In the interview “Medusa” Pavlenko said that he was doing this so that people would understand more about oncology and become less afraid of it.
– How did you know that you have cancer?
– I began to suffer pain in the stomach, especially if I did not have time to eat on time and even at night. Usually, these are symptoms of an ulcer or gastritis. Expecting to hear one of the two diagnoses, went to do a gastroscopy – and then asked the doctor to record video procedures on my disk. I looked at this record on my computer at home and saw that I had a tumor on my stomach. It extends to most of it, metastases have already gone in the circumference of the stomach. So I realized that I have an aggressive form of stomach cancer; a day later heard confirmation of this from colleagues. ADVERTISING
I immediately agreed on a computer tomography and found out that I already have at least a third stage. This means that, at best, I have a 35% chance to live another five years. That day I came home and said to my wife directly: “Anya, I have cancer.” From children, too, he did not make a secret: “My father has a tumor. Papa will treat her. ”
– Is it harder to hear such a diagnosis, if you are a doctor and clearly imagine all the consequences?
– When colleagues for the first time said that I have cancer, I have a shiver running through my body, a hot wave from head to toe, which is a shock. But by and large, within a few minutes, I came to my senses – and knew exactly what to do next. I think it is psychologically difficult for a doctor to find out about such a diagnosis, because he already saw with his own eyes all the complications, he talked with terminal patients, which means he clearly understands that he will face all this himself.
However, the more a person is informed about the options for effective treatment, the calmer it is. A well-informed patient, as a rule, is ready for all the difficulties that will await him on the way. Another question is that patients in Russia are very poorly informed. Doctors give patients half the time that they need it. On Friday, I found out my final diagnosis, and on Monday, at least three people with stomach cancer came to me from other doctors for a second appointment – they all vaguely represented their position and prospects.
– Do you completely entrust your treatment to colleagues or take part in it yourself?
– All tactical decisions that a patient must follow should be taken at a multidisciplinary commission. It should include chemotherapists, surgical oncologists, radiation therapists, morphologists and ray diagnosticians. Having weighed all the patient’s data well, they must take the decision that will be most effective for him.
However, the multidisciplinary commission, of which I am speaking, does not work in all cancer centers, even in good ones. Very often this standard is not fulfilled: surgeons pull the blanket on themselves and take the patient right away to themselves. Although it is sometimes necessary to first perform chemotherapy – as in my case.
Because I know all the standards of treatment and understand where it’s best to start, this commission very quickly held a meeting – only it happened in my head. I myself decided to start with chemotherapy. Later this decision was supported by many of my friends-surgeons and chemotherapists. Now I have already had my first chemotherapy.
– What treatment plan did you make yourself?
– I decided to first hold myself four chemotherapy and then only have an operation. In the third stage, in my case, it is impossible to start with surgery, since in this situation we will worsen the chances of survival of the patient. That is me myself.
– How did you choose the institution where you will be treated?
– I chose between two oncological institutions and stopped at where many of my friends and acquaintances work, – psychologically it is so much easier for me to undergo chemotherapy. Colleagues come to me in a friendly way, we communicate.
“What happened does not seem fair to you?”
“I will not deceive – I asked myself why I and why it is so early. But there are no answers to these questions. Cancer is simply a given, a fact that exists, and I have nothing to do with it. For all the time that I have been fighting cancer as a doctor, about two thousand patients have passed through me. Was it fair that this happened to them? Of course not. Would it have been better if some terrible terrorist had fallen ill with cancer? Probably. But the whole thing is that the cancer does not choose its victims, it just appears in the body – and one must somehow live with it. Self-discovery is a false path, it will only steal bits of time. It is better to accept the situation quickly and act.
Andrey Pavlenko with his family. Photo from the personal archive of Andrey Pavlenko
– What did you do right after you learned the diagnosis?
– I felt that with a pessimistic scenario, I had only two years to live. Therefore, first of all, I froze all my plans for many years and compiled a list of short-term goals. I have three children, the oldest daughter is 13 years old, the youngest one will turn one year old. The main thing for me now is the financial stability of my family. I want to close all the loans and make for them something like a bank account. A year and a half ago, I began to develop an oncology unit at the Pirogov High Medical Technologies Clinic in St. Petersburg State University. Now I have made good progress there in treating patients, and it is very important for me that this project does not stall. I have already taken a person to work there, who will be engaged in my direction, if – or when – I completely fall out. And I would like to get results within the framework of my scientific projects in the next few years.
And I decided to conduct a public blog about everything. And about what will happen to me, and about the problems of oncology in general. ADVERTISING
– Why did you decide to start this blog?
– I decided this on the third day after I was diagnosed. I am sure that the information for patients should be open, so I will talk about what I feel after chemotherapy, what to prepare for during aggressive chemotherapy, how to deal with complications. I myself had a few days ago started neutropenia – a complication after chemotherapy, which I suffered; I will tell you how to fight it.
I will also touch on the topic of early screening in the blog, which is very unpopular in Russia. This does not mean that he would help me avoid the disease: in my 39 years no one would have been screened for stomach cancer. But many elderly patients come to me, who probably would have avoided such complications if they had done screening before.
– Except for screening in the field of oncology there is still something to change?
– I really want to try to change the situation with the training of young surgeons. Modern young surgeons do not develop due to the [deteriorating every year] system of education, but in spite of it. If you take the average clinical resident, then almost none of them can do what they should. These people finish clinical residency in large cities, go to work in surgical departments in the regions – and it turns out that they only expand the cemetery there.
– What would you most like to tell people who have cancer?
– The Russians call the word “cancer” panic – people think that their life ends exactly the minute they learned about the disease. But the disease should not put a man on his knees, he must live his years and months with dignity. It is to live – not live, not exist, but live, you know? To live fully. This is the most wise thing that can be done in this situation, and the only true. Most of all, I probably would like to convey this idea. I would like people to treat cancer as simply a chronic illness.