I had an appointment with my oncologist today.
When we arrived at the cancer centre there was a line-up for the registration desk, which appeared to be staffed by someone who was new at the job (I actually muttered to the woman behind me,"It looks like they have the B team on today." Don't judge me. The cancer centre makes me cranky). I stood in line for twenty minutes, only to be informed that my oncologist was running an hour behind.
The waiting room was absolutely packed with grumpy people. At one point, I turned to T. and said, "I loathe this place. I don't just dislike it a little. I really and truly loathe it."
Then I saw my oncologist. It was a very strange appointment. I had no concerns about my health to discuss and neither did he. He told me that I look great. We chatted about our families. He also said that it's silly that I have to come into the cancer centre and wait around for him when we have nothing to talk about. He asked me if I wanted to start doing my appointments over the phone.
I jumped all over that offer.
I still need to go and see him in person every three months or so ("when it's convenient" or when I feel the need to see him). I will continue to have regular tests and scans and to have treatment once a month. But no more waiting for hours to see the oncologist, "just to say hello."
I love that man (and so does my spouse. I am so glad that he was there with me today because my oncologist is so reassuring. I think it might have freaked him out a little if I had come home today and announced, "I don't have to go and see Dr. G. in person any more!").
Dr. G. mentioned again today that cancer is a chronic illness ("like diabetes") that needs to be monitored, treated and managed over the long term. If we see any spots, we will deal with them. And when we need to, we will begin a more aggressive course of treatment.
He also said that there are so many new drugs to treat cancer now that he can barely keep track of them all. He also said that "it's a very exciting time."
This really does make me very hopeful. I am very glad to know that when the time comes to ramp things up again I will have so many options. And that a doctor who is smart, compassionate and really good at his job will be helping me to make treatment choices.
But until that time comes, I am very happy to just phone in my appointments.