Yesterday, I was happy to visit my Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Young, at Sequoia. He is one of my favorite doctors and always has something interesting to say. This was my 1month, then 4 month, then 6 month follow-up which is how it came to be 11 months instead of 1 year. It is hard to believe that it is nearly one year now since I completed radiation! I am a 19 month cancer survivor. How time passes.
During the exam, we talked about Herceptin. I mentioned that I had some muscle pain, weakness, fatigue that cumulatively got worse over the year I was on Herceptin. I expected him to say the same as everyone else, "but Herceptin doesn't have any negative side effects". Instead, he told me about another patient of his that experienced the same symptoms but to a much worse degree. She had to be on pain killers the whole time. Her comment was that she had not had much problem with AC/Taxol (the chemo combo that makes most people, including me, so sick) but had terrible problems with Herceptin. As sorry as I was to hear her dilemma, I was also happy that someone else had acknowledged difficulties with Herceptin.
Back to the exam. Everything went well. No new developments. Dr. Young checked out my reconstruction and commented on the elasticity of my skin (a good thing) at the radiation site. He said it was good that most of the burn was gone. I thought this to be normal one year later but guess that my healing was going better than normal. I go back to see him again in 6 months and then start on a once/year schedule after that.
Last night, I also went for another SCIOS session to try to balance my hormones that were put so out of whack by chemo and potentially reverse the unnatural menopause that I have been forced into. Because the treatment program can multi-task, I also received treatments for my stiff neck and anemia and various other adjustments that needed to be made to my system. It is amazing that just being hooked up to the machine could relieve my stiff neck that Quigong and stretching could not do all day long. The funny thing is that the treatment system also evaluates your chakras, meridians and auras - all manifestations of energy and therefore quantifiable by a system that is measuring energy movement such as the SCIOS. The operator said wow, you have to see this. I was wondering what was wrong and she showed me that I was emanating a strong purplish, pink aura which meant that I was surrounded by love and positive energy. I guess I have all of my family and friends to thank for that. Anyway, we will see if this has any positive effect on my hormones and reversing this unnatural menopause.
I returned home and found TIVO recording "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy". I thought it would be another of those light, fluffy breast cancer dramas that white washed over and minimized everything so as not to "scare" the public. It was refreshingly surprising to find that it was a pretty direct, hard hitting presentation of the emotions and difficulties women go through in being diagnosed, having to make the decisions and managing this disease (and was handled with some humor). It is a true story and the author was only 27 when diagnosed. She talks about finding the lump, about the doctors saying it was probably nothing, even her doctor-surgeon husband saying it was probably nothing. Her own gynecologist missed it until she pointed it out. Unlike mine, they were actually able to see hers in the mammogram and sent her to ultrasound. Still unable to conclusively tell, they sent her for a needle biopsy. Her first oncologist cried and recommended lumpectomy. The second one recommended bilateral mastectomy. The third recommended lumpectomy because she was so beautiful and neeeded to keep her breasts. All kept telling her it was her decision. She was confused and frustrated not knowing which way to turn. At that point, she began doing her own research and finally, confidently decided on a mastectomy. Through it all, she describes her emotions, her fears - Is her life over? Is she going to die? I could go on and on (and already have) but really want to say that it is a good movie. Glad I watched it. Thank you TIVO. It is on Lifetime and will be showing again this month. Watch it if you get a chance.
And finally, what is coming up? Thursday, I see my surgeon for a follow-up. I forget which one but think it is a 6 month to 6 month to 4 month follwo-up. Next week, I see my plastic surgeon to take a look at the new breast and decide whether or not to do revision surgery.
And, in the middle of this, I am still looking for a job and trying to move on to the next phase of my life (post-cancer).
Whew! (Know I have said that before, too)