Me & Grand Girl, Molly
Hello campers! It seems I am visiting here now about as often as I do my docs at MDA! Truth is, I'm feeling so much better that, for the most part I consider this whole cancer episode D.O.N.E! The only time I really give it much thought is when I cross the elevator threshold downtown in the Mays building of M. D. Anderson. (OR when I am cursing the effects of my nemesis "savior", Tamoxifen.")
This past summer, my surgery anniversaries came and went: June 28 and July 8. Next month, my third surgery anniversary, Oct. 14, is coming up. Two years and I still have tenderness, soreness sometimes and weird, achy numbness although that is much improved. I need to see the physical therapist soon to be fitted for a lymphedema sleeve. I avoided it early on and since I got conflicting information from my doctors, I chose to believe the one that said it wasn't necessary. Turns out .. it is.
I can honestly say that I didn't feel fully free of the chemo until June of this year. Sure, my hair came back, my toenails stopped turning black and turning loose (only three, not all), my neuropathy improved somewhat, but there was this ongoing feeling of unwellness that stuck much longer than I anticipated. My nurse practictioner said last week that window of time is completely "normal".
Normal - it's all a "new" normal.
It's normal to be anxious prior to any kind of visit now. Now, when all the "bad" stuff is behind me, my heart rate jumps when I'm in a closed room with an exam table, posters of human anatomy and a clean folded gown staring me down. I had my "Well Woman" exam last week at the Cancer Prevention Center at MDA. Because of my required Tamoxifen (which is known to provide an elevated risk of uterine cancer) and my being a DES daughter (a drug given to women in the 50's to prevent miscarriage), my medical team is keeping a close watch on the health of all my girl parts.
Last time, the lining of my uterus was thicker than it should have been, given my new, post-menopausal state. It was apparently cause for alarm and all the bells and whistles went off. Thankfully, all of the other tests came back within normal perameters and the sirens finally stopped blaring. I have every confidence that this test will pass as "healthy" too. I'm not borrowing trouble until it's packed its bag and is knocking on my door.
That doesn't mean I didn't get a little nervous .. and my heart rate was questioned by two nurses and my NP. During the visit it came down from 103 to 92 beats per minute and I explained it away with the long walk in and the Starbucks coffee I downed just before checking in.
So now we wait for the "all clear down below" letter. And we count the days and calculate how many pounds we can legitimately lose (or not gain) until my Oncology visit in November. Bloodwork, bone scan, Mammo and Ultrasound. I'd love to hear my Oncologist say that I can safely stop the Tamoxifen but I doubt she'll cave to my whining about bone aches, ridiculous weight gain (on baked chicken & salad, gimme a break!), cramps all over my body, swelling, pimples, dry skin, (heard enough?). I have three more years to complete the recommended round of five.
Party. November. 2016. Be there.