05 July 2007

Is Ignorance REALLY Bliss?

If you don't know the crazy, mixed-up story of my current health issue, you might want to start here, here, and here (at least skim!). Trust me, things will make a lot more sense. Caught up now?

If you have been following this story from the beginning, you should notice that I have tried to keep my sense of humor about things, as best I can. Sure, cracking jokes is my coping mechanism, in general, but I have been making a concerted effort to be as positive as I can about what is coming down the pike. I have a friend who has been suffering from his own cancer for about 15 years - someone who rightfully should have been defeated by his disease years ago, according to his doctors. It seems to me that his attitude, which amazed me every day before my own illness was anywhere on the radar, has helped him defeat his own cancer, almost singlehandedly. If I could duplicate that - heck, I should be in pretty good shape.

I wonder, though, if there isn't a fine line between keeping a positive attitude and burying your head in the sand, when it comes to what may lie ahead. Since I started writing about my health, I have probably downplayed the severity of what has been going on. Did I just not want to confront what was coming at me? Beats me, but if you will recall, at one time, I didn't give my doctor more than a 30% chance of being right in his cancer diagnosis. As of my meeting this morning at Moffitt, I am pretty well convinced that the initial cancer diagnosis was correct.

My visit was enlightening, to say the least. The new doctor, whose specialty is listed as "urological surgeon" took one look at the photos from my last procedure and immediately said that it looks like a serious reality that I will need to have my bladder removed. He concurred with the assessment that there is a large bladder tumor, and based on the size and location of the tumor, many of the less aggressive treatment options may not be available to me. That's the bad news - the good news is that someone my age - and relative good health - should have a better-than-average chance of full recovery (with, hopefully, full use of ALL my pieces and parts).

OK...before we start doing procedures like a radical cystectomy, I am sure that we need to make sure that it is (a) necessary, and (b) all other alternatives have been exhausted. To this end, I have a procedure scheduled for next Monday (7/9) where the surgeon will perform a biopsy - he tells me that he will attempt to get as much of the tumor removed as possible. After that procedure, we will be able to better discuss any and all available treatment options. Chemotherapy looks like a possibility somewhere in my future, as well.

Admittedly, I am a little more nervous than I was yesterday - concerned, too - and, heck, pretty damn scared, on top of all that. The whole idea that "ignorance is bliss" is one thing - right up until you realize that maybe this is a little more serious than you had really considered. For the moment, I have confidence in this doctor. He tells me that he did 80 of these operations last year (bladder removal) - that is 1 1/2 operations per week. On the one hand, it sounds like he knows what he's doing - from what I have read, the most succssful patients are the ones who have the most experienced doctors. On the other hand, there are a few more bits of research that I need to do. For instance, if this guy does this surgery with this degree of frequency, is it because it is his default answer for everything? A guy comes in with a sprained toe, does he think he needs to remove a bladder? Also, of the 80 surgeries he performed, he admits that none of them were performed on anyone as young as me. Perhaps I need to seek out someone who has performed this surgery on someone my own age?

I will try to update with any new information as it becomes available. Or...I will just write my next post about something fun - like fried chicken!


Dave said...

I mentioned a fried chicken sandwich in my blog post yesterday... :)

And don't worry, I've been stressing about this for you. No need to thank me! (Though as always, I'm sure you'll need to talk me off the ledge!)


miss said...

Nope, at this point you don't seek out somebody who's done the surgery on someone your own age. That's called "putting it off". And I know you don't put things off. I'm gonna be thinking of you all day tomorrow. (in case they put my google user name on for my sign-off, whatever the hell it is - it's Harriet)

The Travelin' Man said...

No need to stress...nothing to see here...move along. :-)

Harriet - nothing really about putting things off, per se. But, after doing a little bit of research, it seems like a second opinion is certainly not out of line - especially considering the severity of this surgery. Since I would be getting this second opinion, anyway, I think it might be prudent to get that opinion from someone who has done this surgery on someone most like myself - especially because my age is the most unusual aspect of my own case.

Anyway, nothing being done yet anyway - he may do the biopsy tomorrow and find something completely different than what is expected (crossing fingers!).