Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Follow Up Appointment

I was back at the hospital a few days ago for my monthly lupron injection. I happened to notice some new reading material in the magazine rack. These were my choices:

“Living with Advanced Cancer”

“When Cancer Comes Back”

“Looking Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment”

Any idea which brochure I chose to read?

“ I will take ‘Looking Forward’ for $500, Alex.”

Which leads me to today’s post…

I saw my oncologist yesterday for my first follow up appointment since completing chemo. The appointment went well. She was pleased with how I handled chemo and felt quite certain that radiation would go just as well. We discussed hormonal therapy and agreed that I would start Tamoxifen as soon as I complete radiation.

Here’s the kicker… There is absolutely no way to tell if my cancer is going to come back. There are no tests to run, no indicators, nothing. I will have a mammogram every six months for the next couple of years. I will also see either my oncologist, my radiation oncologist or my radiologist once every three months. They are a tag team (or triumvirate) – one of them will see me and report back to the others.

Of course, I am to let my oncologist know if I experience any abnormal bone pain, difficulty breathing or headaches as these symptoms could indicate metastasis to my bones, lungs or brain. This is every breast cancer patient’s worst nightmare.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it every day. Some days are worse than others. When I talked to my sister about it, I explained that it was like background noise. It never goes away. Some days it is louder than others but it is never peaceful and quiet. The worry is always there. At least it is for me at this point.

My oncologist tried to be reassuring by telling me that I have done everything that is recommended and medically available in 2012. Then she told me the rest is up to me and I need to start looking forward. I need to get on with my life.

When I asked my husband for his take on the appointment, he said it was the best possible follow up appointment given my situation. And his 100% correct.

Still – there are no guarantees and that leaves me feeling very vulnerable.

I have a lot more to say on this subject but I will stop here. It is well past my bedtime!

Nite, nite.


  1. Hi Jen.

    You are feeling the same way every breast cancer patient feels. There are no guarantees but we have to try to move forward no matter how hard it is. We can't keep ourselves in a bubble just waiting for it to burst.

    I am glad you are doing so well and the 6 weeks of radiation will go fast and then by Spring you will be well on your way to enjoy the nice weather.


  2. Living with a cancer diagnosis is very much like living with background noise. You are so right! Some days it is louder than other days but it never goes away.

    Where's the white noise machine when you really need one?


  3. Hi Jen....happy to see you back blogging. Any sign of hair yet? None for me.
    I am having the same thoughts as you. A friend who was diagnosed exactly one year before me was doing great. She has been coaching me along. Last week, in a routine test, she found out it has gone to her bones. Scared the shit out of me. If it can happen to her, I guess that means it can happen to me.
    All we can do is take it one day at a time.
    Cancer Warrior

  4. The background noise will always be there, it does get quieter. You have done everything that you can. Good luck at radiation! You are getting closer!