The Fantastic Doctor Iyengar

The Fantastic Doctor Iyengar

Before we went to the appointment, we looked at his credentials, and they were very impressive. He is a biologist, a researcher, and a physician. He runs research programs and clinical trials for lung cancer patients. And he’s fantastic when it comes to patient communication.

When he walked into the exam room, he instantly put me at ease with his attitude. It’s a rare combination of optimism and realism that doesn’t come across as an act. I believe this is just who he is, 100% of the time.

We start talking about where I am, what we still need to know, and where we likely go from here. He’s thorough, funny with a dry sense of humor, engaging and unfiltered in his assessments, which makes him a perfect fit for me.

He explains that his focus is on radiation, which is a part of my overall treatment plan. He thinks that I will tolerate an aggressive regimen of concurrent radiation and chemotherapy, but tells me he’ll be disappointed in me if I can’t handle it with a grin. Perfect.

I ask him what goal of his treatment plan is. Cure? Control? Relieve symptoms? Without missing a beat, he says “cure.” He goes on to say that this could also mean treating it as a chronic condition, which means frequent scans and potentially more treatment if they see even a dot of cancer. Of course, I hope that’s not necessary and it simply goes into remission, but knowing that this man is fighting for me makes me feel very calm about the whole process.

So, as long as the brain MRI and the PET scan come back negative – meaning that it hasn’t spread beyond my right lung and a few lymph nodes in that area – that it would be Stage IIIa, and he would recommend the following treatment plan:

  • Radiation – 5x a week for six weeks
  • Chemotherapy – 1x a week for six weeks
  • Immunotherapy – Once every three weeks for a year

I ask about this versus surgery, and he explains that his recommended treatment has the same level of efficacy as surgery without the inherent dangers of cutting you open and removing part of your lung.

Next is the brain MRI, which to me is a big deal. I don’t want brain mets (mets is shorthand for metastasis).

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