We flew down to Houston on New Year's night for my follow-up with Dr. Mansfield at MD Anderson on January 2. It was surreal walking into the room at the Rotary House, the hotel adjacent to MD Anderson. We've stayed there for previous follow-up appointments, but I don't recall feeling the same way I felt this time. Maybe it's just that I am doing so well, I feel so removed from when we were there nearly three years ago for my surgery. I flashed back to then, being there the night before surgery and facing the fear and the unknown. I flashed back to being there recovering after surgery, not knowing what to do, not knowing how to begin life without a stomach, throwing up in the bathroom sink....it all came rushing back to me. Keith had some of the same emotions as he commented that he saw me as more fragile in that space.
We went over early on Thursday for my blood draw appointment to increase the likelihood of them actually having the results before my appointment. Dr. Mansfield was also running behind so they had all the results except one at the beginning of the appointment and got that one before we were done. I was within normal range on everything. My B12 count was normal, but at the low end of normal. They suggested I increase my dosage to two sublingual tablets a day instead of just one. They also recommended getting a bone density scan done as they like to do that around 3 years after total gastrectomy, which is coming up soon. But that can be done in Kansas City with my primary care doctor. I will also want to continue having blood work monitored annually, but that can all be done up here. I'm done with follow-up visits to MD Anderson.
Four years ago I had never been to Houston. Now, 9 visits later, it was time to say goodbye.
I was excited to learn that Dr. Mansfield and a team from MD Anderson is doing a research study to put together a CDH1 Gene Registry to track those with the gene mutation and their medical information, family history, etc. Hopefully, through this research, they will be able to learn more and eventually people with the mutation will have more information and more options when determining whether or not to have a total gastrectomy. One of the most frustrating things when I was first diagnosed was that there was very little information available. I am thrilled to be a very small part of changing that. With this study, they will continue to be updated on my medical history and be in touch with me yearly for up to 11 years, but there is still no need to return to MD Anderson for follow-up.
So, GOODBYE HOUSTON!