After I came home from the AVL, I was tired and spent the next few days sleeping, walking a bit and trying to get back some strength. Emmy (my neighbor from room A012 in the hospital) called me on Saturday and told me Sander had had bad news. Sunday morning Victor and I visited Sander in the hospital. He had been told on Friday that there was nothing they could for him. That’s a shock. On the way out, we saw Wendy, his wife and wished her strength. Also on Sunday, Nancy flew over from London just to see me. She and my mom took the dogs out for a long walk.
On Monday 22nd October, we had an appointment at the VUMC in Amsterdam for the second opinion. The doctor who met us, dr. Westgeest, is a fellow in oncology and explained that he had gone through the dossier and wanted to ask me some questions. He also explained that the second opinion would be that of the team, not just his opinion. He had noticed that the second scan was taken with a different technique from the first, which made it difficult to compare the two. Also, the liver had changed shape. He could not reach any conclusions based on what he saw, and proposed to do a new scan. But since I’m being treated in the AVL, he suggested to wait with the scan.
He was very interested, and listened well. He asked why we asked for a second opinion. I felt that the last results were somewhat unclear, especially the scan, which two radiologists and my oncologists all interpreted differently. Also, the treatment my oncologist had proposed (Taxol) and the one I was now receiving at AVL (Mytomycine) were quite different. So I want someone independent to review the choices and also to help me make new ones as we progress.
Since I was already being treated by the AVL, dr. Westgeest intended to call them, as well as Tergooi and our GP dr. de Bruin. He checked me physically and also needed blood results. A colleague of his is doing a study on particles in blood which may be used to diagnose or track cancer, and he asked if I would be willing to donate two tubes of blood. I agreed and waited for his colleague, Koen. Unfortunately, the nurses had all gone home for the day. Koen tried to draw the blood himself, but it didn’t work because my veins are so hard. So we agreed to return the next day.
On Tuesday, we went to the lab where Koen met us. I was helped right away by an experienced nurse. She had all the tubes filled in no time at all. That afternoon we went to a store in Bergschenhoek where I’d seen a comfortable couch. I sat on it and was sold. The couch will be delivered on Monday.
Later that day Victor received a voicemail from Dr. Baars from the AVL. She had gotten the blood results from dr. Westgeest and told us that the liver values had improved a bit. This is less than a week from the treatment, so I’m hoping they will improve further.
On Wednesday and Thursday my condition improved, and I started eating solid foods again. We received the good news from our friends Jasper and Alice that their son Arthur was born on Tuesday evening. Alice also has metastasized cancer and needs chemo. On Thursday dr. de Bruin stopped by to tell us she had spoken with dr. Westgeest and was informed of the treatment at the AVL. When we said we were worried about the cancer spreading, she said that the cancer is already in the body, and is unlikely to disappear, so it is a matter of time. She also said that different specialists have different approaches, AVL is focusing on the liver, which is the most urgent. Next Monday we have a second appointment with dr. Westgeest. And on November 14th, I have the second treatment at AVL.
This week I’ve improved a lot. I can take walks of about 20 minutes, I can go to the store, eat solid food again and talk. After three weeks of hardly talking, it’s nice to be able to talk and to eat again. Physically, I feel better every day. In the afternoons I get a bit tired, and then need to lie down for an hour or two. But otherwise I feel ok. It’s just strange that I can only look a month ahead, so making plans is not possible at the moment. But I’m enjoying every day and I try to enjoy the small daily pleasures, the sun shining, a walk, friends and neighbors who stop by. In short, just enjoying life!