It would be an understatement to say I didn't expect much from the appointment. But my reconstructive surgeon wanted me to see this one more oncologist. He worked with one who he talked with about my case. So back in June I had promised him I would meet his colleague.
My faith was pretty shaken. What could be more disheartening than my last experience with one of the oncology gods?
So a little after ten AM this morning I walked into the familiar doctor's office building at George Washington University hospital, holding my husband's hand for reassurance. I can't tell you I had anything but reservations.
The space the Hematology and Oncology department has seems darker and is more cramped than the one I'm used to a few floors above. There's no teak, mahogany or brass in sight. One desk area sits beside a rolling clothes rack of freshly laundered lab coats in an area carved out of the hallway and on it the computer monitor looms, looking like it was made in 1992.
In a waiting area no larger than a smallish apartment bedroom, patients sat as if waiting for bad news but hoping for the best.
No one was alone. One was with his friend, another was a mother daughter pair. There were three husbands accompanying wives, ages ranging from fifty up a decade or two; it's hard sometimes to tell age with cancer patients.
As we waited, husband grumbling about doctors not keeping their appointments timely, me - when I wasn't popping up for a continuing stream of water to quench an unquenchable thirst - lecturing on doctors that had to deal with difficult diseases, a white coat caught my eye outside the lab. Discussing a woman's blood work with her son, there was something notable in his manner with the young man who was asking questions. They moved a few feet into the hall and leaned towards each other, looks of concern on both faces.
It was an oddly reassuring moment amid the quiet. Could this be more than just another stop along the way for me? Maybe there were oncologists that did not treat all cancer patients like pegs to be fit into neat round holes.
Nevertheless, I reassured my husband that I wasn't too emotionally invested in this doctor being "the one". He said he'd failed to see the name tag on the doctor we'd seen in conversation.
There are seven or eight of them in the group at GW; who knows who this random stranger was?
OK - I reiterated - if this appointment was a bust I was on my way to Hopkins. My heart would not be broken.
But I didn't need to worry.
I've found my pragmatic oncologist. One who does not think he has all the answers. But if there are problems we'll work around them.
And he told me to email him.
The guy in the hallway.