Between an insane amount of doctor appointments; my sister being back in town (thank goodness as I have missed her so); and trying to have a sense of normalcy to my home life, recovery has been hardly relaxing. Even on the days that I think I can catch up on work or some rest, something pertaining to this stupid cancer comes up. It really has put so many things in my life on hold and has become priority over many other things that I thought were so important before all this started.
Last Friday I had my PET ct scan. They all have been scary tests but so far, this was the scariest. I didn’t really know what to expect. I arrived with my sister at the hospital to the nuclear medicine department. Little did we know that my sister being 20 weeks pregnant (which is very exciting) would be an issue but clearly it was a problem for them. They advised that she could not even be in the waiting room as the injection they give me and all the patients in that area is radioactive. Not off to a good start. My sister had been forced to leave the area and we were advised that I shouldn’t drive in the car with her either. Over reactive, maybe but who wants to take that chance. Not me! Great, so now I am flying solo. No big deal as once you go in the back room, nobody would be able to be with me anyway. It’s just nice knowing someone is there waiting. So they inject this radioactive die/glucose mixture into me and then stick me in a room to lay down for an hour while I wait for this mixture to go through my system and attach itself to any possible cancer cells. Hmm, how to find that happy place now? That was hard but I had to, this was the time to really use some positive energy. I mediated and said to myself, there is nothing for you to attach to as there is not any more cancer in my body…keep moving. The next step was the scan which compared to the MRI was peaceful and quiet and only took 25 minutes. The test was complete and now I had to wait until Monday for the results...
The weekend was well spent for the most part but was busy. I did manage to rest as I have no choice these days. My body demands it and I have to listen. Sunday evening was when I called Dr. B. I had an odd split in one of my already closed surgical sights. It was red and well, it didn’t look right. She met me over at her office that evening. Have I mentioned that I have the best doctors? Well I do. Dr B did not want me to worry all night and I would have. G mentioned that if this was a gash in my leg from riding my mountain bike I would not have thought anything of it but he too encouraged me to make the call. Amazing how different it is when the cost of infection is much greater. It is minor at this point but it will slow down a few things for me. Not only is my treatment going to be on hold until this heals but this means that some of the fluid that they put in my temporary implants (they are called tissue expanders and they help get my body ready for the real implants) had to be taken out. I thought I would care that they had to do this but frankly, I just didn’t. This too shall pass and I will be refilled when my body can handle it. For precaution sake, Dr B would like to see me every day to change the dressing and make sure it is healing. Regardless of the fact that I left her office after 9 pm that night, she wanted to see me first thing Monday morning.
Monday morning came quick and my mother and I started our very long day of appointments at 7:45 A.M. Not only did we have to go into see Dr B again but I had two oncologist consultations back to back. We were greeted at the front door by Dr B herself and she had a fax in her hand and a look I have not seen before….it was her good news face. My PET scan was clear! Tears welled up but this time it was for the sheer joy. This test was so important and would determine so many things for my chance of survival. While the PET scan does not pick up everything, it does give me a better prognosis. Finally some good news! We can now head to the oncologist with this important detail behind us.
I wanted to see two oncologists just to get a second opinion. Little did I know their opinions and ideas would be so different. The drugs are all the same and they will be toxic and harmful to my body. For the most part, all the side effects during the treatments will be the same regardless. I will lose my hair, be fatigued, etc. These cannot be avoided but how often I receive these drugs and how long I receive them can mean a lot for my chance of reoccurrence but also the long term side effects that all these drugs may cause me. Some opinions are that I am so young and my body can handle it and one would say, sure your body can handle it today but what about 20 years from now when you have heart problems? Lots of breast cancer patients have been given “dose dense” treatments vs. the “classic”. The classic way is every 3 weeks and has not been proven to be less effective than this new way which has only been used more frequently in the past decade. The dose dense way is every two weeks and it can be a lot harder on your body so they follow up the treatment with a shot the next day that will help you recover fast enough to take the drugs again in two weeks. This other shot is another drug that helps to boost your white blood cell count. Huh, another drug to help me take more drugs…did I mention this other drug has its own lovely potential long terms side effects? Yes, I want to be cancer free, of course and I will take the drugs that I need to take and will suck it up but is it totally necessary to potentially affect my quality of life in 20-30 years from now? That is what the second doctors concern is. She suggests the classic. This means I am potentially looking at 6 months vs. 4 months of treatments but is faster and more aggressive always better? I tend to think not but this is the new struggles I am facing. The decisions I make today can change my future in an irreversible way. I am also reminded from a friend that this doctor I choose will be in my life for at least the next 5 years. They are both very smart women but personality means a lot and my gut says door number 2…I must feel comfortable with my choice so this is not easy.
It has been 4 weeks today since my surgery and while I am making great leaps in my recovery, I am still unable to handle simple tasks around the house or exercise the way I am accustomed to. Simply put, I miss riding my bike and I miss the way my life used to be.