Thursday, December 4, 2008

Getting in to see an oncologist

While our primary care physician had given us a referral to an oncologist at Cascade Cancer Center, they couldn't see us until the following Monday. After thinking about this for a little while, we decided to take this into our own hands, and contacted Seattle Cancer Care Alliance directly, to see if we couldn't get in any sooner. It just didn't seem like a good idea to sit and wait until Monday. When one of my father's customers (Dr. Slota) back in Upstate NY heard about my case and WBC number, she immediately said that I needed to see someone sooner. That gave us re-assurance that we were doing the right thing, and thanks to Cynthia we had appointments with both SCCA and Puget Sound Cancer Center the very next day (Thursday).
We were equally impressed with both oncologists and the staff, but we decided almost immediately to start treatment at SCCA. Dr. Petersdorf did a bone marrow aspiration right away, which would get the process going on determining type and what treatments would be available. Their intuition was that this was Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), due to the ratios in the blood of the different types of cells and stages. I'm sure I'll get very educated on this in no time.
The good news is that CML is the most treatable Leukemia, and now we were just left to determine what phase I was in, Chronic, Accelerated or Blast phase. The first line defense of CML is a drug called Gleevec. For those who have followed Tyler's blog, that was his first medication as well, and he was doing quite well for many months, until he just didn't respond the way they expected. For 90% of the patients in the chronic phase, there are good results on Gleevec alone, and our disappointments have been huge along the way as Tyler hasn't responded to the different drugs they have had him on.

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