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.
A few more pictures from Sunday night . . .