Sometimes an optimistic attitude can lead to a bit of disappointment when you are on an unknown journey such as this health journey I am on. While I am still in a positive frame of mind, I have run into a few potholes over the past two weeks through my many appointments. The good thing is that these potholes are just that, little dips from the surface which I either step into and climb out of or I find myself jumping over and moving on. Either way, I have had to take in as much information as I can in a quick amount of time so that I can get through the obstacle.
The appointments and testing I have had in the last two weeks were two-fold 1) pre-operative for my reconstruction surgery next week and 2) testing on my joints and back to ensure the pains I have are not a cause of the cancer or chemotherapy. All of the pre-ops went well and as planned. I knew I had one big decision to make and I left it to how I felt at the exact moment I was asked: to have nipples or to not have nipples. Big questions in life! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that was a decision I would make, or that I would write or talk about nipples and yet here we are. I didn’t know if I felt comfortable sharing this (my dad and co-workers read this for goodness sake!) but it is a real decision we are asked to make and think about. Having nipples adds to the surgery and means some more scarring (they have to get the skin from your sides) and it also means a few days longer recovery – nothing too significant. So, drum roll please……nipples it is! The recommendation was that it would help me to feel whole again. I wasn’t aware that I didn’t already feel whole but if it could help when I hit a down day in the future I think it will be worth it.
Now onto the second set of appointments, follow-ups and additional tests. These were the ones which added a twist to my days. It is hard to explain all of the conversations, but in general it was discussion around next steps to preserve viable options for my fertility. The question is whether or not further surgeries (ovaries) would be more beneficial to me than medicines alone to prevent the cancer from coming back. It is not as simple as that, but it is the best I can do right now. While as shocking as the conversation was at the time, the good news is that I don’t have to make a decision today. There are medicines I will continue to take (Tamoxifen and Lupron) which can serve as hormone blockers to suppress the estrogen which my tumor was receptive to (along with the Her-2 and progesterone – I was triple positive). These drugs, like any others, have a long list of side effects which is why I was given the other options. For now, I can start down this path and determine what will be the best option for me in time. Fun stuff!!
The final pothole I hit was on Monday when I had a test which did not gel with my current physical state. Let me just say that a magnetic machine and the chest spacers, with metal, do not mix. I had quite the scare when the metal was pulled in the wrong direction and my chest dropped inward- luckily the technician stopped it immediately and I jumped out of the machine…but my oh my was that an experience. It made me so much more aware of what my body has been through and knowing the importance of asking all and any questions you have with regard to timing and necessity. While it was one of he more shocking experiences I have had, we were able to complete half of the testing before the magnets got the best of me. From this test I learned there “are no more tumors” to which I said “What! We were looking for tumors?!” My naivety for this cancer situation still lives on. At the end of the day it was good news and it is only swollen tendons for which I was recommended to another doctor – I hadn’t seen an orthopedist yet so I guess I get to add that to the list.
Oh what a two weeks it has been. I am still very grateful to have a good team of doctors who are taking the necessary precautions and giving me all of my options…even the ones I don’t want to hear. I felt like I was living through the diagnosis stage again, still continuing to learn about how this is a lifetime of awareness going forward. Just when I thought I was ready to move on after chemo I now know there is quite a few strings left to be tied up and even more than that, some I will never get to. Surely more potholes lie ahead, I just have to keep tackling them one at a time.