Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rolling With the Punches

     Until today, this man has been my oncologist.  His name is Robinson Ortiz, MD and I credit him with saving my life.  Dr. Ortiz was the guy on-call the day I was admitted into the hospital, through the ER, for a metastatic disease work-up.  That was in December of 2012.  He was kind from the moment Wynn and I first met him.  He gave us terribly bad news, gently, so we could absorb the words he had to tell us.  

     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, many most 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?


Wanwan said...

Luna, such warm and heart-touching words for a doctor you owe so much. I'm sure he learned and received much from you, too!

Stacy Pettit said...

We are lucky to have doctors in our world who are so caring. Hugs Luna!

Denise Friesen said...

Praising God for gentle, super smart and intuitive doctors and that YOU got one of them! Thankful he's 'leaving' you first.

Thanks for blogging your journey!
love, denise

Mabel Romero said...

Hi Luna - I am one of Dr. Ortiz's patients. And, I feel the same exact way. I am going to miss him dearly. It's hard to find GREAT doctors like him. :)

Luna O. said...

Hi Mabel-, We were so lucky to have him as our doctor. I need to remember that my next doctor won't be the same, but could also be terrific. My fingers are crossed!

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Sam said...

Nice post..

Joana said...

Hi Luna,

I hope this finds you well. My name is Joana Mangune and I'm an editor at Health Monitor, where we produce magazines, guides and more on several different health conditions. I'm currently working on a piece for our Advanced Lung Cancer magazine and would love to set up an interview with you and hear more about your story and inspirational tips. Could you please email me at

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

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