my two-hour trip to see him and all for naught was unacceptable and that he should have requested I gather certain reports from OPIS to bring with me to this meeting.

Dr. Zhu apologized for having assumed my entire medical file would be at NNMC. He then decided to fax a signed medical request and release to OPIS for the reports he needs in order to make a full assessment to complete my request. He also asked my reasons for wanting to get my port removed.

Well, I really don't like to think about having had cancer and chemo. The port reminds me of this day and night. I also find it a hinderance in my weight training since I am not supposed to lift more than 50 pounds with the port. I just want it out. I don't want it in anymore.

I'm Asian, said Dr. Zhu, and according to Chinese beliefs, you might jinx the cancer to come back if you get the port removed. Of course, I just think it's too soon . . .

My husband's getting out of the Navy soon . . . will you be able to make certain that the procedure will still be covered even after he gets out?

Oh . . . in that case . . . when he is getting out?

September 15th.

How about we do this? Once I get the treatment summary from OPIS and you get a PET scan here so I can compare it to the one you had in June - and everything checks out - then let's go ahead and schedule the removal of your port. Just make sure you make the PET scan appointment, and if they can't book you next week or two at the latest, then call me and I'll try to get the PET appointment moved to either next week or the following week. Also, please try to obtain your treatment summary written by a doctor and not a nurse practitioner from OPIS, even though I am requesting one by fax today.

Yes, sir. Sounds great, Dr. Zhu. Thank you so much for everything today!

So how long have you been bodybuilding?


Aug. 24

Going to OPIS this afternoon to get my port flushed and try to get a hard copy of my treatment summary from Dr. Cross.

I'd like to make a suggestion to any of you who are new [or just-about-finished] chemo patients: keep track of your own schedule -- monthly port flushing, port removal, quarterly blood work, annual PET and CT scans and colonoscopy - because nobody else will do it for you. I feel "lost in the shuffle," having to keep track of all the doctors, departments and procedures, and it isn't a very good feeling. If only I could have my own medical secretary to schedule all of these appointments for me!


Aug. 31
My CT scan is scheduled for 2:30pm today which means I have to leave home at 9am to get to NNMC up in Bethesda. I have to get my renal lab work three hours prior to my CT scan and I also have to start drinking the nasty liquids around that time as well. I fasted since 11pm last night and I'm hungry!