Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Tumor Update

Back in January, I told you all that I have a tumor on my left adrenal gland that may or may not be cancerous. (See A Belated Merry Christmas.) What I didn't tell you was that I had an uneasy feeling about my urologist. I thought he was an alright doctor, but young and inexperienced. He said a few things that tipped me off, and though I won't mention the particulars here, I'll say that when I left his office that week before Christmas, I had a nagging feeling that said, "Prepare yourself for surgery because this isn't over yet."

I also had the thought to get a second opinion. So I texted my doctor-friend Nick to see if he knew of a good urologist in Salt Lake City, and he immediately referred me to Dr. Jay Bishoff.

Well, I finally saw Dr. Bishoff this week, and what can I say? I instantly felt a wash of trust and confidence in this doctor. He listened to me intently, told me about his experience with adrenal tumors, and explained everything to me in detail. At one point, he said, "Pull your chair over here and look at these CT scans with me." He then went through the images, one by one, and showed me where my tumor was and explained why he thought it should be removed. Here's what I understand from our conversation:

  1. A tumor that is 4cm is much too big for waiting and watching, as my first urologist suggested.
  2. Metabolically inactive tumors (tumors that increase or decrease the production of certain hormones) may or may not suggest cancer because only 25% of cancerous adrenal tumors are metabolically active. It's always important to test the metabolism of the tumor, though, because if it is active, then medications have to be taken to prepare for surgery. Thankfully, my tumor is inactive, which means I don't have to wait to have surgery.
  3. My tumor has some necrosis, or dead tissue, which suggests cancer.
  4. For unknown reasons, adrenal tumors are especially aggressive (fast-growing) in women my age.

So what does this all mean? It means that in about a month, I'll have this sucker removed. Dr. Bishoff said he'll know more once he cuts me open, but until then, he's treating my tumor as though it is cancerous because it very likely could be.

Here's the thing: Although nobody ever likes to hear that they have cancer, my situation feels about as good as it can because 1) It seems likely that it's a simple matter of removing it, and 2) I have nothing but confidence in my doctor. He was careful to explain everything to me, from where he would make the laparoscopic incisions to how he would perform the surgery. He also told me to ask questions whenever I didn't understand something, and as an extremely curious person, I appreciated that. When he left the examination room, the medical assistant who was taking copious notes said, "I've worked with a lot of doctors, and he really is the best."

So how am I feeling? I'm actually feeling relieved. I couldn't ask for a better doctor, and I feel good that there's a plan. I also feel good about getting this thing out of me. Finally, I hope this explains why I've been exhausted and even fatigued for the last six months.

I'll keep you updated, of course, but your well-wishes and prayers are much appreciated.

Thing I'm thankful for: my pre-med classes in undergrad