A mantle of snow covered the landscape along I-90 on our trip to Rochester, MN Sunday afternoon, bringing to mind a quote from George Herbert that “Every mile is two in winter”. Along with that came thoughts of how this is our fourth season in which we have seen the Mayo Clinic. The seasonal cycle is complete and how fitting that on this trip we see how successful the cancer treatment for Sam has been. The journey has been long and arduous and is something that no one can really appreciate except the patient.
Our first appointment was Monday morning at 6:45 a.m. for the PET scan which took around three hours. By our appointment with the Radiology Oncologist at 1:00 p.m. the scan was online and reviewed by them. The results were good, there were no Christmas tree lights on this one. On we went to the next appointments, ending the day with Dr. Eric Moore, Sam’s surgeon. As far as we are concerned Dr. Moore is a rock star. When we were given little hope from the medical community in Chicago, it was a much different story at Mayo. (For greater detail, please read previous posts from spring of 2010).
Dr. Moore always takes his time with us and makes sure if we have any questions or concerns they are addressed before we leave. We went down memory lane, to May and how he had discussed curing Sam’s cancer. He went on to say that he believed this should also be viewed as a “turning point” in Sam’s life. At his pre-cancer weight and life style he was headed for a stroke and heart disease. Now he has the opportunity to continue the 90+ lb. weight loss and start an exercise regimen that will extend his life. He isn’t concerned with just the cancer, but the over all well being of the patient. Folks, you just don’t see that much in the medical industry anymore. The Mayo Clinic is the “Gold Standard” of health care
Then I wanted to ask ‘THE” question. I did it rather clumsily, but Dr. Moore knew what I was trying to get at. Is Sam considered cancer free, is he cured? What does today mean?
As he was washing his hands, he pointed out that while the cancer can return anytime, it usually happens within the first three years after treatment. But something not many people realize is that 90% of recurrences happen within six months of ending treatment. So he would see us again in April and four times a year after that for five years. Then they would say goodbye to us.
“So back to my question Dr. Moore, what does today mean?” He looked at me, drying his hands and answered, ” It means today is a good day.”