The next step on this journey was to seek out a second opinion. My wife had a friend who’s mother was treated for cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Tulsa. She had nothing but positive things to say about the place. I had seen the commercials on television about CTCA, but thought it would be too expensive. My wife called them and talked with a representative. The next step was for the two of us to talk to a representative over the phone. We spoke with this person for about 30 minutes. She answered every objection that I could throw at her. I was shocked to find out that the center pays for the patient and caregivers’ airfare for the initial consultation visit. They also had discounted lodging for patients and caregivers. We were also told that the oncologist I would be seeing did an outpatient treatment of Interleukin 2 (IL-2). So we decided to take the trip out to Goodyear, Arizona for a second opinion consultation visit.
We took the flight to the Phoenix area during the first week of February of 2014. Upon arriving at the airport, we were greeted in the baggage claim area by our driver from the center. He took our luggage and walked us out to the stretch limousine that was waiting to take us to the center. I was already impressed. The drive took about 20 minutes to get to the cancer center. Upon arriving to the center we were given a tour of the facility and shown where we would check in for appointments. Then the driver took us to the hotel we would call home for a while which was located across the street from the center.
On our first day at the center we filled out several documents, met with the financial counselor for our insurance arrangements, and met with the intake doctor to review my medical records. We ate our meals in the cafe at the center. The food was delicious and the prices were cheap. Patients and caregivers get a large discount. We also met with a couple from Cancer Fighters. This is a support group for patients that was started at CTCA, and we signed up right away. During the next couple of days we explored the local area for shops and restaurants in between appointments at the center. At the end of the first week we got to meet my oncologist, Dr. Walter Quan Jr. and the rest of my potential care team. Dr. Quan shared with me his evaluation of my condition and recommended starting outpatient treatment with Interleukin-2 (IL-2). My wife and I discussed this for a few moments and decided to go ahead and begin treatment at CTCA.
The second week at CTCA began with having a procedure to place a PowerPort in my upper chest area. This would make it easier to perform any blood tests and infusion treatments. I would also have a bronchoscopy procedure performed by Dr. J. Francis Turner to check on the extent of the mass in the hilar area of my right lung. Finally, on Wednesday of week 2, I began receiving my first dose of IL-2. The first day I showed no negative side effects from the treatment. However, on the second treatment I had several side effects that included, rigors, headache, and nausea. The nursing team reacted quickly and gave some medications to eliminate these side effects. After 3 days of treatment we were allowed to fly home and would return after 2 weeks of recovery.