Crisis Management, Step 1: A Stellar Medical Team

A shout out to my stellar medical strategy team, my informal and formal support on all things medical:

My sister-in-law, Anne, who is amazingly persistent and tenacious, and who loves me to bits, and whose sense of the broad-brush strokes of what’s important is absolutely on the mark. And to Anne’s family, for being there on call whenever we have a question, for your medical knowledge and networks and willingness to help, my deepest gratitude and love. And to my brother, for holding down the home front, and to my niece and nephew for giving up their mommy for longer than they wanted to.

My favorite college roomie, Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner, for her incredible sense of perspective and strategy, as well as the occasional dirty joke to keep my spirits up.

My rockstar of a cousin, Rosemary Detweiler, who just so happens to run a pathology lab, and whose down-to-earth common sense and knowledge has been invaluable.

My parents, who held my hand after surgery and told me I did the right thing.

My dad, for his guidance on the Jesuit discipline of discernment and decision making, and for the encouragement to stick to my guns for what I want, but to listen very carefully to what people are saying and even what they aren’t saying, and for teaching me the art of asking questions, as we know that the question that we wouldn’t know to ask is the one that gets us in the end. And also for rescheduling his own surgery and enduring yet more pain so that he could be there for me.

And to my mom, for being such a good mom and giving up her week to come take care of me in the midst of her own very busy career and home remodel, and for teaching me not to freak out over little medical glitches. And for lending me her friend Judy as a surrogate mom, and to Judy, for teaching me the calming art of Soduko puzzle solving. (Yikes!)

And of course to my doctors so far – the radiologist who first caught the tumor; my naturopath, Dr. Ripley, who was the first doctor I called and who pretty much told me how things were going to go down, and they in fact did – and my deepest thanks to her for getting me in with the surgeon I adored; Dr. Giswold who made the great call to have the MRI done, which was what really showed us what was going on; Dr. Mashru, the oncologist who ordered the PET and CT scans which provided the very reassuring information that the cancer is NOT systemic; to both of my oncologists, who called me personally, boy does it make a difference to have my docs call me, thank you; and to my surgeon, Dr. Carmen Hudson who took out the tumor and who has had my back at every turn, and to Dr. Judith Richmond of the Oregon Breast Center, a surgeon who just so happened to stop by my surgery to consult on my lymph nodes, and who stopped by in pre-op to tell me everything was going to be ok. Because it is.

And to all the medical staff who were super helpful, especially Kristin in Xray at Kaiser Sunnyside, who gathered films in record time allowing us to make a crucial 2nd opinion appointment, and to my hypnotherapist Suzanne Browne, who referred me to my surgeon, who I adore, a big thanks.

To Dr. Lake, the sweetest cardiologist in the world, who called me personally when I was really freaked out about what turned out to be a lab error, and who went the extra mile to do a cardio cat scan and an echo to prove without a doubt that I have a good heart, my unending gratitude. And to the cardio nurse, Denise, may all your days be blessed, for your incredible kindness and efficiency.

To all the lab staff that helped fast-track results which we desperately needed, you are good, good people.

To the phlebotemists who actually listen when I say I’m a hard stick, blessings on you. To the IV “tiny vein” man who had the wherewithall to sing “I’m so vain” (lol) but more importantly who actually used a wonderful invention called a lidocaine wheel to make the IV in my hand hurt less, my deepest thanks.

To the mean receptionist who was a total biaatch to me on the phone when I was sitting in a hospital bed 17 hours post mastectomy, may there be a dark place in the world for you. To the medical receptionist at Peace Health who demanded inane information from me when I was in urgent care and couldn’t breathe and therefore couldn’t talk, go to hell. And to the doc who relied on one errant blood sample to MISdiagnose congestive heart failure and scare the hell out of me when 90% of the other evidence was to the contrary – dude, go back to medical school.

To everyone who was helpful, my deepest thanks. To those of you who were obstacles in the path of my care, may I suggest switching jobs? To the oncology nurse who told us we were micromanaging my care, well, I complained to member services about you already. Entirely inappropriate thing to say to a patient. Just to reiterate – every patient has the right to ask questions about their care, to request relevant tests, and to have those tests and questions answered in a timely fashion. If the medical model today was that one doctor really was able to manage the entirety of a patient’s care, well that would be one thing, but the reality today is that patients manage their own care. So to those medical staff who help us do that, I am so, so grateful.

And for my personal medical team, I don’t know what I would do without you. It’s so much new information, and having help makes such an enormous difference I just can’t conceive of life without you.

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7 Comments

Filed under breast cancer, support, surgery

7 responses to “Crisis Management, Step 1: A Stellar Medical Team

  1. Amanda,
    You rock! So glad that you are through this portion of your journey. Love you to bits. Sounds like you have a kick butt support system around you. How awesome!
    All my best,
    Maria

  2. Jen

    Amanda,
    Love your new site…just wish it didn’t come about because of cancer. Know that you have super good vibes girating their way through cyberspace all the way from Wisconsin.
    Now, you kick cancer in the butt! I know you can do it.
    Hugs,
    Jen, mom of Grace & Meghan, ZZ Alphas

  3. Courtney

    Holy Cow! Look at all these people. This is all so reassuring to see how many people know their stuff and how hard they’re working for you and how hard you are working for yourself. You know what’s best and I LOVE that you’re going to get it!

    You’re the best cancer fighter ever!
    xoxoxoxoxoxo
    courtney

  4. Amanda I already admired you but you give me new reasons to each day. You not only will beat this but you will do it with style! We love you!

    Jill W. (Marek’s mom from Liverfamilies)

  5. Mary McLaughlin

    Hi Amanda,

    You are so super resourceful–that’s why you found so many super people to support you. I KNOW you will beat this cancer–and educate and make us all more vigilant in the process.

    I love that you can share your experiences with us, and I know that some of the time each day is harder than you let us know.

    It was funny that the nurse accused you of micromanaging your case. You can come and micromanage for me anytime!

    Love,
    Mary

  6. Kristin

    You are so amazing, Amanda! So smart, strong, and resilant!!! I can’t say how happy we are that you are healing and doing better and better and better! XOXOX – Kristin, Bill, Connor, and Anna

  7. I have invasive loblular breast cancer as well and had hoped for a team of caring professionals such as you seem to have and I am glad to hear that it is actually something that some women find.

    Thanks for helping me to smile today. It’s so good to hear that this sort of thing exists in the world. 🙂

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