The first doctor we met with was the radiologist on Monday (Dr. Rad). He was very nice and explained things quite well. Best of all, he talked TO Mom and listened to what she had to say. We've had several doctors in the past that act like she's not even in the room when discussing various things. Anyway, we all like him - all being Mom, my niece, my brother, and myself.
Dr. Rad did not "agree" with Previous Doctor's suggestion for treatment. Previous Doctor was the one who found the tumor and diagnosed it as cancer. His suggestion was to treat the tumor with radiation only and "make her comfortable" suggesting that the cancer was not curable. Dr. Rad, on the other hand, doesn't believe in half-hearted treatment. Instead, he "goes for the cure" which includes radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery...
After an extended discussion with Dr. Rad, which Mom seemed to fully understand (she sometimes has memory/comprehension issues – but then, so do I), the choices were to go with "radiation only" at another facility and with Another Doctor since Dr. Rad "doesn't do that" or to go with Dr. Rad for the cure. We were all quite surprised when Mom said that she wanted to go for the cure! Quite a change from 3 1/2 years ago when she wouldn't do either radiation or chemo for the breast cancer!
Mom is taking it all in stride and, at least on the surface, seems to be handling everything quite well. She seems to have an optimistic outlook (somewhat surprising to us given her negative-thinking tendencies) and is trying to follow the recommendations of the doctors as far as eating more/better (she has lost about 20 pounds in the last six months) and drinking more fluids (the treatment could cause dehydration). We even got her started on Carnation Instant Breakfast, which is what was recommended as a supplement, and she actually likes it!
On Wednesday we had a meeting with the chemotherapy doctor, Dr. Chemo. She too was very thorough in her explanations of the two types of chemo treatment available – an oral pill and IV/infusion pump. Dr. Chemo patiently answered all of our questions. She also talked directly to Mom and we all liked her as well. I think it is extremely important to like your doctors and those who are treating you!
Yesterday they did a P.E.T. Scan to see if there were any other "hot" spots. Today we returned to see Dr. Rad for the results and to set up the treatment schedule. The P.E.T. Scan did not show any other abnormalities though apparently some lymph nodes have been affected. However, they are in the pelvic region and will be able to be treated along with the tumor. If there is such a thing as “good news” associated with the cancer, I guess it is that it hasn't spread outside the rectum, other than some of those lymph nodes.
Insurance won't cover the oral chemo-medication, which would have been easier to administer, so the chemo will be via an IV/Port infusion pump. As you can probably guess, both have pros and cons with various and different so-called "minor" side affects. We've been told that she won't lose her hair but that there may be some nausea.
Anyway, treatment starts Monday afternoon (January 10th). Chemo will be given in conjunction with the radiation and will be five days a week for 5 1/2 weeks (a total of 28 treatments). A technician will come to the apartment on Saturdays to disconnect the chemo pump then on Mondays we see the Chemo Doc to resume the chemo treatment for the next five days. Radiation will be done daily at the treatment center in Fort Wayne. After the first session, it will only take 15-20 minutes for each treatment - it takes us longer than that to get there!
After the chemo/radiation treatment they will wait 5-6 weeks then there will surgery to remove the affected area of the colon and rectum. Depending upon how well the treatment worked and the damage done by the radiation she may or may not end up with a colostomy bag.
About six weeks after surgery more tests will be done to determine if additional chemotherapy is required. If so, that could last for up to six additional months.
We're just going to take it a day at a time and hope that she does not have any serious side-effects from the radiation and chemo.