Date: Thursday, June 5, 2014To which he responded:
To: "Carrillo, Jose"
Cc: Nathan Swanek
Subject: Paula DeWitt
Dr. Carrillo,Is there any way my husband and I could meet briefly with you – even over the phone? From what we gathered from our appt. today with Dr. Ou, there may not be a point to treating the cancers in her body when the brain is progressing so quickly. Let me know if this would be possible to arrange. Thanks so much.Megan
Hi Megan,I would be glad to talk over the telephone with you some time today. Unfortunately, upon my return from the conference my schedule has been quite compressed, so a call might be best. Would later on this afternoon be okay? Let me know what times work best for you.Thanks,JoseJose Carrillo, M.D.Neuro-OncologyAssistant Professor of NeurologyDirector, Neuroscience ClerkshipUC Irvine Health714-456-7214
He called my husband and I after 7pm while we were hanging out at my Mom's. We took the call outside, put him on speaker phone, and were prepared for some tough answers to our tough questions. I had started to think that maybe Dr. Ou knew something we didn't: maybe her brain metastasis were spreading or growing at an alarming rate and no one had told us. If there were new recent developments, we needed to hear them. What he gave us instead was a replenishment of the hope Dr. Ou stole from us.
Dr. Carrillo started by saying that when he received my email stating Dr. Ou wanted to stop treatment, he was confused as to why he would say this. Dr. Carrillo said he thought maybe there had been a recent development in her body (she has had no recent scans) that he wasn't aware of, and cancer had progressed to a point where treatment wasn't an option. Mom has, in fact, been responding to the intracranial chemotherapy.
He said the only thing he can attribute it to is different philosophies; he believes in aggressively fighting cancers, and he believes there is a point to that. He said he has to hold on to hope, or he would not return to work each Monday. Furthermore, the cancer in her brain is currently stable, evidenced in the amount of proteins and sugars in her spinal fluid. Metastatic brain cancer is always a serious condition...there is no way around that, and it will not be cured. But Dr. Carrillo agrees there is a point to managing the cancer in her body, and that the two need to work together to keep it under control.
I walked back into Mom's place with a huge smile on my face and some reassuring words for her. Dr. Carrillo also understands and supports our efforts to change to a doctor who is more aligned with this philosophy. It's strange how in the span of a few hours, Mom's condition hasn't changed one bit, and yet we are all smiling again. The only thing that is different is the interpretation, and delivery of the exact same information from a different view-point and with a different style. It's far from a cure, but for right now, I'll take it!