Joshua's Oncologist is Dr Jeffery Hanrahan, and although I have met with quite a few other doctors since we've been here, he is the one we see every day. Monday afternoon as I sat in the conference room across from the doctor, nurse and the social worker, I could feel a knot in the pit of my stomach. Now that the diagnosis has been confirmed, it's time to move forward with the treatment plan, unfortunately with cancer there are not a vast array of options to choose from.
First the doctor explained the diagnosis and gave me a report showing me how this type of cancer was genetically identified. Next we went over the treatment schedule, Joshua's treatments are expected to last between 7-8 months. Each type of cancer has what they call a protocol or roadmap that is followed that dictates the combination of drugs that will be used, the doses and duration. He is starting with chemotherapy, after about 3-4 months he will have surgery to remove the tumor along with part of his lung, and then finish with more chemotherapy. During the chemo he will be in the hospital, but he will be able to go home in between treatments if he is feeling well enough and has no fever.
I inquired about why we couldn't just do surgery right away, as I'm sure some of you might have this same question. The doctor explained that historically when surgery was done immediately on this type of cancer the long term success rate was diminished and, in some cases, it actually caused the cancer to spread to other organs, the bones or even caused brain tumors. So, doing surgery first is obviously something the doctors will not even consider.
Next the doctor went over the five chemotherapy drugs and all the side effects. This was the hardest part to hear because the drugs are basically all poisons that will poison the cancer and prevent it from spreading and growing any further and in the process poison my child. At this point, it was very difficult to hold back the tears any longer, knowing what Joshua has to go through is not an easy thing to swallow. Basically I have to let them make my child sick in order to make him well.