We went to see another cancer team at Compass Oncology on Friday. The entire feel is different. We are transferring Sandi’s care there. There are several things right out of the gate:
The palliative specialist is a MD rather than a nurse or assistant. She immediately prescribed two new medicines to help with side effects. Only one was avail at the pharmacy, but it worked immediately, and so far is dramatically better at calming Sandi‘s gut... and no side effects from this new treatment. The second is for pain, but Sandi hasn’t been able to try it yet because its not available at the drug store. Third, there’s a very minor procedure, a nerve block for pancreas cancer patients, that is likely to solve the pain issue without side effects or drugs. Fourth, her instruction regarding meds was much more clear and helpful. Super upgrade in the palliative care area.
The oncologist is a Mayo Clinic Fellow. He is very kind. It is very clear he is treating Sandi as a person, not just another cancer case. He is realistic, but not a fatalist and doesn’t write people off. He thought the two marks on the CT scan in one of Sandi’s vertebra was scar tissue. Possibly that it could have been cancer, but that if it was, it’s dead now. So, he doesn’t want Sandi taking the bone hardener that she was scheduled to get... It had some side effects that could be nasty, so we’re super glad that is off the table. Also, he and another doctor he consulted with strongly believe that the liver changes observed on Sandi‘s latest CT are NOT cancer, but rather a fatty liver condition that is a known side effect of the chemo drugs Sandi has been getting. He also told Sandi after 9 chemo cycles, she’s more than due for a break. Most people only get through 5 or 6. Soooo... Sandi gets a 1 month break!!
Sandi went to Compass with a huge amount of dread and fear that she would get emotionally beaten up again, yet she walked out emensely relieved and encouraged. She’s been traumatized by some of the “care” she’s gotten in the past, not just one person or one time. Sandi’s previous oncologist was so determined to avoid false hope that, in effect she would crush all hope. The palliative care staff told her the marks in here bone would likely become excruciatingly painful... now we learn they very likely mean nothing at all. We talked to a surgeon in Seattle a while back that vented/dumped all over Sandi about a nightmare scenario he was experiencing with a different patient completely unrelated to Sandi... The available treatments for chemo side effects have not been suggested or tried, which means Sandi has suffered more than she should have. ...It‘s been a long road sprinkled with a lot of professionals who were unthinking and, as a result, needlessly cruel.
I obviously don’t know the future, but I do know that I now believe Sandi will no longer be just another case and will be getting the best possible care.