What do you do when you learn of two different specialists, both of whom are highly recommended? You decide to visit both of them.
Early in this journey (I’m not a fan of the word “journey” but I guess it fits) we learned that Dr. M at Duke is the specialist in North Carolina for NETs. So we immediately had Don’s gastroenterologist refer us to him along with referral to Cone Cancer Center in Greensboro. The Duke appt will be on April 18 and has been on the calendar for a while.
Meanwhile, I contacted a friend of mine (a friend from my Chapel Hill days, who is a total overachiever* – a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon – look it up!) who went to Duke Med School to see what he could learn about Dr. M at Duke. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if this friend, Dr. Bob, has any connections at Duke. I’m a big believer in networking. (Rule #1 in networking – Who do you know? Rule #2 – Who do they know?)
So Dr. Bob was busy saving children’s lives in Mexico when he got my email (yes, really) so promised to get back to me in a few days. Later that week he reported that he had spoken with a trusted colleague, also a graduate of Duke Med, who suggested we visit Dr. K at UNC. He even gave me Dr. K’s phone number. It was his opinion that UNC was the best cancer center in the state. This information is enough to get my attention! (Note – no criticism intended towards Duke or their students or their graduates. It is undoubtedly an excellent institution. But you gotta pay attention when two overachievers give you their professional opinion.) They both agreed that when it comes to uncommon diseases, a bigger cancer center (teaching hospital) is a better place to receive care.
At this point I figured I should probably think about the issue that I had not yet given any attention to: insurance/billing. Do we need (another) referral? Can we get a 2nd opinion *and* a 3rd opinion? How does this work? (Of course we can, but what will it cost? Does it matter?) Dr. Bob suggested I call the insurance company for clarification, so I did. The person I spoke with was very helpful and confirmed that we do not need any referrals and both the UNC doc and the Duke doc are in-network. (In-network are magical words for cancer patients and for any patients who are dealing with chronic illness. See? I am learning.)
Next step was to call Dr. K at UNC. Susie answered the phone there and she was amazing. I explained the situation, she asked the right questions and scheduled our appointment for April 10! She explained that she has worked there a long time, and could answer any questions, and if she didn’t know the answers, she would find the right person with the answers. She will call Cone and our local docs to gather all the scans, labs, and reports, so Dr. K has it all handy. “I’ll get those for you, Ms. Chandler, you have enough to worry about.” I love that, don’t you? Confidence, comfort, assuredness. I have a good feeling about this.
So … busy couple of weeks ahead. Thur 3/30 – colonoscopy/endoscopy; Fri 3/31 – first administration of monthly shot; week of 4/3 and 4/10- no medical stuff; Tue 4/18 – visit to Dr. M/Duke; Mon 4/24 – visit to Dr. K/UNC. Cross your fingers for us!
Oh, and I can’t forget, Sun 4/23 – the Peacehaven Farm Walk! Sure to be a fun day at the farm. I am so grateful this is our 3rd time around for this event. The roller coaster ride continues.
*Some people are meant to be overachievers! God bless them. They are following their calling and making the world better.
Pictured: a bunch of overachievers saving a child’s life. #internationalheartcare