I saw my oncologist last week and he confirmed the report I received in August: my latest mammogram was clear. I’d have preferred a diagnostic mammo along with an ultrasound, but the university’s protocol says that at this point — 5 ½ years post surgery — I’m back to just screening mammograms (which, I can’t help remembering, did not show my tumor).
There was no mention of extending my letrozole treatment for another two years, and I’d already decided I didn’t want to. It could possibly threaten my bone strength and bring back hot flashes and hair loss. Too much risk for too little gain, I’d decided.
He said to come back in a year, instead of the previous 6-month intervals, and I’ll get a bone scan then.
So it seems that, essentially, I’ve been cut loose by my oncologist. It’s my life again … and the PCP’s … and the ophthalmologist’s … and whoever else comes along.
This is Mercy, a healer in the video game “Overwatch,” which I played quite a bit last winter. However, the story here is that the pink skin/outfit she’s wearing was a special fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Players usually earn new skins for their characters by playing the game. But the only way to get the pink Mercy skin was to pay $15 cash. There was also a limited edition t-shirt available for $30. The minute I read that 100% of the proceeds from the skin would go to the BCRF, I jumped back into the game and bought it. How many fundraisers have you heard of that give 100% of the donations to the charity? I couldn’t NOT be a part of it. Continue reading →
Two years ago, on May 20, 2015, I had my lumpectomy. That was followed with 4 rounds of chemo, 3 weeks apart, and 33 radiation treatments. After that, and after getting rid of a stubborn, gut-busting cough, I started 5 years of hormonal treatment (it should be called anti-hormone treatment).
Just pausing to note that I saw my oncologist a few days ago for my once-every-4-months checkup. Got some reassurance on a few things:
As I’d read in many places, occasional twinges or stabs in my left breast are normal healing and could continue for some time. If cancer were to recur, it would be elsewhere, outside the area that was treated (ie, somewhere other than the left side of my chest).
Note: I first published this on my primary blog in May 2013. It occurred to me that Curves is an even more relevant venue (although I had only a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy). Unbelievably, even a lot of women who’ve had a mastectomy still mispronounce it.
I remember my cancer was diagnosed in April, a year ago. Maybe my birthday being in April makes it even more notable. But until I looked just now, I couldn’t remember the exact date I got the diagnosis:
April 23, 2015
So, it was slightly more than a year ago. And here I am. Still alive and kicking, albeit not as energetically as back then. Sure, there are days, many days, when I fret because I’m still so tired, or unenthusiastic, or my fingers ache, or something else.
As I reported last week, my Mediport was removed without incident. The Steri Strips haven’t come off yet but everything’s been going well, with virtually no soreness or discomfort. The bruising is gone and so is the irritation caused by the waterproof Tegaderm (or something like it) dressing. That adhesive sticks like superglue and really tears up my skin. My oncologist’s nurse knows not to use it on me, but I didn’t think to mention it to anyone last week, so there it was. As careful as I was removing it — by the book as best I could — I still ended up with a 4-inch-long blistered welt along its bottom edge. Took it about a week to heal, and it stung more than the incision.
We’ve been hearing for most of a week now that a big storm is due in on or about Monday. It’s been dubbed Winter Storm Kayla and the forecasters now agree the snow will begin tomorrow night and continue through Monday, with accumulation of up to 12″ (16″ in one forecast) here in Denver. That’s a lot more than we usually get at one time.
What does the expression “cancer survivor” mean to you? Different people mean different things when they use the term, and I’m still pondering which if any of them describes me.
The broadest definition, from the National Cancer Institute: “The term cancer survivor includes anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life.”
Many cancer patients want to know how fast their hair will grow back after chemo, so I thought I’d post a progress photo. This is what my hair looks like now — exactly four months and one day after my last chemo treatment, or about three and a half months since I shaved it down to 1/4″.