My Experience At The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center

OK, I’m not going to keep you in suspense my trip was very good. Dr. Liu and the staff that I met were very personable and compassionate. I also need to get an apology out of the way. I still have not summed up my experience at Excel Diagnostics where I got PRRT to treat my cancer. I will do that soon. πŸ™‚ I will try to include restaurants and such in the area. Also, I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged in a bit but getting to and from Denver was quite an effort. It literally wiped us out physically, mentally and financially! We are still doing laundry! πŸ˜€ So, here’s the low down on my experience at The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center … and Denver in General. πŸ™‚

Getting There

So, here’s how crazy it’s been for us. Originally, we had plane tickets to Excel Diagnostics in Texas to have a Gallium 68 scan but found out that my insurance was not going to pay for it. So, we had to cancel our travel plans AND our already purchased airline tickets. Now, did the airline simply give a refund? NOPE! They got my money and they weren’t giving it back! I find it amazing that they will beat somebody senseless and drag them off of a plane because they overbooked but won’t refund my money on an equally overbooked flight. That is some serious corporate greed going on there!

So, here we are with airline credits for tickets for the three of us but Lisa had no sick time left. Unfortunately, Lisa has to drive me around to my appointments quite a bit because they sap all of my energy! I cannot believe that laying on a flat bed and being scanned takes so much of my energy away! I really don’t get it but it does!!! Β So, unfortunately for the 3 of us, that is where all of Lisa’s vacation time goes. πŸ™ Β I wish it weren’t true. So, it took a year for her to build up enough time for us to go to Denver! Just as the credits for our airline tickets were about to expire! Literally to the day!!! Can you believe it?! Major stress!!!

So, we had a verbal commitment from Dr. Liu’s office and purchased the tickets “in faith” because we hadn’t gotten any paperwork confirming our appointment. I don’t know why but we were having a hard time getting an email confirmation. Probably, the busyness of the office is to blame but it sure caused us a lot of stress. Still, we eventually got the confirmation. Onward and upward! If you’re planning to fly to Denver for treatment look into flights early because we found only 1 or 2 flights going to Denver everyday.

Denver Airport

Plan ahead because Denver airport is huge! It’s one of those airports that has it’s own subway system and then shuttles you to your rental car. So, if traveling is difficult for you then be warned. Overall, the employees were helpful although some of the shuttle drivers are less than sensitive to people in wheel chairs. We had to practically beg for one guy to lower the ramp and then he wasn’t interested in helping us with the luggage. So, when I finally got on the bus with my cane, there were no seats! I was very lucky that somebody gave up their seat for me. God bless them. David paid them back by doing chin ups using the straps your supposed to hold onto hanging from the ceiling. They laughed out loud. That boy!

The Rental Car

So, we get to the counter to pick up our car and the guy says the cars not there but he will upgrade us for the same price. Lisa says, “Great!”. We were slotted to pay about $500…we got the bill and it was nearly $1,000.00 – now we need to call them. We don’t really need more paperwork or headaches! How can this stuff be legal? Really, Avis?

The Hotel

Admittedly, we were not prepared to go to Denver! Everything kind of happened very quickly and under the pressure of expiring airline credits. So, we did not select the best accommodations. We stayed at theΒ Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel. It was very expensive but very nice. Here is my “mini-review”. To be honest, I would not suggest staying there until construction is over. The construction did not bother us BUT I am sure it bothered somebody and they didn’t tell us about it when we were making travel plans! They provided free “white noise” generators and ear plugs but…??? seriously…??? Β So, minus 2 points for dishonesty!

I will say this, there were a few situations where they messed things up but they made good. First, Marriott lost our reservation! Completely. We were homeless for about 20 minutes! πŸ™‚ Β They upgraded us to the “presidential floors” and gave us a king size bed and a pull out couch for David which was fine and I feel that it was a very fair thing for them to do. We had reserved and room for disabled people with room for the wheelchair and a walk in / roll in shower. I have trouble stepping over the tub and holding on to things makes me feel safer when showering. πŸ™‚ Β The room they gave us had all of these things and it was the last one! Just what we needed, more stress! LOL – They also gave us free breakfast and free valet parking! BTW, Jerry who was parking our car was one of the only competent people there! That guy was on the ball and really helped us get settled. We tipped him well. πŸ™‚

So, here we are checking in and they ask for a credit card. Just to be clear, we were juggling money before we went to make this trip a possibility and so, we had to give them our debit card because our credit card was maxxed out. Well, what they don’t tell you is that they take full payment up front! So, they drained our bank account without telling us. Thank God we had overdraft protection! Also, there was an extra $250.00 on the bill. They take $50 a night as a “security” on the room in case you go all “rock star” and trash the room. Still, they never told us that either.

