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or "my first tattoo(s)"  Show this Post

 
so… we proceeded to phase II of treatment.   this was the first time my care was really transferred into the hands of oncology specialists (not counting my wife, of course), since until now all treatment and follow-up was handled by my urologist/surgeon.  This is _not_ the path of care that I would recommend to anyone without the kind of contacts and ready access to oncology consulting that I had because of my wife.
 
Don't ever START your "journey" (still hate the word in this context) without being referred to a dedicated cancer centre with experts in every possible treatment sector.   To begin with only a urology surgeon's input, is something like starting every DIY project with only a hammer.   As they say… if all you have is a hammer – everything looks like a nail… and similarly, to a surgeon – well…
 
that is not to denigrate my surgeon or associated care team, through my initial years, in any way – I went into this with my eyes wide open and an incredible knowledge base at my disposal, but… even so, knowing what I know now and given the much wider range of treatment options and even the variety of surgical options currently available – I would definitely want to be referred to my Regional Cancer Centre for a full investigation prior to making any decisions.
 
anyway, I had been put "on notice" in September when my PSA had doubled – and been referred to TBRCC.  This is where the inside connections come into play, as my wife was able to ensure I was seen by the radiation oncologist that she wanted me to see.  Not that any of them are "better" than the others (although obviously that will always be the case when measuring by some standard like experience, patient interaction, education, whatever…), but this was someone that she knew well and felt would be a good fit for me.
 
I had my initial consultation with him in early November – and a few weeks later I had my first appointment with the radiation team for measuring and marking… and by marking I mean "permanent marking" – yes indeed, my first (and second) and to-date – my only – tattoos.  They're not very exciting, being tiny blue dots, but due to the amount of work that goes into aligning them for the following 6-7 weeks of treatments – they don't want any chance of losing those markings, so they have to be permanent.  And like my surgical scar, they will remain unseen by all, but a handful of folk at the naturist resort in Curacao (I plan to visit when I'm 80), since they are high up on either hip.
 
now, I was scheduled for 33 "daily" radiation treatments, which you have to translate into "business" days – so, you can't count weekends or extra holidays over Christmas and New Year's, meaning what sounds like a month of treatments is really almost 2 elapsed months – in my case beginning on November 30th, 2004 and ending on January 18th , 2005.
 
at that point in time, my wife was not working at TBRCC, so the daily trips into the clinic were not co-ordinated in any way with her work schedule – or mine, for that matter… since I was fortunately on disability leave at the time – but were scheduled by the clinic, using what I believe was a dart board and a very spatially-disoriented booking clerk.  The amusing thing, is that they actually ask you, up front, what your preferred times are and then proceed to book you into anything but those times. smiley   However, using a combination of my wife's contacts and my magnetic personality, we were usually able to change the worst of the time-slots, that would otherwise have left me and my transportation team fighting rush-hour traffic out of Toronto.
 
next up –  9 ½  7 ½ weeks