So far I have been to see a urologist (Dr. Wenger) and a radiation oncologist (Dr. Kottapolly). Today I went to see Dr. Conroy, oncologist. He came very highly recommended, is Board Certified and a Fellow (which means he REALLY knows his stuff, and is affiliated with Johns Hopkins (ditto). We went through my records, my tests, scans, bloodwork, results, surgical history…just about everything, really, since Day 1 of diagnosis. He was very thorough.
Two important things happened in this appointment. First, he confirmed for me the recommended treatment for the radiation. Stage I (no evidence of spreading anywhere) Seminomas, being highly sensitive to radiation, are treated with short blasts of the stuff for 13-14 days. They used to do the abdomen and the area from just below the belly button down along the pelvis to about where the leg connects to the pelvis for 4-6 weeks. They call it the “hockey stick” because it looks like a goalie’s stick. Dr. Kottapolly wanted to leave out the pelvic area because of the increased morbidity (still relatively low) of radiating that area, which led to cancer in the bowels. Dr. Conroy concurred, saying Stage II (evidence of some spreading, usually to the lymph nodes and/or lungs) were treated with the “hockey stick” but that Stage I’s could just as effectively be treated without it, aiming at the abdomen only, for a shorter period of time.
Second, he agreed to be my quarterback. One of the most exhausting things about the whole cancer experience is coordinating the care. It’s even more so when you are handling it yourself, which is what I have been doing. Dr. Conroy is going to take over scheduling CT Scans, lung x-rays, follow up care, appointments with other specialists as needed and all of the necessary secondary questions that need to be handled. It’s a huge relief. It’s not that I am going to be relaxed or uninvolved in the care anymore (surely you know me better than that!), but it’s nice to know someone else will be helping with all of that, and that I’ll be able to breathe a little.
At the conclusion, he ordered a Complete Blood Culture (CBC), and asked me to come back in a month. Blood work…let’s go with the Right Arm this time…