Showing posts with label Springfield Breast Care Center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Springfield Breast Care Center. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Learning To Accept Realities and Laugh A Little More

Two months since I found out about the cancer in my body, I try to enforce a change in my lifestyle.
Nothing swiftly radical: just a change of pace, actually a slow-down in the work place, less crowds,  more quiet time, more veggies in each meal, fruits each day, Zumba even right after the once-a-week chemo treatment, and the hardest part, learning to avoid stress and trying to sleep before midnight.

A  few well-meaning friends are warmer now, sending me prayers, fruits, and positive vibes.
Some close family members call and show up more often.
My own staff  struggle to work better, to avoid causing me undue stress.
Acquaintances at my Clients' workplaces are sympathetic when they learn of my condition or 
take notice of the headband I wear to cover my baldness. 
Neighbours, even strangers I meet on the road and in the clinics and a few public places look kindly.

I feel blessed for the tireless support of my Beloved who has even become more affectionate since the cancer set in.  She patiently accompanies me in the weekly blood works and the 6-hour chemo session each week, and on top of these, has to go through what could be an ordeal of listening to  a litany of my reads, discoveries, and complaints as I cope with the mild side effects of the ongoing treatment.

The handful of well-trained nurses and caring staff under Surgeon-Onco Dr. Romeo Diaz of the Springfield Breast Care Center in SMX are like family now.  Friends and colleagues from long ago suddenly make their presence felt and friends of friends reach out with words of Faith and courage. 

I thank God for all the support, as I go through the changes in my lifestyle, and in the way I feel about the reality of a Stage 3B cancer in my body,  and the "85% recurrence rate as Stage 4" 
(a new reality that I have to put on a watch forever starting on the third month after what I am hoping will just have to be a partial mastectomy.)   

But there is One Reality I realise will never change.

I refer to them as an Odd Couple, not to mean oddness for strange, but odd for being different and totally separate from the support system described above. Before any of this life-changing experience happened,  I had felt they never really accepted me despite my many efforts to reach out in both subtle and open ways.

I struggle not to get hurt each time I am in the same place with the Odd Couple, a situation that couldn't be avoided.   For the longest time, I had been hoping to cultivate at least a  friendship,  and I had thought my new situation with a fatal disease could become an opening.

I hoped that perhaps they can become compassionate out of pity for someone who has cancer, or be gentler out of plain courtesy to an almost-elderly,  or just  kinder to someone who will live "no more than five years".

I was wrong in thinking that things between us would change once they learn of my condition.

Every day, I pray for The Miracle of Healing. Heal my body of the disease, and Heal my Soul of the hurt. This is the cross I carry each day, the One Reality  I have to learn to accept so I can laugh inside a little more.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BEATING BREAST CANCER: Getting A Second Opinion Saved Me

Getting A Second Opinion Saved Me

While I was all set for a hurreidly-decided March 13 "double set-up" "frozen section" procedure,
where the right breast was to be removed if the 6-cm tumor was found malignant, there was a nagging question on my mind if indeed this was a good decision.

Days ahead, and in my talks with family members equally ignorant of other options in beating cancer, everyone seemed to accept my decision as good and most probably the best and quickest way to get the cancer out of my system. Everyone, except my Beloved, who had expressed we must find a second opinion. I hesitated at first, thinking it will only delay things; after all, we had talked to 3 doctors already at the UST Hospital.

Fortunately, and perhaps by Divine Intervention, at a social get-together dinner we hosted for a visiting friend  a week before the dreaded March 13,  some nieces who were practising nurses
came over.  I did not want to talk about the disease at a party time like this and not to the younger ones at that. But in the course of the evening when we got to talk about their hospital duty caring for children with cancer, our conversation led deeper into a discussion of my case. I ended up showing them my lab results.

Vernice Tamayo the company nurse at SM conglomerate referred us to Surgeon-Oncologist Dr. ROMEO DIAZ who has set-up the Springfield Breast Care Center at the SMX, in the Mall of Asia. Dr. Diaz, a gentle-smiling, and highly experienced  oncologist used to practise at Ohio and Springfield in Massachusets USA before deciding to move his practise to his homeland in the Philippines.

The appointment was for Monday, 4 days prior to Friday the 13th. After the physical examination, Dr. Diaz prescribed a different approach to treating the cancer on my right breast. In fact, a total  reversal in approach. Instead of rushing to remove the tumour, and the entire organ, he explained very calmly that a BIOPSY must be done FIRST:

1. To determine the type of cancer, how aggressive it is
2. To determine if it has spread to lungs, liver, bone or brain.
3. To determine the stage of the cancer,  so a WHOLISTIC treatment plan can be achieved.

This sounded plausible, especially when he explained that he might be able to SHRINK the tumour first with CHEMOTHERAPY,  kill the surrounding cancer-stricken  LYMPH NODES and if possible, save my breast.

His approach made more sense to me;  I never imagined that he could even make use of the tumour as an indicator if the chemo will work for me.

I was all set that very day.  I cancelled the appointed March 13 surgery at UST Hospital.

And for the first time in my 56 years, I went under the knife of Dr. Diaz for a BIOPSY right there and then at his homey clinic Springfield Breast Care Center.

The specimen, looking more like fatty bone marrow meat, was analysed at the Makati Medical Center,  where Dr. Diaz also sent me for Liver Ultrasound, Bone Scan and several Blood Tests.

Although I came clear with the tests for lungs, liver and bone scans,  the biopsy results bearing the Breast Panel and Ki-67 tests confirmed the 6-cm malignant tumor and several cancer-stricken lymph nodes. The scans could see about 6;  Dr. Diaz says that there might be more, smaller that the scans cannot see.

I was diagnosed Stage 3A. But hopeful now with a better, perhaps the best, Treatment Plan ahead.