From my journal April 10th
Well it wasn't really D-Day as in reference to the invasion of Normandy. But Rich used it as slang to describe how we were feeling on our drive in to Madison.
We had to find the WIMR building and that got a bit tricky. We first pulled into the UW Hospital and Clinics parking area. After asking a valet parker where the heck we were supposed to go, we were directed to the infamous Lot 74.
We had been instructed to park in an slot assigned for PET scans. It was raining softly and we hurried across the lot to get under the canopy for the building.
We stepped inside and I tried to read the instructions on how to find where we were to go to check in. Someone stopped and helped direct us.
We sat quietly in the waiting room. A tech came and got Rich. She told me it would be at least an hour and 45 minutes before Rich got back.
I read a National Geographic from cover to cover. I played a game or two of solitaire on my Kindle. Then I twiddled my fingers.
Soon enough Rich came through the doors, he'd taken his med for anxiety to help him relax. He is claustrophobic and he gave me the thumbs up. The tech said he did very well, he slept through most of it.
We decided to go to the cafeteria and get something to eat before we headed over to the Carbone Cancer Center to meet with the Radiology Oncology people.
Getting lost in the UW Health system in Madison must be a regular thing. We had people guide us from one place to another.
Nervously we sat in yet one more waiting room. We didn't have much to say. The question on both of our minds was simply.
Where was this Stuff?
Was the news good or bad?
We didn't wait very long before a male nurse got us and took us into an examination room. He went through Rich's vitals and then went to get another doctor. That doctor came in and actually had the honor of giving us some good news.
The cancer had not spread. It was local. In the left tonsil and in the left lymph node. It wasn't anywhere else.
Then Dr. W. came in. He affirmed the PET scan findings and put the scan from the CT and the PET up on the monitor to show us exactly where the cancer was and how it was first discovered.
Our relief was overwhelming. Dr. W. then delivered the next part of the news.
A treatment plan.
So far as he could see it, Radiology would be 5 times a week. Chemotherapy would be once a week.
A mask of Rich's head and neck would have to be made so they could program the Radiation Treatments and tailor the treatment for his therapy.
The treatment would be Tomo Therapy. I could see that Rich's spirits were lifted as well as his attitude. Dr. W. expressed concerns about our long drive. He felt it would go fine for a few weeks but then we might want to consider staying closer to the hospital.
He gave Rich the broad over view of what to expect during treatment. He included the fact that the throat would get so sore that eating would be darned near impossible and he would have to have a feeding tube.
He cautioned also that no matter how awful it was to swallow, it was important that he do so and they would help with meds to make that possible.
He cautioned that things would get pretty tough and pretty nasty and that even tough guys had really bad days with this treatment.
Then I will never forget Dr. W. leaning over Rich and touching him on the shoulder.
"If you stick with me Rich through this treatment, I will cure this cancer."
I sat stunned in my chair. Did I just hear that right? Wait, wasn't cancer incurable?
Dr. W. went on to explain that Cancer was a big bad name that encompassed what he felt were thousands of 'cancers'. Every cancer was different. This cancer had the HPV-16 'marker' which had a better rate of cure and survival. This cancer had been caught early. He felt good about the outcome.
We made it back to the car and Rich handed me the keys. It had been a very long day.
We made it through D-Day with a prognosis that was good.
Well, good for us considering.
The sun was brighter, the sky was bluer, and Hope not disaster filled our heads.