Two weeks ago I saw my new oncologist here in Korea. I see a Korean oncologist at Dankook University Hospital. It is about a 30 minute drive from our house. I was a little nervous about seeing a Korean doctor. What if they can’t understand me? What if they don’t understand the notes from my previous oncologist? I had no idea what to expect.
I was surprised in a good way. The boys had to go with me on this trip because the husband had to go to work. When we got there we headed up to the International Clinic. It is basically a liaison for military members and their families. They signed me in and took me down to oncology immediately. Once down there I was introduced to the “do-it-yourself” intake process. Basically they have a weight/height/blood pressure machine where you get all the stats yourself. Then I walked over to the nurse, the liaison gave her my file and my stats and I was in line waiting to see the doctor. There were two people in front of me.
While we waited everyone wanted to talk to the boys. My kids are a source of entertainment for Koreans, young and old, everywhere we go. Two young nurses walked over and wanted to see Colby’s dimples. After about 20 minutes I was called in to see the doctor. He spoke English, hooray! He looked through my oncology file, made some notes and agreed with my treatment plan. He sent me off for blood tests and told me he’d see me in an hour.
I went and had my blood taken. There wasn’t a huge difference there except that there weren’t special chairs, I basically put my arm across a desk and took the blood. The gal who took my blood was awesome, one of the best phlebotomists I’ve ever had. While we waited on the results the boys and I had a snack and walked around the hospital. It was interesting that patients were everywhere, mingling with people who were there just for outpatient care. There are no hospital gowns, patients wore pajamas.
After an hour, I went back to my oncologist and he had my results. Everything was normal except for my white blood count, which was a little low, but he said not to worry about them. In fact my tumor markers had actually gone down! How awesome is that?! He told me to continue with the tamoxifen and to get that from my doctor at Camp Humphreys. He said he knows it isn’t standard care in the USA to have a PET/CT scan every year, but that in Korea that is how they do it and he wanted me to get one in October when I come for my next followup. Of course I was happy about that, just one more thing to verify that I’m still cancer free and the inside of my body was still healthy.
He did one thing that I absolutely loved and it was just a reminder of how considerate Koreans are in general. Instead of telling me how fat I was, this guy told me I had a high BMI. He also said that he noticed I gained a little weight (actually about 30 pounds) since my diagnosis last year. So, since the cancer was the reason for my increased BMI, now that I was cancer free, I needed to work on getting that number down. I told him I was trying and would have good progress before I saw him again in October.
It was a good trip, I was thankful that the cancer is still gone and I can focus on settling in here in Korea. I’m extremely grateful for all the prayers and positive thoughts. Keep ‘em coming!