Occasionally, as Marilyn and I traveled the 1806 miles from our home to Columbus, Ohio to see Dr. John Byrd, I wondered if it was worth it. The United States is a big country, and the time away from our business and the expense of travel, as well as that of the appointment, was racking up dollars to match the miles.
Making it brief -- we are still mid-trip, visiting family and friends -- the answer to "was it worth it" is an unequivocal "yes." Dr. Byrd, for those who don't know, works at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University and is one of the leading CLL researchers/doctors in the world. He is very busy, but he had taken the time to familiarize himself with my medical history, as well as the questions and concerns I had posed in my two-page cover letter. He had obviously given some thought to my case.
Dr. Byrd lives and breathes CLL, knows the facts and nuances like the back of his hand, and has a command of where things stand and where they might go, both for me personally and CLL research in general. During our hour, he spoke directly and succinctly to me as an adult, and I felt comfortable with his sense of judgment. There was no pressure to join any clinical trials, no "cover your ass" suggestions, just an honest give and take.
Like me, Dr. Byrd is a conservative when it comes to treatment. He gave me a few things to think about, which I will continue to mull over in the miles returning home through Tulsa and Tucumcari. My visit may lead to a changed perspective, in some ways. Certainly there are a couple of surprising new entrants and changes in the treatment beauty pageant (see my earlier post "Here they come . . .")
As much as my visit was enlightening, it was also humbling. No matter how much we patients may try to learn, to finesses the choices, to balance the options, there is no substitute for having a doctor to work with who has the expertise and quality of judgment to help guide us through the maze.
If I may paraphrase the MasterCard commercial:
The cost of a tank of gas for a Toyota Prius: $27.
One night at the Best Western Suites in Columbus, Ohio: $70.
A CLL expert who knows what he's talking about with the wisdom to apply it properly: Priceless.
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