Monday, February 20, 2012

A lucky gal!

Just a quick note - again from work, naughty naughty! - to say that I saw The Tango Man and he doesn't want to see me for another six months! Until now it was 3 months, then every 4 months. Felt quite emotional......said I seem fine.

He is a very icy man. Don't think he mentioned the cyst until I did, about five times, but essentially he said if the radiologist thought something was wrong he would have mentioned it, that often radiologists recommend unneccessary scans and tests, and that anyway it was for the gynaecologist to decide. He handed me the graphic result of my abdominal scan. When I asked if it was for me, he said I was to show it to the gynaecologist.

Am so relieved and so delighted.

Off to Dance Umbrella tonight! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

A s-tressssssss-ful morning

Good write fast 'cos doing this from work which isn't really allowed and gonna begin at the end, to allay fears.
I arrived at the oncology centre mid-morning today, with the report of my chest x-ray and abdominal and pelvic sonar done earlier this morning.
"Look here," I said to the nurse behind the reception desk. "It says I should have a transvaginal ultrasound or MRI. Can I have it today? (my one sister's genius idea)"
The nurse took the report - both written and graphic - to The Tango Man. He saw it pretty quickly, I must say, because he was busy. She came back, sat next to me (by that stage I was rigid with fear) and said: "Dr XXX is not concerned and says you musn't be concerned either".
So I'm ok, I guess. Oh, he did say I must see my gynae but I am, on March 5, Seeing The Tango Man on Monday. My blood test results were not through yet. But have to trust that if he thought it was cancer, he would surely have sent me for the recommended scan/MRI.
This is the hassle. Ultrasound of abdomen found a cyst, either on uterus or ovaries. Of irregular shape. Haemorrhaging inside.
This is what report said: " A space occupying lesion with heterogenous echotexture is identified not clearly separable from the uterine fundus and left adnexa measuring 4.4 x 3 x 2.6cm. This represents a new finding following the previous ultrasound examination and a gynaecological evaluation and/or further imaging with transvaginal ultrasound or MRI is recommended.
"No other focal abdominopelvic visceral lesion is detected."
My trachea, heart, aorta, lung, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, bladder are all perfect - although the liver "measures at the upper limit of the normal range" and shows " steatosis". That means it's fatty. teh Tango Man had told me previously that is from the meds. And is fine.
Tamoxifen can cause endometrial cancer. Hence my panic. Hence my seeing the gynae every 6 months for a test re this.....
Glad Dance Umnrella is opening tonight and I am invited. Can't wait!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mammogram and scan were fine

This morning when I was getting ready to go for my annual mammogram and scan - three years since I had cancer - I kinda made up my mind that if the result was bad, I would not go to work. In fact, maybe I wouldn't go to work all week. I would get a doctor to sign me off for sick leave. Stress and all that. I also considered killing myself... but what I did know was that if it was bad, I would probably spend the day at movies, seeing one after the other. And possibly buy whisky and get drunk.
Relief is that it was ok. The feeling is incomprehensible. Whereas yesterday I couldn't sit still from anxiety, today I couldn't work, didn't want to, wanted to celebrate and felt so bouyant and joyous that I spent close to two hours out the office at lunchtime, of which about 20 minutes was spent eating miso soup and pickle maki and cucumber maki, and the rest gallivanting around having my new sunglasses tightened, swopping the Mac make-up present I bought but never gave (a complicated story) for green eyeliner and a fab new subtle lipstick, buying the other toiletry bag I couldn't decide on yesterday (will now have two new ones, which is fine) and generally having a fab time.
Anyway, at the office a colleague told me about a former colleague who got breast cancer and reacted badly to treatment which I know included a mastectomy: she swelled (her face, it seemed) and her arm went numb. So she stopped the treatment, arguing that it was close to the end of it anyway.
I was aghast. Why didn't she just sit out the treatment? Maybe it would improve afterwards. Did she go for a second opinion?
And then I realised: I wouldn't give up. Even if my mammogram and ultra-sound had shown cancer - and anyway, still have blood tests and abdominal scan and chest x-ray to do before I see The Tango Man on Monday - I would grit my teeth and do what's required.

