Saturday, December 20, 2008

Doctor proliferation...

Since there's no cure for MM, and there have been a lot of new drugs developed in the last 10 years to help combat it, there are a myriad of opinions on what protocol to follow. I want to talk with at least one doctor favoring each of these major protocols: no transplant, single autologous transplant, tandem autologous transplants, allogeneic transplants. That meant at least Dr. JB, Dr. BB, Dr. RC and potentially someone at Stanford, where Dr. SH had said some allogeneic work was being done.

Add to that that Dr. SH recommended specifically that I talk with Dr. BB, Dr. MG, and potentially Dr. JB as well as Dr. SF.

My boss' boss, whom I consider a friend and whom I decided to tell about my condition, immediately called his friend who is a prominent oncologist (Dr. DA) for a different type of cancer. He suggested I talk with Dr. BD and provided his name for a referral, so I knew I would talk with Dr. BD.

Another friend who is an accomplished scientist and works a great deal with the National Institute of Health told me Dr. ML was doing some interesting work.

Another friend who recently had a neighbor go through a Myeloma stem cell transplant said only certain doctors were in the know and Dr. ML was among them. So I figured Dr. ML was now added to the list.

Another work colleague who beat cancer 20 years ago called his guy at Sloan Kettering, and that person gave me several names: Dr. KA, Dr. DR, Dr. JB (some overlap at last) and Dr. SJ.

My good friend Dr. BM, not an oncologist by the guy who originally told me life expectancy was measured in 3-5 years and whose father's RM had a friend that 10 years ago went through a transplant and was still alive, told his father and RM told me to call his good friend, a prominent oncologist in another cancer field (Dr. SH, but not MY doctor SH, so we'll call him Dr. SH2). And THAT doctor was going to recommend a guy that turns out to be Dr. SH's partner, but he said Dr. SH was fantastic. And he said Dr. SF was "The Guy" to see, and that I shouldn't go anyplace other than City of Hope. This was all very reassuring. He also told me that two other doctors I was going to see (neither of whom I was planning on doing treatment with, both of whom are on the list below but both of whom shall remain nameless) were "B" players rather than "A" players. SH and SF were both "A" players so this made me feel good.

Lastly, there was PinnacleCare who suggested Dr. KA (more overlap!), Dr. BB (overlap again!), Dr. WD, Dr. V (don't know his first name) and Dr. DM.

So now, by my account:

Dr. SH (seen already, likely to be my primary guy)
Dr. SF (seen already, likely to be my transplant specialist)
Dr. BB (tandem guy)
Dr. KA (multiple suggestions, and at a very prominent cancer center)
Dr. SJ (an optimist and highly recommended, though PinnacleCare didn't know of him)
Dr. ML (single transplant guy, "in the know" at a local hospital)
Dr. BD (single transplant guy, came up with the staging system for the disease)
Dr. RC (allogeneic transplant)
Dr. MG (Dr. SH strongly suggested)
Dr. DM (PinnacleCare suggested, and at a very prominent cancer center)
Dr. V
Dr. WD

TWELVE DOCTORS, and that's assuming I am ruling out Dr. JB...which I've done at this point because I don't want to be on meds for the rest of my life, and because he's a bit of an outlier. I want to eradicate this disease...or keep it out of me for many years. The meds will just keep it at bay...I'm a believer in the transplant at this point. The question is, what kind...and how many.

And it will take that many doctors for me to feel like I've bottomed this all out.