Sunday, January 23, 2011
I've moved on from thinking about having cancer daily to less frequently, although it's now a significant part of my history. But the few days before check-ups and certainly the day of the check-up are always a little tense. The "what-if" sneaks back in. The possibility of recurrence becomes all too real. Chris and I (and Dr. Good Karma!) do a pretty good job of distracting me from dwelling on the check-ups with a little trick learned from Seamus's experience. When Seamus went to his oncology appointments the techs, doctors and receptionist at the center plied him with green doggie biscuits. Consequently, he loooooved going! To him the Veterinary Cancer Group was just the "handfuls of yummy biscuits" place. So when I have a check-up, now that I don't have 3 or 4 appointments in one day, we follow it up with a trip to the Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills and then dinner. This time we outdid ourselves--after the cheese shop we met Dr. Karam at the Los Angeles Art Show and then the 3 of us had dinner (not at the restaurant we had planned on...that one had a line down the block waiting to get in! You gotta love LA and its hip spots).
The news from the check-up was good on many levels. Because it's a "diagnostic" check-up, after the mammogram (and ow, wow, did this one hurt!) I sit in my highly fashionable men's boxer material gown and wait for the radiologist who then meets with me to go over the results in person, right there on the spot. And the radiologist was the very same Dr. Koo who did my ultrasound biopsy two years ago! You may remember her (or refresh your memory...or meet her for the first time...) in THIS post. She, like Dr. Karam, was brand new at the UCLA Medical Center at the time, but both are now busy, sophisticated, much sought-after specialists. It was nice to see her again and particularly so when she told me all was clear. And that soon I would be graduating. I get my annual mammogram (both breasts) in August...and then I'm on a yearly basis just like every other woman over the age of 40, and I'll no longer get the immediate in-person meeting with the radiologist. I'm returned to normalcy. Well, except for the part where I'll still see the oncologist every 6 months, but I believe that after my April appointment that will change as well--I'll be annual with him too.
I have mixed feelings about this. I'm happy to be returned to "normal." That should be the goal, right? But then again there is something comforting about knowing that every 3 months I'm either examined by an oncologist or a radiologist is looking at my mammogram. It makes me feel like if there is a recurrence we'll catch it early too. But, then, I have to remember it was me who caught it the first time. So, I know what I'm looking for. And perhaps Chris and I can venture out to the Cheese Shop just for the heck of it, no oncology appointment needed.
No sooner had I come to terms with this, and decided it was a good thing to not have recurrence on my mind, then I learned that one of my breast cancer blogging friends had passed away. Daria was originally diagnosed in 2000, had a recurrence in 2004 and then again in 2008 when she learned the cancer had metastasized to her liver and bones. She'd been undergoing treatment ever since and yet still blogged, still encouraged others (including me) when they underwent treatments, and stayed optimistic until the very end--which still seemed alarmingly quick to me. Her husband announced her passing on her blog--he know how many people followed her and how many people she had touched. For those of you who read the WomansDay.com article on breast cancer blogging, you will recognize Daria--she was also featured and her article was just above mine. She will be missed.
Sometimes, I'm just a little more aware of breast cancer than I want to be.
Posted by Teresa at 12:05 PM