Johns Hopkins is indeed a big bureaucracy, but seemingly a relatively well-organized, nimble one. We have been assigned a case manager, who already has the insurance approvals for the entire process lined up. The tentative schedule she laid out for us in a phone call today has the evaluation phase (the tests that will indicate whether or not I can take the punishment) beginning on November 16. The overall schedule pretty much swallows up the holiday season. We would have full days at the cancer center on both the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. I would get the big doses of chemotherapy drugs on December 14-15, with the infusion of stem cells collected earlier taking place on the 16th, which means that I would likely still be in the dangerous recovery phase on Christmas and New Year's Day.
Meanwhile, I was informed today that Penn has canceled the initial consultation that we had set for November 5, because the oncologist we were supposed to talk to will not be in the hospital that day, due to a change in his schedule. I am supposed to call back to reschedule, but at this point it seems likely that by the time we could get another appointment, we will already be too far down the road with Hopkins to make switching away from them feasible. So I think Penn has delayed itself out of the running.