In the course of my professional career I have sometimes been allowed to be present at an MDO (Multi Disciplinair Overleg = Multidisciplinary Consultation). During these medical specialists (surgeons, oncologists, radiologists etc.) meet to evaluate scans and blood values shown on large computer screens. Not only the cancer, but also the person afflicted is discussed, his/her age, general condition of health, social situation (e.g. 2,5 years ago she lost her husband) and his/her wishes. Aim: a carefully weighed medical judgment and a medically justified proposal for (the first steps of) a treatment plan. The first steps only, for ultimately – as I learnt then, and again with my strong beloved – it is no exact science; no one is able to predict the precise effect of such heavy medical treatment on the individual patient. 

Today I was one of the people on the MDO agenda. And waited for the advice.

On my request I received a telephone call straightaway:

  • As the spots in the lungs are too small to take a biopsy (a piece of tissue) from, they are not counted as metastases for the time being. In this reckoning the number of metastases is under 4, or ‘spread to a limited extent’. This means that everything possible will be done to cure me. 

And there is hope that this can be successful.

  • To get a better insight into what is going on in my bones, it is advised to take a biopsy from one of the two spots (metastases) in the breastbone. This intervention will be done in the department of day care and will take place within the next 7 days. On basis of the outcome the chemotherapy strategy can be made more effective. 
  • Therefore, the order of the provisional plan is:  first chemotherapy, then operation (amputation), then radiation and possibly another chemotherapy afterwards. 

My living room is filled with the delicious scent of many flowers, the kitchen drawer is filled with lovely chocolates, on my desk there is a considerable pile of lovely cards, and my mailbox and my phone overflow with lovely well-wishers. They are too numerous to answer all, but every single one gets my attention and they do me good.  And what is more: top professionals in the field of breast cancer of various academic hospitals are being consulted on my behalf, address the case ‘Ingebee’ and give their advice. 

As the saying goes: “It’s no picknick”, but I feel mightily supported.