407-898-5452. Twelve years ago, that was a number I either called or received calls from several times a week. For months. Despite that, I never put it in the speed dial of my cell phone. Maybe it was a small measure of control I could wield… Maybe it was a teeny bit of denial.. Maybe I was just being ornery. But now, 12 years later, that number is still burned in to my brain, instantly recognizable, ridiculously powerful. So when it came up on my cell phone last week, “Uh oh” came out of my mouth. It’s the number of my oncologist’s office in Orlando.
I had been scheduled for an MRI along with my mammogram back in June, but for whatever reason, Huntsman Cancer Institute didn’t put it on the agenda. It’s been a dozen years; I wasn’t that concerned. But when I went for my annual blood draw (looking for tumor markers) at Hematology and Oncology Consultants in Orlando, Dr. Shroff sent me back to Park City with a new order. She’s a smart one, that Dr. Shroff. Because this time, the MRI showed a mass in the center of my chest. The call I got from the office was to send me back again to Huntsman for a CT scan for validation.
Funny how in Park City, I often don’t know what day it is (Patrick’s standard answer for “What day is it?” is “August” or “September” or whatever month it is.), but now, having to wait the weekend plus three days for approval for the procedure from my insurance company is three eternities. I absolutely know what day it is, and it’s getting closer to the holiday weekend. So I did what I do: Call, email, call, email to get in earlier, which I did (by one day).
The CT scan itself took three minutes. The technician asked a few times how I was doing, to which I gave my standard technician question response: “I’m doing my part.” Not much humor in this room, though. I got a blank stare. My answer required a follow-up “You know, doing my part… just lying here.” Whatever.
I was also hoping to trick the guy who did the scan into giving me information after, but he was as clammed up as he was humorless. Couldn’t crack him.
Because I have the best oncologist ever though, I got the results today, before the long Labor Day weekend. Dr. Shroff believes it’s probably a benign tumor called a thymoma, since it’s not attached to tissue or muscle or bone. She believes the chances of it being cancer are small. That being said, I’m flying back to Orlando (after racing the Big Kahuna half-ironman in Santa Cruz next weekend) from San Jose on Monday, September 8. I have a consult Tuesday, Sept 10 with the best thoracic surgeon in Orlando, biopsy and maybe -ectomy on Wednesday. I love and appreciate that I’m still Wendy Chioji in Orlando and can get medical attention like that. Like one of my surgeons said in 2001, “No one wants to be the doctor who kills Wendy Chioji.” 🙂
I’m not worried, and you shouldn’t be either. I don’t feel bad, nothing hurts. It’s a little weird that in a decade of MRI scans, this hasn’t shown up, but again, whatever. I had blood draws done when I was in Orlando in June, and if this were cancer, it should have shown up then, according to my doc. Since this procedure is possibly just a biopsy, or even if it is an -ectomy, it’s behind the ribs, not in the abdomen, so I expect recovery to be speedy. I’m not changing any plans yet, still running the Layton half-marathon tomorrow, Big Kahuna next Sunday… The Half Full triathlon in Maryland October 6 is standing on the edge of the plank, however, potentially to be the first event to be pushed to 2014. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So far, this is just inconvenient, not to mention expensive (last minute flight to ORLANDO???) But think about how much faster I’ll be with another 8cm of room for my lungs. You guys are all going down.