Chapter 3 the consult

The appointment for the surgical consult was a week away-
“Is that the earliest?” I asked the receptionist, wanting to see the surgeon that very afternoon.
“Yes, that’s the earliest” she said as she looked at me with sad, concerned eyes as she proceeded to write the info on an appointment card…. I guess she knew.
I left the Gastro Dr.s office in that bitter cold January morning and called my friend to tell her the news. She said her mom had the same thing 10 years prior and it was caught in time before it metastasized, it too was a tumor.
“How big was it?” I asked as I walked to the train station to the Port Authority. “About an inch” the voice on the other end of my PDA replied.
 “This one’s bigger”, I answered, ignoring the cold “how old was your mom when she was diagnosed?”  “She was 62”,
“You see, that’s where I’m in shock, I’m way too young to have this happen” (I was 45) I said in disbelief.
“Try not to think of it, (easier said than done) “when is the consult? I’ll go with you, I’ll call later”
I called another dear friend of mine while I was waiting for the bus to take me to work at the Port Authority.
I went to work that day not confiding to anyone. As it happens, it was a colleagues birthday that January 9th , and … as the office celebrated with a collaborative “happy birthday” followed by cake I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be my last year on earth… I thought as a slice of cake was handed to me.
The appointment day finally arrived, it was early morning and I had two friends of mine join me for both moral support and to absorb the information since I was still in a state of dazed shock.
At the waiting room my friends and I sat down and, while they talked about everyday stuff I was busy filling out the paperwork that was handed to me. Before long my name was called, and while my friends and I entered the room I was greeted by a woman with caring big blue eyes and bright smile wearing the familiar garb Dr’s wear – long white overcoat complete with stethoscope around her neck. She introduced herself as the Surgeon’s physician’s assistant. She instructed us to be seated and the surgeon will be in shortly.
After a few long minutes in came the surgeon, I was amazed at how young he looked.
He has a handsome compassionate face, a great disposition complete with a quick smile, a twinkle in his eye and soft voice.
He exuded confidence regarding the pending surgery; he gave best case and worst case scenenerios, Best case being that the tumor is completely removed followed by a 6 month stint of chemotherapy as a precaution. Worst case is that they operate and find that they can’t remove the tumor because of its size; at that point I will be given chemo treatments until the tumor is small enough so that they could operate and remove it.
“How big is the tumor?” I was able to ask.
“Oh, it’s large” he replied. “Would you like to see it?”
Before I had a chance to respond …he did something I was not prepared for… he pulled up my CT scan showing my tumor in all its glory right there in the 15 inch monitor. Next thing I knew I was face to face with my new enemy… I was shocked at the sight and relieved that my friends were there taking notes… because I was too stunned.
“What’s the size?” I asked, fixated on the monitor.
“Well it’s….” there was a measurement in centimeters in the middle of the screen next to image of the tumor, he started counting down with the mouse… “One, two three, four, five…” that’s where the measurement ended and the length of the tumor went beyond that.
“It looks to be about the size of a small grapefruit”
There was a moment of stunned silence in the office.
A friend of mine asked what stage it is – “stage 3” he replied. He went on to say that, based on its size; it’s about three years old.
That means it formed when I was 42!
Who thinks about getting a colonoscopy at 42?! My biggest worry at that time was if I was pregnant/not pregnant, not if I had a mad polyp in my colon.
As if ready my mind the surgeon said that it started out as a polyp, and then it just grew.
“But… I had no symptoms, no bleeding, pain…anything” I said. Then I told him of the Oprah episode I just by chance watched in which Dr. Oz talked about “The poop discussion”. We talked about that and how lucky I was to have caught the episode, recognized the symptoms and talked to my Dr. about it.
“No joke”, I said to myself.
“Why didn’t I have any pains if it was that size” I asked.
The surgeon explained that it’s the location; it’s on the right side – just where it turns to liquid – so the symptoms wouldn’t have surfaced until it was in the late stages.
He also mentioned that the tumor was pressing up against the muscles of my abdomen, and it’s dangerously close to my kidney – but not to worry – the liver is clear so it looks like it could be saved.
    I was at risk of losing a kidney?! This was just too much information  to grasp.
Although it was still early in the morning… I was already in the mood for a stiff drink.
    Next thing I knew I was laying on the examination table and the surgeon was kneading the right side of my abdomen. “Yes, I could feel it right here” he said.
“Are you busy this afternoon? Can the surgery be done then?” I said half- jokingly. I just wanted this thing out… now!
    The surgeon laughed and said it will be done on the 27th; this was the 16th of January … almost 2 weeks away.
    One of my friends was busy writing everything down; grateful she was doing this since I was in no way capable of such a task.
I remember the physician’s assistant was back in the office talking to the surgeon. Then I went with her to her office as the surgeon said his goodbyes and runs off, followed by my friends saying their goodbyes as they run off to work.
Alone with the physician’s assistant she told me of the next steps and gave me a printout of how to prep myself days before surgery.
“How long will out of work?” I asked
“about a month” was her reply.
Shocked by that answer, I repeated her reply “A month?!, why so long?”
“This is major surgery, your body needs time to heal”
Shortly after I left her office dazed.
    Next thing I remember I was on my way to the garage to collect my compact SUV to drive back to work, trying to absorb the morning’s events.
Dr. Oz talks about the importance of Aspirin & how it helps prevent colon cancer.

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