Saturday, December 31, 2005

December 30, 2005 - A Not-So-Long Wait, After All

Today I receive a surprise phone call from Dr. Portlock's receptionist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The doctor – who has evidently conferred with Dr. Lerner by telephone – has had a cancellation in her schedule, and is wondering if I can come see her this Tuesday, January 3rd, instead of the 17th. Of course I agree. This appointment is the most important thing on my calendar, and I'm eager to see it happen sooner, rather than later.

Just yesterday I received, in a UPS courier envelope, the pre-appointment information packet from Dr. Portlock's office – along with a lengthy list of reports, scan films and pathology tissue samples that must be faxed or shipped to New York City. There was also a stern warning that, if all these requested reports and materials were not forthcoming, my appointment would be subject to cancellation. (They don't mess around, those Sloan-Kettering people.)

I spent most of yesterday afternoon authorizing the release of these records - as well as the Fedex shipping of the films and tissue samples - so as to arrive in time for the people at Sloan-Kettering to study them prior to the 17th. Now it appears that having these items in advance is not so important as all that: with the New Year's holiday weekend looming between now and my rescheduled appointment on Tuesday, I'm supposed to simply bring them with me. (Dr. Portlock has already received the narrative reports of these tests, which Dr. Lerner's office faxed to her yesterday; it's the actual films and slides I'll bring with me that day.)

After some quick phone calls to Ocean Medical Center, the Fedex shipment of radiology and nuclear medicine films is cancelled in the nick of time, and the Pathology Department locates and packs up the biopsy slides. I pick them up from the two different offices: several very large envelopes containing the radiology and nuclear medicine films, and a small, padded mailing envelope with the tissue samples inside.

How many fruits of my medical labors of the past month or two are concentrated in those parcels! And how difficult it would be, were they to be lost! Believe me, I will be keeping very, very close track of them.

It's an odd feeling to hold the padded envelope with the tissue samples inside. Those cells, removed from the mass in my abdomen and now pressed between glass microscope slides, were once a part of my body. Yet they are also the enemy: rebel cells that are now prisoners of war, facing interrogation. I hope they spill all their secrets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I got a good chuckle out of the end of this post! I wish I could remember what metaphor you used a month or so ago that I thought would be a great way to image the cancer cells. But enemy combatants is truly the best!

Although I haven't posted here before, we've spoken frequently. I don't think I mentioned that I noted in my Christmas letter that your diagnosis was difficult news for me, both professionally and personally. But you and the congregation all know that I stand behind you in all of this.

Now I, too, know the enemy . . . and am glad some of them are POAs. Let the interrogation begin . . . and then let's knock 'em dead!