In August of 2005. I was diagnosed with cancer;advanced Head and Neck cancer, Stage IV. I asked the doctor how many stages there were. He said, “Four.” Needless to say I was shocked. Denial, fear, anger and a wide range of other emotions and questions flooded my brain. Up until this fateful day, I enjoyed near perfect health.
The Ear Nose and throat specialist who first diagnosed my cancer referred me to a group of oncologist here on Cape Cod where I live. They explained the seriousness of my condition and outlined a treatment plan.
I liked these doctors right away. However, there is a very well known Cancer Treatment Center less than a hundred miles away in Boston. I decided I would go there for a second opinion. I met with a team of four doctors. One would be the lead physician, one for radiation, one for chemotherapy and one for surgery if needed.
My first impression of these doctors was that they were the most egotistical and arrogant group of people I had ever met. However, because of the reputation of the center, I decided to have them treat me. After all, I was hiring competent medical specialist, not the winners of a personality test.
The chemotherapy was to be done over several in-patient visits. I asked the doctors if they would give me Neulasta to keep my white blood cell count up during the chemotherapy treatments. They told me if I needed it they would.
After leaving the hospital following my first round of chemotherapy, I was rushed to the local hospital. I had an extremely high fever, my porta cath was infected and oozing puss and my white blood cell count was .444. Normal is 500 to 1,000. I didn’t even have one white cell in my body to fight infection. Obviously, I needed the Neulasta.
The hospital here on the cape had an ambulance transport me back to the hospital in Boston. After getting my fever down and my white blood cells up I was sent home to rest before my next round of Chemotherapy.
When I returned to the hospital, I again requested they give me Neulasta. They chose not to. Again my white blood cell count plummeted. Not being able to fight viruses, I contracted Diverticulitus and had to have a colostomy.
I like to joke and say that I am the only person in the world who had a colostomy as a result of Head and neck Cancer. That is usually related to colon cancer.
At any rate that hospital stay lasted for 32 consecutive days. Just before being discharged the head oncologist for my treatment team said to me, “Mr. Fink, you don’t respond well to our treatment, we think you should go back to the cape and let those doctors treat you.” That was “nice”. I’m being sarcastic. After they almost killed me, they washed their hands of me.
When I was discharged, I was not physically able to return home. I needed a walker to get around and was sent to a rehabilitation center. That’s what they called it. It was a nursing home.
After getting out of the hospital I contacted the oncologist here on the cape. The truth is going to that well-known treatment center in Boston was a big mistake. I should have stayed with the oncologist I originally met with following my diagnosis.
I discovered that I would have to start my chemotherapy treatment all over again. I also had to have a tonsillectomy. The primary cancer was in my tonsils. I also had 38 treatments of radiation.
In my opinion, the two oncologists that treated me here on the cape are the best doctors in the world. Today I am cancer free. I should have stayed with them from the very beginning. Thank you Dr. Victor Aviles. (My chemotherapy doctor)
Thank you Dr. Robert McAnaw. (My radiation doctor) Thank you Dr. Douglas Mann. (My Ear, Nose and Throat doctor.) You guys saved my life and I am very grateful.