So, I log into my bank account and the balance is $0.00 and the overdraft protection is showing a balance! So, we call the front desk and then they explain everything and that the $250.00 will be returned at the end of our stay as long as it is in good condition. Um, how insane is that? Now, there was nothing wrong with the bill and we were able to shift money around again but I think telling people up front that you’re planning to take the entire sum out on the first night plus a security fee is kind of important. Very poor communication and management….but they were very nice about it. I can tell you this, that created quite a bit of stress for us. So be forewarned! πŸ™‚

I will say that, considering the money paid for these rooms, the lack of service was surprising. They did not make David’s little bed but only threw the sheets down on it. Also, we had to request a microwave and fridge both of which did not work. They did remedy that with working models but I was surprised that the “presidential floors” didn’t have a different vibe….but it worked out.

Also, you should know that there is supposed to be a restaurant at the hotel but there is only a little “pub” like thing off of the bar. It was OK but a bit overpriced and not designed for you to sit and eat a meal in comfort. All of the tables are funky and designed for you to sit and chat with your friends while sipping on something blue or purple with an umbrella or something! πŸ™‚ Β Not for a family meal. Still, we ate there a few times and we were happy with the quality of the food but it is expensive. Hotel food always is, right! πŸ™‚ So, I will say that we ordered room service and got better service from them than we did sitting at the pub itself. LOL. So, just a tip if you go here.

The pool was fun and one of David’s favorite parts of the whole trip! We splashed and played and goofed around. I will tell you this. Don’t use the indoor pool in the morning. It was cold!!!! πŸ˜€ We moved outside and the tiles literally burned our feet so we scrambled to the shade and scooted along the walls like escaping prisoners. Overall, the Marriott was a good experience but I hope to be listing more hotels in Denver for the future because woo-wee was that expensive!

Where To Eat

The first place we stopped and ate after checking in at our hotel was called “The Berkshire”. It’s a great little place where you can eat inside our out. We went there twice and on both instances ate inside. πŸ™‚ They have fried pickles on the menu that are insanely delicious. I had a cuban sandwhich the first time but we went back the second time for the pickles. The cuban was OK and the second time I had a pork chop on a little potato cake with gravy. The flavors reminded me of what you get with Sauerbraten. Very good. The second time we went everyone, EXCEPT ME, wanted to try something different from the fried pickles. We had chicharrones which in North Carolina they would call “cracklins” or “pig skin”. They sprinkled them with cheese but, I should’ve put my food down and gotten those pickles! πŸ˜€ Overall, it was a very nice restaurant!

We also tried to eat in Denver, close to Dr. Liu’s office. That is almost impossible because of the parking. We couldn’t find a single place to park. It’s a pretty big city so, finding parking is pretty rough. We ended up eating at the Downtown Aquarium’s Restaurant. They promise a discount if you eat at the restaurant…only for dinner. I didn’t see that any where but that’s what they said. Kind of annoying. Any how, the food was OK and the prices were very high. I would avoid that if you can. It’s a typical “tourist trap” kind of restaurant but there was an entire wall of fish that enthralled David so, not all bad. πŸ™‚

We also ate at the Garden of the gods restaurant which is really just a snack bar. We just had hot dogs but yeah… pricey! πŸ˜€ Again, that was to be expected. Oh yeah, we ate at the top of the sky tram. $30.00 for 3 hot dogs, 3 sodas, a bag of chips, a brownie and a chocolate croissant. Hey, they got you trapped on the top of a mountain so, the prices are high! πŸ˜€

Things To Do In Denver And Near Denver

Our first day trip was to the Garden of the gods. What a beautiful place. They offer all kinds of tours! They offer a tour on this cute little trolley and they also offer tours on Segways but David was too young. He was so disappointed! πŸ™‚ Still, we chose a tour that had everything AND it included “off roading”!!! That made up for everything! David had a blast and I “squished” him on every tight turn! πŸ˜€ Β The tour took you to a “castle” built on the grounds, up into the mountains and then off roading and finally through the town. It was really nice! It’s all done in a jeep that is basically “open air”. There are no windows. Only a bit of plastic and some roll bars. So, it was pretty funny when it started to rain at the end of the tour! There was another little boy on the trip and they two of them were hysterical. We all laughed. It was great. πŸ™‚

The Downtown Aquarium

The downtown aquarium looks amazing from the outside but to be honest, I think it was a bit expensive for what you really get. It’s a pretty small little aquarium and they charge you for every single thing you do. We paid for the “whole” experience which included feeding the rays at the end but guess what? They charge you for the food! In fact, they charge you for every single thing once you’ve purchased your tickets. We ate at the restaurant and that was fairly pricey as well. We had fun but I think we would’ve chosen a different way to spend that day if we had known the price. Oh, and David, being a kid was not interested in what was in front of him but only what was around the corner! So, we kind of rushed through it – LOL !!!

