Column: Since It Ain’t Broken...

Column: Since It Ain’t Broken...


Kenneth B. Lourie

Apparently, at least in the near term, we’re (meaning my oncologist) not going to fix it. And by fix it, I am referring to my chemotherapy infusion, which will continue to be every three weeks, as it has been for almost six years; save for a year or so when I was able to take pills at home, and on-site infusions were not necessary. Last week, at my most recent face-to-face appointment with my oncologist, given my higher-than-hoped-for creatinine levels, (which led to a one week’s delay in my regularly scheduled infusion), I had inquired about extending my infusion interval to four weeks to give my kidneys a break. Considering the ongoing damage these vital organs have suffered after six years of non-stop chemotherapy, I thought – to quote my deceased father, “that the idea had merit.” And it does have merit and my oncologist has always been concerned about the effect. In fact, per his orders, I had seen a nephrologist (a kidney specialist) a few years back. After examining me on multiple appointments, the doctor suggested there was no real need for a return appointment. Though my creatinine levels were abnormally high, her assessment was, considering my pre-cancer/pre-chemotherapy lab work history had been normal, it would likely go back down if we stopped chemotherapy; but since it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be stopping chemotherapy, given my diagnosis, there was nothing to be done other than watching and managing the levels as my oncologist has been doing. And that’s what we’ve done and I’ve not been back to see her since.

Nevertheless, it is cause for concern. The kidney is a major organ. As it goes, so might yours truly go, and consequently its affect has been an ongoing theme/point of awareness during my six years of treatment. Fortunately, miraculously maybe (for all I know), a week later the second/rescheduled lab work showed that my creatinine levels had returned to its previous high normal and thus chemotherapy went on/in as semi usual. And thus begins, according to my oncologist, my new normal: I will continue to be scheduled for infusion every three weeks with my pre-chemotherapy lab work completed the Wednesday before the Friday. If my creatinine levels are high, we’ll delay, and reschedule the infusion for a week later as happened during this past interval. Now, we didn’t discuss what schedule we’d follow if abnormal creatinine levels persist. As has been established during previous conversations between Team Lourie and my oncologist, scenario questions are not helpful and we rarely venture into any what-ifs/what-abouts until absolutely necessary.

But what we did discuss at this last appointment was my future, a little bit. Considering the “shrinkage” written about in last week’s column, my oncologist was very encouraged and characterized my treatment going forward as something we’re going to be doing for awhile. But he said it so matter-of-fact, that we sort of took it for granted. He didn’t really fuss about it and we didn’t either. He said it. He didn’t really emphasize it. But he meant it. It was all good, that’s for sure.

On the way home, my wife, Dina and I reviewed what my oncologist had said and we became even more giddy at what had transpired/been said. It was certainly news with which we could live and that’s what we intend to do. I’m not about to look a gift oncologist in the mouth. Since nothing seems broken, I’m not looking to fix anything.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers.