Today’s visit to the oncologist’s office was pretty straightforward. I saw the nurse practitioner, who I love just as much as my oncologist. We talked about side effects of the Herceptin, some of the new supplements that I started taking (primrose for hot flashes, turmeric and reversatol for cancer prevention), my progress since surgery, how I’m feeling and my upcoming appointments.
I’ve been having a bit of numbness and tingling in my left hand periodically since surgery so she wrote me a prescription for a lymphedema sleeve, which I would also use for any airline travel. I also need to have a heart echo done, to check on how well my heart is functioning with the Herceptin. They don’t anticipate any changes but it helps to have one done along the way, just like the baseline that I had done in the August.
I asked about what symptoms I need to be mindful of going forward as well. She explained that they will be doing a “blood marker tests” regularly. That test will indicate to the oncologist whether or not there is the potential for the cancer to have returned. If my blood work indicates that there is a potential concern, then I would be sent for scans to check for recurrence. I’ve read about these marker tests and was curious whether or not my cancer center did them. I am a bit relieved that they do. Though I wouldn’t want to worry unnecessarily, I think with my personality it would put my mind at ease a bit. It’s nice to have something else to rely on other than my interpretation of symptoms.
I asked the dreaded question about recurrence, something I pray every day will never happen. Since the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and am HER2+, I have a higher chance of recurrence than some others, however that increased chance of recurrence is (hopefully) lowered by the aggressive treatment that I am taking. Continuing the Herceptin for a year and having radiation for 6 weeks significantly increases my long term prognosis for the better.
For me, one of the hardest things about having beating cancer is the fear that it returns. When making decisions about the future, I often feel a pang of fear hit my chest and catch my breath. It’s only for a microsecond and I dismiss this fear the best I can, but it looms in the back of my head, awaiting to come out.
That being said, the reality is that none of our futures are known. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and we can’t guarantee any outcomes in life. So, despite that fact that I have had cancer, I will continue to live and enjoy the life that I am blessed to have. I will not live in fear. If nothing else, cancer has taught me to appreciate all that life has to offer.
My NP told me today that at 5 years cancer free I am considered cured. Cured. How awesome does that word sound when it rolls off your tongue?!
Of course, the moment Joe & I sat in our car to leave I immediately said what anyone else would say after hearing they are cured at the 5 year mark. I told him that we are going to Fiji in five years and to start saving his pennies now.
Who’s in?! #FijiInFive