Friday, March 24, 2006

I would like some chemo and baby back baby back ribs, please.

A couple of days ago, I went to see my new oncologist at the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern. I'm beginning to love Northwestern Hospital. It's very fancy and it doesn't really feel like a hospital because they do a great job of hiding all that tile floor antiseptic smell behind closed doors. Anyway, Robert H. Lurie must have been a pretty rich mofo because the Cancer center is the whole top floor of the hospital. Walking out of the elevator sort of felt like I was going to the Ritz-Carlton of waiting rooms. I'm sure my insurance company will love it too.

The waiting area is huge, with check in places everywhere. Once I figured out just where I hell I had to go, I was given a pager and told to wait anywhere. Sweet, I thought to myself. Just like Chili's. Perhaps my doctor will tell me what the specials are before offering me a perfect margarita. I settled into a chair right next to the huge wall of windows overlooking Lake Michigan, and read a copy of WebMD the magazine. It proceeded to tell me that someone did a study on soap opera comas and how they are unrealistic. This made me chuckle. What? You mean real life isn't actually like TV?

Anyway, I was paged (appetizer sampler anyone?) and went to yet another teeny tiny room. Yet another few people felt me up. I swear, I haven't gotten this much action since I worked on cruise ships. Some oncology fellow asked if I had experienced any other symptoms, like rapid weight loss. I looked at him and asked, "Does it look like I've had weight loss?" See, I was actually losing weight on purpose before I was diagnosed. Then I stressed and wallowed. I told myself Maria liked chicken McNuggets. I digress...

Anyway, I met my oncologist. I liked her. Seemed like a real hard ass. Younger. I immediately noticed her awesome $5k watch. Chopard Happy diamonds- red leather band. Classy, yet fun. (Remember I was the shoppping guide on ships- I notice these things.) Cancer must pay well. She told me the following-

No, don't go back in and take any more nodes. Chemo will kill it.

We'll pump you so full of drugs you shouldn't feel any horrible nausea. (sweet- drugs)

Shave your head/cut it really short after your first treatment- it's a lot less traumatizing them finding foot long clumps of hair on your pillow or in your drain.

Chemo will start in a few weeks after the baby thing.

I'll need some crazy heart scan and my chemo port put in before we actually start.

I will be getting 8 cycles of chemo- each 2 weeks apart. In essence, 16 weeks of chemo- 4 months of good times.

Okay, so that about covers it. So off I go to meet Jeffrey, my patient representative. Patient Rep- think of him as my concierge at the Cancer Ritz. He schedules my scans, keeps in touch with me, gets me theater tickets. He's a wonderful little queen. He reminded me of the wonderful nurse I had before my surgery. The queens make me feel a little bit more at home. He got a wig catalog out of a closet. Alan made some inappropriate joke (mostly to himself) about closets. He laughed at his brilliance for twenty minutes. I asked Jeffrey where the chemo takes place. Everyone I know has had chemo in like a big room with a bunch of other people. Oh, no sweetheart, he tells me. Not here at the Ritz. He takes me to what I call the penthouse. Not all chemo rooms are like this, but the one he shows me is the equivalent of a $500,000 studio apartment. Wall of windows, overlooking the lake, Navy Pier, etc. There's a bed and a chair. My own computer and TV with DVD selections. It was super sweet. All thoughts I had entertained about possibly doing chemo in the suburbs were dashed when I saw the penthouse. It's like going back to Target sheets after sleeping on 600 threat count sateen. I'm a chemo snob. Sue me.

So that's where I'm at. Chemo will swing in to high gear in a few weeks. I get my port in next Tuesday. My oncologist seems to think we don't need to do any other surgery of any kind. I want her watch. If I have to do this chemo thing, at least it will be in style.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's some info about the Lurie family and the center. They do a ton of research there are searching for a cure for all kinds of cancers.

Go cats!

At the age of 46, Bob Lurie was living a happy comfortable life. An engineering graduate of the University of Michigan with a Master's Degree, he had deviated into the real estate arena with his college friend Sam Zell. Together they had forged a successful career in real estate and diversified investments. Sam was the "outside man," forging relationships with big names in business and "doing the deals." Bob did the detailed back room work to make the business and finances flow, along with nurturing relationships with a group of faithful and devoted employees. Bob had a devoted wife and six young children who were the focus of his love and attention.

In 1987, life changed for the Luries. At the age of 46, Bob was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Without treatment, Dr. Steve Rosen speculated that cancer would take his life within six months. So began a medical and personal relationship between Bob, Ann, and Steve Rosen that exists today. Bob fought a valiant fight. He never gave in to his illness, but rather accepted the inconvenience of treatment while continuing with his life and urging his friends to "stop and smell the roses." Ann, a registered nurse, was able to administer care at home, thus avoiding further life changes.

In 1990, when the end of his life was made imminent, Bob and Ann discussed with Dr. Rosen the possibility of endowing the Cancer Center at Northwestern University. Steve asked that the center bear his name. Bestowing the name of an individual on a cancer center, particularly an individual so admired by those who came in contact with him, would personalize the Cancer Center, Steve related, so that everyone in contact with the Cancer Center would be reminded that cancer is not some distant enemy - cancer intrudes on the lives of individuals and sometimes kills, often when the patient is in the prime of his life. Bob's name would be symbolic of that focus - that cancer research and treatment is about sparing people, about eliminating each patient's pain and suffering.

Bob died on June 20, 1990, two years and six months after his initial diagnosis. His legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of his wife, his six children and those who knew him. His family continues to support the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. They salute with pride the enormous strides made in the last 10 years and hope that someday we will triumph over this disease.