A proven protocol

Today’s visit with the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care at Baystate was positive.  Don and I met with Dr. Luke Mantle and Dr. Armen Asik. Dr. Mantle, the much more talkative of the two, met with us first, and answered every question I had on my steno pad, including the fact that I would definitely lose my hair. Don asked him about his accent and he explained that he was from Ireland and had completed medical school there before coming to Baystate for an oncology fellowship a few years ago.

Dr. Asik joined us, examined me briefly, and reviewed the treatment protocol. I will have four to six months of chemotherapy, with a regimen called ABVD, which stands for the four drugs that make up the cocktail I will be given. Infusions will be done one day, every other week.  “You will lose your hair.” Dr. Asik is a man of few words.

Since my initial visit to the primary care physician, I have had multiple sets of bloodwork, a chest xray, two CT scans, a pulmonary functions test, an echo cardiogram, and a biopsy. Dr. Asik told me they will schedule one more test, a PET scan, which will confirm the diagnosis, but he’s pretty certain it’s stage 2, and curable, and the treatment plan has been proven.  Several tests will be conducted at various stages of the chemo to track its impact.

I told Dr. Asik and Dr. Mantle I am meeting with an oncologist at Dana Farber next week for a second opinion. They said if I decide to work with Dana Farber, they would partner with them, so I can get my chemo treatments locally.

I don’t consider myself a vain person, but the hair loss is honestly a concern. I will not be a cute bald person. Ruth, my hairdresser, is planning a strategy to transition me to a shorter haircut and then to a wig. My sister Susan, a hairdresser and cosmetology instructor, has offered to go with me to select a wig. Pictures to come!

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