The Sky Tram

We did take one added trip to the sky tram. It was a blast! Up you go to the top of the mountain in less than 5 minutes! I will say this though, you might experience altitude sickness! Lisa did. David and I were alright but once we got up there, Lisa was out of breath and nauseous. I gave her a coke and a bite to eat and that helped quite a bit. When we got to the bottom she was fine again so, heed the warnings! πŸ™‚

We never got to see the Cog Railway because it is so popular! It was pretty much sold out from the moment we got there! So, if you want to go on this day trip you should consider calling them very early in your visit. πŸ™‚

My Experience At The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center

So, yes the rumors are true. Dr. Liu is nice πŸ™‚Β  ha ha ha! His office is filled with zebra things and he has a little a little treasure trove of candy on his desk. πŸ˜€Β  I even heard that there is a little fridge with pudding for the patients but nobody gave me any! Boo-hoo!!! πŸ™‚Β  The truth be told, I was very happy for the chairs in the waiting room. Running around in Denver takes it’s toll even when you’re healthy! I was very tired when we were there. I will say this, less tired than I thought I would be!

So, we arrived using our GPS and it was fairly easy to get to. There were no crazy turns but it is in the city so, there’s quite a bit of “one way” roads in the vicinity. There’s also quite a bit of traffic. Denver was surprisingly larger than I was expecting. I’ve gotten used to living in North Carolina. Raleigh is not as big. Although Manhattan, which I hear they are now calling a “Mega City” is much larger. The building was smaller than I though but I liked that. It felt less commercial and friendly. We filled out the obligatory new patient paperwork and waited. In the interim, Donny from the insurance department took time to sit with us and discuss everything and off assistance in the future if my insurance company decided to do give me trouble. What a great guy. We went into the back and waited a bit more, they took my vitals and then we went to a small examining room. After a short medical interview we met with Doctor Liu. πŸ™‚

Dr. Liu is such a nice guy and I am so happy that I had a chance to meet with him. πŸ™‚ He didn’t recommend anything radical and suggested that we wait for the PRRT to stop working. Ug, sooner or later my tumors will start growing again. He said that there are more medicines and other procedures and asked for my MRI scans just in case surgery was an option. I have a feeling it won’t be but, hey…you never know! It took quite a lot of work to finally connect with a specialist but it’s finally happened. You have no idea as to how thankful I am. It was a bit depressing. I was hoping for “a fix” but deep down knew it was unrealistic. I get this way after I see the doctor. To be honest, I’m still depressed but, I’m sure I’ll shake it off.

One interesting fact was that he said that I obviously have some sort of “syndrome” but not the typical syndrome. How true is that of my life. Rare cancer, rare aneurysm and now I have a rare syndrome. Perfect. πŸ˜› He basically said that carcinoid syndrome is typically thought of as flushing and diarrhea but it’s a bit more complicated than that and that I obviously had some type of syndrome going on. I always thought that I did but I don’t have the chemical markers. This is how I roll. I gotta be the weird one! πŸ˜€

As you you can see, Dr. Liu’s office is filled with Zebra stuff and he has quite a bit of candy sitting on his desk. David was a bit hyper when we left. πŸ˜€ He was such a good boy but the two of us still teased him about not getting any candy! πŸ˜€Β  So funny! He’s as bad as me. πŸ™‚ Yes, we took the required picture for Facebook but I though I might raise the bar and do a short video with him! ha ha ha!!! He loved the idea and is such a good sport.

I will keep you posted,
Ed – To use my images on your blog for free – Click Here
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  1. Love that little boy you’ve got there Ed. He will always remember those good times. Did you try NIH for a Scan? They still had some slots a year or two ago and they were completely free. They are in Bethesda MD. They also reimburse for travel and food. Your US tax dollars at work. All the Smithsonian museums are free which might be fun for David too. I’m not sure if you had to be a newbie to qualify for the imaging. But you can check them out and see if they have any new studies open that might be of interest for you if the older study is closed.

  2. Sounds like it was a bit of an epic getting there, but definitely worth itπŸ˜ƒ You can get to most places in the uk in a day, so it constantly amazes me how far you guys have to travel sometimes.

    • Yes, an adventure … but memorable and some really nice memories as well as bad ones. πŸ™‚ America is so huge… I wish I could spend time just seeing all of it. πŸ™‚

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