Thursday, July 10, 2008

Report Card Time

I had my first visit with my new oncologist, Dr. Alfonso Villamil, of Coastal Bend Cancer Center in Corpus Christi, yesterday. In a nutshell, my situation is progressing "normally" (that being a very relative term when it comes to cancer) using my last visit to my Austin oncologist in April as a baseline. My blood markers for liver cancer are trending upward, as they were expected to, but otherwise things appear to be stable-----my red blood cell count is unchanged since April. Unless something happens, like a rapid drop in weight or development of pain, my next visit and round of tests will be in October. I feel very comfortable with Dr. Villamil as my oncologist; he understands my decision to forego "hail Mary" treatments with a low probability of success and instead concentrate on maximizing my functioning and comfort in daily life. There are two varieties of oncologists: 1) the type who feels you have a moral obligation to undergo any and all treatments and therapies, no matter how small the odds of success (or, at least, all therapies and treatments covered by your insurance), and 2) those who understand quality of life is the most important thing for some patients, and for such patients spending three months in a near-comotose state from chemotherapy in hopes you're one of the lucky 10% who get to live six more months is not a worthwhile bet or acceptable trade-off. Thankfully, Dr. Villamil is a type 2 oncologist. I feel I am going to have a good relationship with him.