Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I had my six month follow up appointment with my surgeon yesterday. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy going back to the cancer center. I was rattled to the core. It seems in the past couple of months, I have been able to think of other things besides the "C" word now and again, and it has been nice. Walking back in there brought back raw fear as if it were just yesterday when I was diagnosed.

I kept talking to myself about the fact that the surgery is over, the radiation is over, and now it is just surveillance. My rational mind knew that, but it wasn't informing the small quivering child within. It decided to keep it on a level that couldn't be reached for awhile. As I drove over to the center, I marveled at my ability to shake and shiver and still drive quite well. I hadn't forgotten the way in the past few months. I had however, gotten a new smaller car, so the drive was a bit more fun. The new car is more sporty and not so grandmotherly. Maybe that was the result of some latent need to feel young and carefree?

As I arrived, I pulled right into the valet parking lane, and turned my fob over like an old pro. I managed to hold the door and the elevator for a woman with a walker. She and I visited on the way up, and I welcomed her warmth and good humor. When I approached the registration desk, they were ready with the dreaded hospital bracelet and page of stickers. I knew the routine. I also knew the volunteers would soon be offering me a cup of tea or whatever I wanted to drink. They are so soothing and caring. It helps.

I waited to be called in, and noted when I had to get on the scale that I had worn my heaviest pair of shoes and a sweater. I was hoping to be down at least ten more pounds by my six month follow up. Not the case. I didn't even ask what my blood pressure was, as the nurse took it. I didn't want to know. I had no problems to report. I was a little worried about an area of hard tissue under my incision, but I would address that with my doctor.

I didn't have to wait long for her to arrive. I had opted to slouch in the chair to wait for her instead of sitting on the backless exam table. I was doing my best slouch, when I heard her knock at the door. She entered the room wearing a stylish herringbone wool jacket instead of her usual white coat. That put me at ease instantly. She also had a smile on her face and she looked into my eyes as we spoke.

Our previous encounters before my surgery and just afterward were neither warm or cordial. I thought it was her demeanor, but now I wonder if it was mine, or maybe a combination of a very concerned professional who wanted to do her best job, and a very scared patient. Nonetheless, we had a very nice visit.

She examined me thoroughly on both sides from every angle and told me that she found absolutely no areas of concern. She had the results of my recent labs and she was pleased I was taking vitamin D and was on track with my thyroid medications. We talked a bit more about my plans for follow up with my medical oncologist (I have been dreading that one too).

I was surprised that from this point on, I would only be seeing her at the same time I get my yearly mammogram. It reassured me that I wouldn't have to be monitored as closely as I feared I might.

I don't know if I will ever get used to the idea that I have had breast cancer, but I feel more accepting of it now. I don't wake up every morning in a cold sweat with my heart pumping hard and fast. Some days I can even sleep in. I will never take my health for granted again. I will do what I need to, in order to keep on top of things. I even have a colonoscopy scheduled, and I am not really sweating it. I guess we could call that progress!


Jennie said...

Thanks, Gigi, for opening your heart to readers and sharing this scary journey. And what a grand Christmas gift---the peace of knowing you're in good health.

Scarlet Begonia said...

You have come such a long way!! I am so proud of how you handled all of this journey. You have inspired me to change things in my life that needed changing. If and when I have to hear the dreaded "C" word in my life, I will panic, cry, take a few days and hopefully I will have you by my side and face the plan that "I" choose the way you did. You are my hero!! I love you and am so happy you are my sister.
Merry, Merry Christmas and Happy, Happy New Year.
Let's celebrate with a sunny warm vacation this winter!
Love you Sis!!

Nancy said...

How very "human" your feelings about your check-up were. I'm glad you wrote about them. It would be so helpful for anyone going through this same experience, or knowing someone who is. A spcial gift for Christmas--all clear!