Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cancer...It's What We Do Here, Day 2

One of the girls that I grew up with in the Lehi 3rd Ward was at Huntsman a few days ago. After removing part of her kidney and a tumor she is cancer free and will not have to do any chemo or radiation treatment. I am so happy for her and her family. What amazing news! I am so grateful that my friend was able to get the help that she so desperately needed. So grateful that Huntsman Cancer Institute is in our own backyard. As I said a few days ago, they do amazing things there.

 And now for Day 2 of our Huntsman experience...

Huntsman Cancer Institute at 2000 Circle of Hope Drive Salt Lake City, Utah


On March 12th we loaded Mom up early and headed once again to Huntsman. They told us to be there early so we left Lehi around 6:00am. When we got to Huntsman all was quiet we pulled up to the lobby entrance to get Mom out. Mom and I started our walk to the elevators to go to Interventional Radiology on the 3rd floor. The building was quiet, calm, and peaceful that early in the morning. The reception desk wasn't open yet so we sat in the waiting area in the same spot we sat in the day before.

Shortly after 7:00am when the reception window opened something amazing happened. Patients and their caregivers came from all directions and lined up at the window. At one point I counted ten people in line waiting to check in and this was happening at reception desks throughout the building. All these people were here for the same reasons we were. They were hoping for a good day, a better quality of life, and in some cases a cure.

To see all these people lining up for care was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I watched many cancer patients and there caregivers walk down from the elevators to the reception desk and waiting area. While I witnessed all these brave patients and their compassionate caregivers I had the distinct  impression that angels walked the halls at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I truly believe that they do.

(Inside the lobby at Huntsman. This is the 2nd or 3rd floor)

So they called Mom back and got her settled and then we waited, and waited, and waited. We waited so long we felt ignored. There were five of us there to support Mom that day (me, Dad, Grandma Black, Grandpa Black, and my Uncle Wayne) so we would take turns going back to the area they had her in. At some point during the wait my Grandpa came out to get me and Dad. We hurried through the doors and down the hallway to my Mom's bedside. This is when we met Dr. Fafinski.

Dr. Fafinski was right out of an episode of Grey's Anatomy (and you know I love my Grey's Anatomy). He was everything you expect a world-class doctor to be. Handsome, confident (even a little bit cocky), with a dash a self-importance. He was the attending, the man in charge; the other doctors we had been talking to were mere residents. He came to tell us that due to the late start and Mom's allergy to the blue dye that they needed to inject her with to do a CT scan they would not be doing the procedure today. Not again! We waited while they decided whether to admit my mother for an overnight stay or not. Also Dr. Fafinski had not received any of the images from the previous CT scan (dome during Mom's stay at Timpanogas Regional Hospital) or the MRI that as done a few days before.

The next few hours were full of phone calls to Marlene (the oncologist's nurse). Where were the images? What releases did Mom need to sign to get the images? Could they get the images to Huntsman ASAP? There were also questions about getting her admitted to the hospital because Dr. Bott didn't have the authority to admit her to Hunstman. While Dad was on the phone with nurse Marlene, Dr. Fafinski was giving the nurses orders.

Dad was doing the best he could with the oncologist's office, but at some point Dr. Fafinski called them himself. He told Marlene exactly what he needed and also told her that he wanted to talk to Dr. Bott.
He told us he wanted to talk to Dr. Bott about this case. He said to Mom, "I want to know more about your case other than the fact that you have a giant turmor." I knew that this was Dr. Fafinski's way of saying that he cared. Although the day had been an absolute train wreck I knew we were good hands now.

So once again we were sent home, this time beat down and frustrated. But we weren't ready to give up yet.

To Be Continued...

You can learn more about Dr. Fafinski here:


  1. That sounds like a typical day. From the nursing side and having worked a small bit in oncology my worst days were always those with communication problems, and families having to wait and wait and wait. I often went home and cried those days because I never felt I had done enough to make things go smoothly for those patients. I'm sorry you all had to go through that, particularly your sweet mother. All you want is some kind of answers and where do we go from here. Keep posting these. I love reading about you and your mom. I hope you will publish this into a book for your family when you are done. It would be a treasure.

  2. Thanks Tanya. I remembered that you talked about making your blog posts into a book one time that we visited. I thought it was a great idea and I think that I will do it to share my blog with my grandpa who claims that he can't touch a computer or it will break.
    On another note, thanks for sharing your perspective as a nurse with me. Day 2 at Huntsman was a nightmare. Your perspective helps me make sense of it all.