8:38 AM. The biopsy results arrived this morning. They were delivered to his email via MyChart, the ubiquitous bearer of all medical news in 21st-century America. He forwarded a copy to me. The diagnosis, read by a pathologist, confirmed the earlier findings from the bone marrow biopsy: lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma.
He tells me the next step is a meeting with a committee of hematologists and oncologists who will examine his blood tests and earlier biopsy to determine how best to treat his form of leukemia. A committee? I don’t like committees. Having served, chaired, and still sitting on numerous committees, I have an inherent distrust of the deliberative process made manifest in committees, particularly church committees. Committees are one of the most dysfunctional means humans have found for making decisions. Putting human life into a committee’s hands is almost too dystopian to consider, especially when it’s happening to your father.
Do the members of this cancer committee get along with one another? How do their egos impact their decisions? Do they see their patients as people or just names on a page? Will they hold a vote on the right course of action? Are their votes determined by a simple majority, two-thirds of those present, or like a jury (since man’s life is at stake)? In other words, do their decisions need to be unanimous? Do family members have any voice in their process? They don’t answer those questions if you send the doctor a message via MyChart. So here I sit, in the waiting room called today.