Lab Coats

Date: March 24th, 2011

Time: 8:40 PM

Status: A Long Week of Lab Coats

Info: When I was a kid my father and the guy down the street used to play this game during parties.  All the adults would be out in the yard wrapping up a day of drinks and barbecue while the kids ran around the yard, played in the pool, etc, etc.  Once the sun had set and the sky took on that great color of darkness Dad would just stand there in the yard with his sidekick and look into the sky.  Eventually other adults who were probably in on the gag would come and join them and before you knew it they were all straining their necks looking up to the sky, pointing, gasping and filled with curiosity.  All it took was one kid to walk up to the group of quote unquote adults and ask “Mr. Cheney, what are you looking at?” … the seed was planted and the first unknowing customer had arrived.  One kid, two kids, three kids and before you knew it everyone was agreeing they all saw what my dad said was up there.  Of course it was all bunk and being one of the older kids in the neighborhood I just let my dad play his game.  He did have fun with crowds, and honestly had my father not created this diversion the party would have been the same old adults on one side of the yard and the kids either on the other or just taking off out-of-bounds – so yea, I loved what he did and it worked every time we gathered down the street for these type of neighborhood get-togethers.

When Bonnie and I were with Dr. Norton yesterday something about her pathology report struck us odd.  The report indicated the tumor inside her left breast was 3.5 cm.  Here’s the deal.  Bonnie’s mammogram in January detected an anomaly of approx 1.3 cm, the follow-up MRI showed the same thing.  The doctor conducting the biopsy indicated he removed the entirety or a really good percentage of it. I was there – I witnessed him removing it.

With me so far?

So although we had a very good visit with Bonnie’s surgeon yesterday the numbers and pathology report now need to be fed to her oncologist who provides us with a therapy regimen.  He only has the numbers which were provided in the pathology report, he takes these numbers and feeds them into a database of sorts which creates a bar graph representing the likelihood of cancer returning to her systems with a combination of tamoxifen; chemotherapy, or no treatment at all.

After Dr. Stanton provided us the stark realization that the likelihood of cancer returning to Bonnie’s system without any treatment at all we both took a long breath, held each other’s hands and then looked at the numbers (or percentage) of the likelihood should she begin chemotherapy treatments.  We understood what we were looking at, but it’s yet another door we’ve not yet walked through.  Chemo treatments will be 1-3 hours long, once every two weeks for four months.  A total of 16 treatments.  Okay.  Another long breath.  Lots of questions regarding side effects, what she can expect, etc., etc.

Then something strange happened.  Bonnie asked the oncologist to plug-in the original size of the tumor (1.5cm) to see what the chemo therapy would be … voila … NO CHEMO.  Numbers don’t lie, right?

My dad really did see something in the dark of the night, right?

Long and short – we’ve got our surgeon Dr. Norton working on having the tumor (still in a glass in some laboratory in Santa Rosa) reexamined to ENSURE the size of it.  It was something she said during our consult Wednesday.  She too was really surprised at the size on the report and then she said “maybe he got it wrong” … I trust Dr. Norton, but it’s the lab coats we don’t see that we’re questioning right now and I’m sure each of you can understand our concern.  Hell if there’s no reason for chemo – why bother, right? RIGHT! Rhetorical, I know.

We’re both very burned out right now.  We enjoyed a great grilled tri-tip with a side of red potatoes and Logan’s homemade salad for dinner and now relaxing on the couch with tonight’s episode of The Office.

The weekend approaches and the crew from Bonnie’s office has completely restocked our wine cabinet during their lunchtime visit today.  We need a lot of thank-you cards!!!

If we’re wrong about questioning the report – then we’re wrong, but we, as tired cancer patients don’t get too many opportunities to sit back and A-S-S-U-M-E the folks in lab coats are 100 percent correct every day of the week, every day of the year.


Keep her close you guys.




4 thoughts on “Lab Coats

  1. I am praying the lab coat made a mistake and transposed some numbers…I commend you both for advocating for yourselves and asking all the questions! One thing is for sure, Bonnie has a GREAT positive attitude and is a very strong lady. I spoke with her last night and she sounds confident and strong willed. That’s our girl 🙂 Today begins a beautiful weeekend for all of you with no appointments…just relaxation and a good bottle of red! Love you both….and one more thing…. GO UCONN HUSKIES!!!!

  2. Paul,

    I am glad you guys asked. Once shortly after chemo started a PA came in and told me based on her touch/exam the tumor was not shrinking or softening and I was devasted..I asked what the inter rater reliability was between she and my main oncologist and she went and got him…and just like that, he was bowled over at homw much it had shrunk and softened. Anyway even if the low end is right,chemo sucks but is sure good insurance against any strays…hope you all are well…


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