Date: April 2, 2024

Meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon

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When you are first diagnosed with cancer, meeting your team of doctors and nurses is a lot to take in. It is information by fire hose, remember to either take someone with you or document the appointments so you can go back to your notes.

A smiling surgeon with a warm scarf, enjoying a chilly day outdoors.

Meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon was such a surreal experience. The amount of information I received in these two visits alone was completely overwhelming. Thankfully my husband was with me and was able to have his wits about him to process the information for the both of us. Honestly, the man has way more experience than I do processing information in life-and-death situations so this was right in his wheelhouse! Had my husband not been there I would have probably needed to voice-record my appointments.

We met with my surgeon first, which was perfect because I was 100% convinced that this was going to be a quick surgery, they would remove my tumor and we would have this wrapped up by the end of the year. Once again, I could not have been more wrong.

After my surgeon came into the room, we visited briefly to get to know each other a bit, but then we got down to the reason for the visit. After a quick exam, he then pulled out the biopsy and sonogram results. After he reviewed them with us, he asked if I had already met with oncology. I said no, but that had I assumed due to the size of the tumor being smaller all I would need was surgery. He quickly let me know that my tumor was not THAT small and I would most likely need chemo before surgery.

I was stunned! That was not what I had mentally planned for or what I had imagined happening at this visit, and for someone like me, that is earth-shattering. Refusing to give up on my plan for treating my cancer, I asked again if I could have surgery. Gently, he said that they were also waiting on another test to confirm whether I was HER2+ or HER2- and depending on the results there was a slim chance I could have surgery first.

The relief I felt to know that there was a chance I could have surgery first was huge! You see knowing that there is a tumor growing inside you is one of the most freaky things. You literally have something growing in you that could kill you and I think most people's instinct is to want it out as soon as possible. Since the HER2 test was still out, my surgeon thought it best to meet with my oncologist while we waited for the results. That was ok with me, after all, it goes back to that forward motion.

Within a few days, I was able to meet with my oncologist. While my initial appointment was full of information again, my oncologist was patient and kind. I felt like he was only trying to give me the information we needed, I was thankful for that. As I sat there I thought how thankful I was that there are people on this earth who want the responsibility of his position.

My oncologist echoed much of my surgeon's sentiment that we needed to wait to hear the results of the HER2 test. To give me some peace of mind, he did give me the 10,000-foot view of the potential treatment plans either way my tests came back. For my scenario, both chemo and surgery would be a given, but immunotherapy and radiation were possibilities, those bridges would be addressed when we got to them.

We left the appointment and had at least somewhat of a game plan, but it again allowed me to rely on information and gave me time to mentally prepare myself for whatever was to come. About a week later my results came back, I was HER2+ so that meant chemo first. While a part of me was devastated, I tried to see the brighter side. I put my energy into hoping the chemo would do what it was supposed to, so surgery would not be as invasive which would mean recovery would be quicker. Of all the things I have learned about this journey, the one thing you want is to get back to your "normal" life as soon as possible!

A close-up of an arm with a healing cut covered with an adhesive bandage after a successful surgery.

Since chemo was next, my first step would be scheduling the surgery to have a port placed in my chest. A port allows the medications to be easily administered via the port so that an IV would not need to be placed each time. My surgeon's office called, we got my surgery scheduled ASAP and in the meantime, my oncologist's office would begin working on getting my chemo regimen approved by my insurance.

The insurance part of this process is mind-blowing! I am not sure why insurance companies take so long, do people make up having cancer? I mean it is not like once you find the cancer it stops growing because you found it. It's not like, oh you caught me, I will leave now. Thankfully, again with a lot of help, my chemo was approved and in roughly a couple of weeks, I got the call to schedule the date for my first round.

Even though my chemo was a little less than a week away, I went home to pack my chemo bag with all the items I had been gathering as I prepared for this day. Since I had gone to chemo with my sister I had an idea of what I would want/need, so I knew what I wanted to pack my chemo bag!

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Meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon
When you are first diagnosed with cancer, meeting your team of doctors and nurses is a lot to take in. It is information by fire hose, remember to either take someone with you or document the appointments so you can go back to your notes. Meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon was such a surreal […]
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