Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Cancer Crisis: A Day Wasted or a Day Well Spent?

Tuesday the 13th Virginia and I took a day trip for a doctor appointment at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic (UIHC).  Last week her oncologist suggested getting a second opinion from either the UIHC or the Mayo Clinic, we’re actually a little closer to the UIHC so that’s where we went.

The appointment was scheduled for 2:00 pm, I had understood that the appointment was at 12:00 and left for Iowa City accordingly.  It was a good thing we left when did, navigating Iowa City is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the Garmin-less traveler.  We found the hospital and then realized we needed a Garmin to actually navigate the hospital complex.  We got checked in right at 12:30 and then spent the next hour and a half filling out paperwork.

We got called back for the appointment right on time and quickly discovered that the UIHC has a unique method of making sure that cell phone calls do not interrupt your visit with your doctor.  The waiting room has a nice strong clear signal but the exam rooms have none.  So for the next two and half hours we sat incommunicado.

We visited with the doctor, her nurse, her apprentice….  The diagnosis is the same.  Virginia has a VERY aggressive breast cancer that has “possibly” mutated and metastasized in the liver.  Her oncologist had only one very expensive treatment to suggest and was not very encouraging regarding Virginia’s chances.

UIHC’s Dr. Roeder had three possible treatments.  Virginia is now on a chemo pill regimen.  The paperwork has been started for the surgical SIRS-Spheres procedure.  So that’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that the prognosis has not changed.  Of the people who have had Virginia’s specific type of cancer, 50% were gone within five years dying from other diseases that the liver could no longer fight off, 10% lived for five years or more, 10% were gone within two months, the other 30% were spread unevenly between two months and five years.  We asked about a liver transplant and were told that is not an option as every time a transplant had been attempted in cases like Virginia’s the new liver was immediately attacked.

Why was the day a possible waste?  I’m not real impressed with the UIHC pharmacy.  We dropped Virginia’s prescription off at 4:45.  At 6:0o they finally had the chemo pills filled but because somebody screwed up the filing of the paperwork and the anti-nausea pills were not filled because insurance denied the claim.  Insurance claims that we had already filled the prescription earlier.  So we spent another half hour trying to get the anti-nausea pills.  I finally just paid for the dumb things because insurance was refusing to.

So we had a nice twelve-hour day start to finish.  No change in the prognosis.  We have a few more treatment options.  As a nice coda to the day, we did find a really nice Indian restaurant in Hiawatha.  I had never tried lamb curry before.  Virginia was impressed with the eggplant dish.

We’ll keep updates coming here.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.


April 14, 2010 - Posted by | Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , ,


  1. Again, Doctors never have the final say. Although the chance is slim, it is nonetheless there that something truly miraculous can happen. I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself praying for something selfish. When I realized what I was doing I switched from being me-focused to praying for you and Gin and some others I had let slip from my mind. Glad you got some encouragement, even if its just a tiny piece of good news.

    Comment by Hank Harwell | April 14, 2010

  2. What Steve failed to mention here is that her extended family is actively pursuing a homeopathic/naturpathic means of conquering this disease or at least giving her a quality of life for as many breaths as God has given her. He also didn’t say that the oncologist in Iowa City also approved of pursuing this method.
    He also didn’t say (and this is mom talking) that the whole family is committed to doing what all of us need to do to keep Gin healthy and becoming a conqueror of her disease because we all LOVE them so much.

    Comment by JoAnne Nibbelink | April 14, 2010

  3. A day spent together is never a waste, …. no matter what you are doing…. you’re doing it together!

    Comment by Rose Compton | April 14, 2010

  4. @Hank – Thanks bro. I appreciate it.

    @Mom – What Steve also failed to mention was that he was working on this post this morning before work. It was a bit hurried in nature.

    @Rose – When I titled this post this moring I was expecting the wait to get paperwork done, the wait once we were inside the exam room, and the wait at the pharmacy to all garner more attention than they did in the final post. Do I feel like time with my wife is wated, regardless of what we’re doing? No. However, I was less than impressed with the UIHC pharmacy.

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | April 14, 2010

  5. 10% make it. Gin is exceptional and part of that 10%. I’m sorry transplant isn’t an option and anything we can do, you know you’ve only to ask.

    Comment by viricordova | April 16, 2010

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