I get asked “Why Tampa?” a lot. Why would we want to travel all the way down to Tampa when we could just drive to Emory which is a much shorter 45 minute or 1 hour drive? Reason #1, my doctor only sees neuroendocrine patients. You have to have proof that you have a neuroendocrine tumor before he will even see you. So my Emory oncologist specializes in gastrointestinal cancer, but my Tampa doctor specializes even more by only seeing my specific type of cancer. That alone is reason enough, but reasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are as follows.
When you arrive at Moffitt which is on the University of South Florida campus, you pull up to a free valet. Free. It’s nice to pull right up and you are then 20 steps away from the lab work room. You sign in for your lab work and get a pager. The pager buzzes and tells you which lab work bay to report to in order to get your blood drawn. The longest I’ve ever had to wait was 20 minutes, and that was rare. Usually it is less than 10 minutes. After blood work, I go up the elevator to floor 3 to check in for my CT scan. Again, you are given a pager and when it buzzes a clerk gets all of your information and you’re signed in. Next, your pager buzzes for you to report to a podium (which Mike argues that it is a lectern, not a podium) and a nice nurse tech brings you out your “fabulous” orange cocktail to get your contrast started. You drink each 16oz drink over 3 sets of 30 minutes. During your drink session your pager will buzz again to call you back to get your IV started. If your CT scan is scheduled for 2:30, then you started your orange cocktail at 1pm…on the dot…so you can drink your drink for the allotted 1.5 hours and begin your scan at a prompt 2:30. No “your appointment is at 2, but we’re going to make you wait until 2:45 to get you started.” Isn’t that frustrating, when you have an appointment, you get there on time or ahead of time and then just sit and wait…and wait…and wait?! Meanwhile, your anxiety is building just waiting to know your results, having to wait around just makes it unbearable. Any who, your pager buzzes again and sends you back to perform your CT scan. It’s a quick, set you up on the “table,” flush your IV, do one round of scans, flush the IV again and then inject the contrast, one more round of scans, and you are done. The whole CT scan process takes 15 minutes. Once your scan is complete, you head to your follow up appointment with your doctor. Moffitt is all inclusive and efficient. They make all of my appointments on the same day in a back to back manner, so there is little wait time. It’s nice to go somewhere that respects your time, understands that we fly in for these visits, so it is helpful to be seen all in one day’s time. Once you finish your appointment, they send you to check out where you set up your next appointment(s). Before you leave, you know when you’re returning! When I’m at Emory, that is not the case. I have to call to get an appointment, speak to someone where they tell me they’ll pass the message to my doctor and their nurses…the nurse calls and says, “I got a message saying you need an appointment for blah blah blah,” when you confirm, then they say, “great! We’ll call you when we have that set up.” Well…typically I don’t hear from them at all. The way I know I have an appointment is because I’ve looked on the portal and discovered I’ve been scheduled. If you want me to just look on the portal, then fine…tell me “we’ll get you set up. In 2 days, check the portal, and if that time doesn’t work for you, then be in touch.”
So, does Emory do a good job? yes. They have a huge organization with amazing doctors that are so kind to be our “in betweeners” while we visit Tampa every 4 months. They just don’t have as smooth of a process as Moffitt does. When you are going through cancer, you really come to value when extra stress can be removed. You’ve got enough going on…let’s make something as easy as possible.
So, why Tampa? They make it less stressful. They value my time. They specialize in my cancer. I will continue to fly down there, fly in and fly out in a day’s time if it means Moffitt keeps knocking this nonsense out. I’m thankful we found this place, and I’d encourage others to check it out as well.
And in case you read my last blog post, I’m happy to report that I did it. I ran a mile today! Boo-yah! It felt good! Mile 2, I’m coming for ya!