Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Little Ol’ Cancer Treatment Update

When I last saw my oncologist in early May (post mastectomy surgery), he scheduled me for a follow-up visit in six months.

I looked at my calendar a couple days ago and noticed the appointment was coming up.  I thought, “Okay.  I know exactly what is going to happen.  I’m going to walk into the exam room and don the lovely, fabulous, flattering gown. Then the doctor will come in, shake my hand, ask how I am, spend four minutes with me, tell me everything looks fine, and proceed to charge me my $50 co-pay for the privilege of hearing what I already know.

I mean, I’ve seen my plastic surgeon eleventeebillion times this summer so it’s not like my progress isn’t being followed by a medical professional, or anything!

So I got it into my little head that I would just call the oncologist and cancel my  appointment with him.  No biggie, right? I’ve had my mastectomy, I’m cancer free, and so why, oh, why do I need to spend another $50 to go back to see him?

Turns out I have a lot to learn.

When I happily made my “I would like to cancel my appointment” speech, the receptionist said in her perkiest voice, “And when would you like to reschedule?”

I replied blithely, “I’m really not planning to reschedule.”

She said, “Well, just so you know, we’ll have to follow up in a week or so and get you back on the schedule for this appointment.”

I said, “Just out of curiosity, what does this appointment consist of?”

She said, “Well, the doctor will want to do a breast exam.”

Excuse me?  I have two silicone implants and I need a breast exam? What?  Are they looking for lumps? Silicone lumps? Do they think I’m going to get silicone cancer?!?

(Did I already say I have a lot to learn?)

As it turns out, my oncologist will want to see me every six months for a couple years and then every year for a while after that.  Having a mastectomy doesn’t mean you can’t get breast cancer in your chest wall or in other spots surrounding the area where ones embattled breasts used to reside.

So even though I am cancer free, I am not done with oncology visits and breast exams.

Plus, every 2-3 years, I will have to have an MRI to make sure the implants are doing well. (And we all know how much I love breast MRI’s.)

On the bright side, I was able to schedule both the oncology visit and the plastic surgeon visit for next Monday so at least I won’t have to make a separate trip.

I have just a few more visits (although no more surgeries) to go with the plastic surgeon before he and I are (temporarily) done.  But with my luck, he will also no doubt want to see me on a regular basis until I turn 102. 

Bottom line?   Breast cancer is never really “over.”  I had originally thought that once a woman has a mastectomy and gets rid of all that troublesome tissue, the doctors would lose all interest. 

Not so much.  It appears that my car will continue to follow its familiar route to Greenville for a long time to come.

Thankfully, Greenville has a Chick-Fil-A.  And a couple great thrift stores.

Guess I can’t complain.

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A few more pictures from Sunday night . . .

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4 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Lesley said...

It's probably a good thing that in the very beginning you did not know the total actual amount of surgeries and followups and MRIs that this breast cancer treatment and reconstruction would entail, because I think that would have seemed much too much overwhelming. Sometimes it's best to see just the picture right in front of you. It makes it easier to digest and handle. One bite at a time:) Even if it does seem like you will be chewing for the rest of your life -ha!

lifebythecreek said...

I agree with Lesley. That "lamp unto your feet" thing seems to work well here; just enough light for the step that you're on. I'm very thankful that you're receiving such great care....

Jenna said...

Becky,
I've had a hard couple of days, but somehow reading your blog always cheers me up a bit!

Yesterday, I had a difficult dr's appointment and so needed a moment to try to recombobulate myself (I learnt this word from you!). Sitting in my car in the hospital parkade I thought "hey maybe there's a new Smithellaneous post". So I pulled out my iPhone and found your blog and just reading your it calmed me a bit and helped me feel a bot more "normal" before I headed back on my way home.

So- thanks for creating this blog with your unique perspective on life ans your uplifting words!

Jenna

Anonymous said...

I hadn't really thought about it like that--the cancer never really being over. Sobering.

Yet I so admire your attitude in the midst of it all. You are a brave and great lady whom I will continue to try to emulate, as I have done my whole life!

Hope Steve puts his teeth back in the jar before we get there!

love deb