Know this is a long post but want to document what the mammogram doctor - radiologist? - said today.
Again, he said my breasts were 'pristine', that is, no evidence of ever having had cancer  - think he meant radiation. He also, however, said they were dense with "lots of activity" which he explained as being like a rose bush with lots of branches and thorns and ...
He acknowledged that such breasts are more prone to cancer. I asked what % of patients at his practice - attached to a medical teaching hospital - were diagnosed with breast cancer.
He admitted his stats were skewered because they get many referrals, that is, doctors send problem cases to them and often those become a positive diagnosis. However, bearing that in mind, they diagnose four to five new cases of breast cancer per week. His practice had 228 working days last year and they diagnosed 219 new cases of breast cancer. When I asked how many of those were surprised at their diagnosis, that is, it was unexpected, he reckoned about half.
I was shocked. I asked if it was an increase and he said yes.

He said there were many reasons for breast cancer and cited:
* stress - although it was hard to say what sort etc
* hormones in food
* people having babies late (I haven't had children so that is even worse, plus I started menstruating at a very early age, 9 - yes, standard three)
* genetic disposition towards cancer
But, he said, the biggest factor for the increase was the environment: cellphones, microwaves, TV. "We are surrounded by an electro-magnetic field," he said.

Anyway, for the record, this is part of what my results of today's tests say, apart from the best part which states: "There is no finding of concern on today's study. There is no evidence of recurrence and we have still not found any primary lesion within the left breast."
The rest says: "The breasts show dense fibro-cystic parenchyma.
The patient again has florid fibro-cystic change with fibro-adenotic nodules in both breasts and scattered benign calcifications.
I see no finding of concern in either breast.
There is no axilary or supraclavicular lymphadenopathy".

There is a God. I am so grateful. Now the rest of my tests must just be ok.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One reason why writing a cancer blog helps

Last night wrote about how terrified I was of the tests. Now, besides the fact that I am convinced my sore neck (from yoga and gym and eminating from a stiff over-exercised shoulder blade area) is probably a cancerous lump, I have overcome the worst of my anxiety - just because I wrote about it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Terrified of tests

In a week's time, I am scheduled to have a mammogram, a chest-ray, an abdominal scan and blood tests and then, the following week, on Monday February 20, I see The Tango Man.
To say I feel nervous would be an understatement. I keep visualising myself at the different places for the tests and wondering how I will feel if they are not ok.
Apart from the blood tests, the results of which I will get only when I see the doctor on the Monday, all the others I will know straight away. It begins with the mammogram on Wednesday at 10am. I know I did this before, since I have had cancer, but I feel super stressed. I go to sleep at about midnight and then wake up at about 3am. Then I don't sleep for ages and wake up at about 6am to do my manual lymph drainage massage.
I pray I am ok. I feel fine. I also know that that doesn't mean much although one cannot help thinking that if my body were riddled with cancer, surely I would not feel ok? Dunno.
The time I had cancer, I had had a mammogram and scan, was told to come back in a year, and then, in just under two months, found a lump on the side of my chest while showering. That was on the morning of Christmas Eve in 2009. I never thought it was cancer, not under those circumstances, but I did go to the doctor the same day. My GP.
I don't think I have ever recovered from the shock of finding out that I had cancer. Not me. I was super fit, super healthy, a bit fat but otherwise fine. And even a therapist had told me I had no need of therapy as I dealt with all my problems. I was feeling on top of the world. Now I am riddled with anxiety. Not 24/7 luckily, but think about the upcoming tests a lot.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Today is 3 years since I started chemo

Today is exactly three years since I started chemo on February 5 2009. It was quite a long lapse from when I felt the lump on the side of my chest in the shower (Christmas day, 2008) because there was no-one in Joburg to do a scan at the time. Anyway, the delay did not affect anything I was told.
I remember the day I started chemo very well and hope I never have to have it again. But if I do, hope I have access to it. I promised myself that I would never resent the treatment.