Sammy's Story – First Oncology Appointment

sammy and dana at oncologist appointment

It was Friday morning. We woke early, piled in the car and made the trek to Madison. It was time for Sammy’s consult with Dr. Shiu. As I watched Sammy limp into the office, I prayed for relief. Relief for us both.

While we waited for Dr. Shiu, I prayed he’d say Sammy had an injury and not cancer. I prayed he’d say it was something other than osteosarcoma – anything else. It took only moments for the original diagnosis to be confirmed, then the if/then options came. Amputation if the cancer had not spread. Palliative care if it had. The options for palliative care – radiation, bone strengthening, chemotherapy, pain medication.

I’m a person who in crisis needs as many details as possible to process next steps. As Dr. Shiu spoke, I peppered him with questions. While my head and heart were spinning, I was certain of one thing – any decision about Sammy’s care was mine. Dr. Shiu and his team were not there to tell me what to do. I wasn’t obligated to a particular treatment protocol. I could (and would) do only what was best for Sammy to care for her physically and emotionally.

We decided on three procedures for that day – a biopsy for an additional confirm of osteosarcoma and put Mom’s data-loving mind at ease, a CT scan to determine if there was metastasis in Sammy’s lungs, and a bone strengthening treatment called Zoledronate. Zoledonrate would be administered while Sammy was under for her biopsy.

Sammy happily headed back with the staff and I distracted myself with errands. I was putting an incredible amount of trust in this team. Although I was nervous and uncertain about so much, I knew we would have a better sense of where this cancer was and support the bone that was causing so much pain.

I received a call that Sammy was ready to go home. I rushed to the clinic, eager for information. Dr. Shiu had pulled cells for the biopsy, the results of which we’d have in a few days. He invited me back to his desk to review the CT scan. He did not see any obvious lung mets, but we’d know more after a radiologist reviewed the CT. Until then, we’d see how the bone strengthening treatment worked and increase one of Sammy’s pain medication.

I left that day feeling settled. Not calm but settled. There were still a few things we didn’t know. Once we had the CT results back and biopsy confirmation we could confidently choose her care. I met some amazing people in the medical staff and others who were at the clinic waiting for their appointments. I felt like I was part of a family. A family that would have my back. A family that understood. A family that held a badge of honor that none of us wanted but wore proudly.

That night at home as Sammy settled in, I knew I would do for Sammy what was in her best interest. I felt Sammy and I were closer than ever. That Sammy knew I would do anything for her. That her trust in me was stronger than ever. That I was stronger than ever. And stronger than I ever knew.

 

 

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