Sunday, October 19, 2008

Andrew Novick

This afternoon as the girls and I drove to a friend's house for a jewelry party, Jim called. He was reading the newspaper, which I hadn't had time to do. He told me that Dr. Andrew Novick died.

When it was first suspected that I had cancer in my kidney, the community-hospital urologist I had seen recommended I go "downtown" to Cleveland Clinic right away. I scheduled an appointment with one of their urological surgeons. A good friend who works with the doctors at the Clinic really thought that I should be seeing Dr. Novick, the chairman of the Clinic's urological institute, rather than one of his staff, so she called his secretary. When she told the secretary my story (symptoms for several months, currently pregnant), the secretary agreed and got me an appointment with Dr. Novick himself.

Jim and I went together to see him. He immediately ordered a biopsy, and told us that in his career, he'd only had two other patients who were pregnant at the time of their diagnosis. He told us that the biopsy could come back inconclusive, which in his mind meant the tumor was malignant, and would need to be removed. This is exactly what happened - the biopsy was inconclusive. He had spoken to my obstetrician and they were in agreement that pregnancy or no, the kidney would have to come out. So Dr. Novick arranged for me to see one of his surgeons, Dr. Kaouk, that same day. Dr. Kaouk was concerned about my pregnancy but confident he could remove my kidney laparascopically. Because he didn't want to wait long for the surgery, both because of the cancer itself and because of my growing belly, he studied his schedule for some time, finally deciding he could fit me in first thing in the morning on the next Tuesday (five days from our consultation). Dr. Kaouk had trained under Dr. Novick, and so I felt comfortable that they would take good care of me. And so they did, and I became the third pregnant patient successfully treated for kidney cancer by/because of Dr. Novick.

A year later I ran into my reproductive endocrinologist, who had also been a high school classmate of mine. She told met that she had run into Dr. Novick, who told her that they'd had a patient in common... me. I was touched that he remembered me from the hundreds of patients he must have seen during that time.

It's horribly unfair that someone who saved so many lives affected by cancer would succumb to it himself. We know so much about the human body, and yet so little. Dr. Novick was only 60 years old. He was far too young to have left this world.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And then she was three

Earlier this month we celebrated Caroline's third birthday. Oh wait, according to her, the proper name is not Caroline, but Carly Bernadette. That insistence of hers that her name is what SHE defines it rather than what was actually given to her at birth is what makes her quintessentially Carly. Three is such a small number, but in terms of childhood, three is so different from two. Carly is an energetic, articulate, fun-loving girl. She has also spent the past several months as the textbook definition of a “terrible two”. Tantrums, insistence that "ME can do it myself", defiance, general bad behavior, you name it and she did it. Jim expressed hope that as of her birthday, she would magically return in demeanor to the sweet girl she was pre-age two. Her behavior while dressing on the morning of her birthday tossed that hope out the window. It took both of us to get her pants onto her body because she decided after she chose them, that she didn't want to get dressed.

On the other hand, as she's matured and developed a better vocabulary, she's been better able to express herself, so the tantrums have started to disappear. I'm not sure I've ever met someone with such a strong will before, but she is beginning to be more reasonable lately.

Carly LOVES to dance. At a recent wedding she was the first person on the dance floor, and stayed there all evening. She didn't care what genre of music was being played; she just wanted to move. She gets to dance formally every week, as she started ballet classes in September. Some weeks it's difficult for her to pay attention for the whole 45 minute class. But even with that, she is showing improvement. Her teacher is the most patient woman I've ever met, and just encourages her and the other girls to join the group. She loves going to class and dressing in her ballet outfit.

She and her sister get along well most of the time; they have arguments and tussles but love each other a lot. Becky is the bossy older sister, while Carly ignores her sister's directions and advice. If you have ever seen the kids' show Max and Ruby, Carly is Max to Becky's Ruby. But the other night I looked out to the living room as they watched TV and found them sitting on the couch together with Becky's arm around Carly.

Carly decided to become potty trained in time for her third birthday. I think her new school was a good influence; in her class the kids are all learning. She is now the proud owner of Blue's Clues underpants, which had been her promised reward (thank goodness for Ebay!) though now she prefers the Disney princess briefs that she also got. The photo at the top of the post shows her in a Tinkerbell dress; suddenly our rough-and-tumble girl loves dressing up in girly costumes.

She's become very loving lately, too, giving hugs and kisses frequently. One recent night at bedtime she told me that I am her best friend, and yesterday she told me several times "you're a nice girl, Mommy". I treasure this sweetness and am trying to store the memories of it to sustain me through her teenage years. :-)

It occurred to me recently that if my cancer had been discovered when I first started to show symptoms, that we wouldn't have Carly at all. Once my kidney was removed, I knew that getting pregnant again, given my age and other health "issues" would not be wise. I first knew something was wrong in August of 2004, and she was conceived in January 2005. Once I articulated for myself this reality, any lingering anger that I wasn't diagnosed sooner disappeared. You would think I would have had this epiphany a long time ago, and I think that I knew it subconsciously from the start, but only recently allowed myself to think it "out loud".

At any rate, she's really a joy in my life and I love her to distraction.