Yesterday afternoon began very typical of so many of our days. I left work, got Meghan at school, and instead of heading home we headed to 60th and 5th for a doctor’s appointment.
Trip to Manhattan, not a problem. Trip IN Manhattan – super high stress.
Felix met us and I was able to let Meghan out of the car to endure the extra 20 minutes needed to get around the block to the parking garage I had printed a coupon for. Silly as it may sound, that advanced planing has saved me hundreds of dollars – as our bill yesterday alone was a meager $35 for the lot as compared to the $63 it could have been.
Inside we filled out tons of paperwork, Meghan and I as new patients, and Felix in for his one year follow up. It was the first time we’ve actually had an appointment as a family.
Last year we ended up with this doctor for Felix after a skin biopsy went bad locally. It took weeks for me to obtain less than favorable results, news of unclear margins, and the potential wait of several weeks for a repeat excision. I promptly transferred the biopsy slides and all information to a cancer specialty center in Manhattan and we met our doctor. She had the slides reviewed and told Felix that not one, but BOTH sites biopsied needed further attention. She took them to clean margins and ultimately diagnosed him with “Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome.” He had been fortunate. Precancerous lesions cleanly removed. Annual screening from then until forever.
This year Felix squirmed a bit when I talked about his follow up, but I knew if we could all be connected to this doctor it would be a win all around. Little did I know the scope of the score it would be.
Meghan, now with not only Cowden’s to raise her skin cancer risk, but also the genetic “dysplastic nevus syndrome” potentially inherited from her father, needed a dermatologist in place for annual screenings – ASAP. And for me, well, it was something I had been doing, but not with someone too good. Time to ratchet it up a notch.
The doctor was amazing.
She immediately made Meghan feel comfortable and valuable, and spoke with her at length about the presentation of Cowden’s Syndrome she had experienced. My daughter is incredibly empowered about her own health and held a 10 minute conversation quite nicely. While I filled in a few gaps, the doctor told us she had worked previously at the NIH, (National Institute of Health,) and the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and was therefore, aware of Cowden’s Syndrome. That alone is a rarity in our world.
But she took it much farther than that. She wanted to know about the disease presentation in me as well. She wanted to know how much had gone on before and after diagnosis, and how difficult of a path we had traveled to try and find knowledgeable doctors. She was in constant thought, wondering about what she could do. She spoke almost immediately about training her peers to be the front lines in screening for Cowden’s Syndrome, and how if they could identify classic marks like the trichilemmoma she removed from my forearm, they might be able to raise flags early and help save lives.
She wanted to know what we had in terms of screening, and records. What could I send her? CDs? Images? PDF? How fast? She could have my CT scan reread for no fee. Just send everything. (Of course everything is in about 6 inches of binders. So there is sorting and scanning to be done.
What is this http://www.PTENfoundation.org ? She wanted to know. Can she refer people there? What if she publishes in a dermatology journal? Could she list the foundation?
My head was literally spinning – but in a good way for once.
I am going to present on you she said, both of you. But no one has to know its you.
“Can I come?” asks my curious 11 year old.
And as she took such a liking to Meghan she asked me who was managing her care. When I said, “me.” She was visibly bothered for me.
Someone should be looking after her. Let’s think about what she needs. And with that she rattled off doctors to handle things I couldn’t get my local doctors to address with a ten foot pole. She told me I’d hear from her this week, and from some other doctors too.
I left with three negative exams, 6 months for me and Meghan, and a year for Felix. I left with my belly hungry and my head racing.
Was I dreaming? Had I really finally found the doctor to help us?
No one should have to travel your path alone, she said. You need help navigating.
From her lips to God’s ears. May she be true to her word.
In the mean time I have quite the homework assignment.
So as I sit with my “eventbrite” window open, excitedly hearing the “dings” of attention out February Fundraiser is generating – I am going to get started on perhaps the most important homework of our live