As soon as it was established that I had non-small cell adenocarcinoma of the lung, Dr. Ortiz ordered genetic tumor testing for mutations in two genes known to cause the type of cancer I have. Based on my demographics, the chance that I'd have one of these was estimated to be 80-85%. I had neither.
Dr. Ortiz then recommended testing for mutations in a newly described gene called ROS1. Earlier in 2012, journal articles associating mutations in this gene with my kind of lung cancer were first published. Dr. Ortiz strongly encouraged me to test for ROS1 mutations because there was an available targeted oral chemotherapy. I was hesitant because I would need another biopsy, and the chance I'd have a ROS1 mutation, based on the studies he had read, was only 1%. Eventually, he talked me into it, I was found to have one, and the rest is history.
Dr. Ortiz is leaving clinical practice and, as sad as I am, I understand his decision. I even support his decision. Dr. Ortiz is a husband and father of four sons, under the age of 5. The youngest two are twins. He is taking a non-clinical position which will allow him to have more time with his wife and sons.
So here's what I have to say to Dr. Ortiz:
- You saved my life by testing my tumor for ROS1. Back then, testing for ROS1 was new, and 4+ years ago,
manymost oncologists weren't testing for it yet. But you did.
- You never let me down. Every question and concern I had, you responded to immediately.
- I'm certain that you took care of all of your patients like you took care of me, so I understand that there was little time for your family. You will never make the wrong decision when you prioritize them.
- Thank you for allowing me to feel like a partner in the management of my care.
- I am going to be just fine. I trust you and your referral to your partner, Dr. McKian.
- I wish you all the best and will miss you.
- And one last thing...I never thought you'd leave me. I thought, for sure, I'd leave you first...if you know what I mean. But, with your care, guidance, and wisdom, I've lived well beyond my expiration date. How can I THANK YOU enough?