Waiting to exhale

I finally got the call back from my mammogram. This wasn’t just any mammogram.. it was the first one post diagnosis.  I don’t recall ever having to wait more than a week for results before.  Usually my doctor would call in a day or two to say all is well (or not..in the case of last year’s) and then I would get the generic pink form letter from radiology confirming.  I knew that my doctor(s) got the results a week ago. Still, I hadn’t heard a peep from anyone.  I called the cancer center yesterday and left a message which was finally returned this morning.  All clear.  I was too happy to ask if it was common practice to make a breast cancer patient wait for results of her mammogram.  I know they are read the day of the test or the next day at the very latest.

No one on my team of medical experts has used  the words “cancer free” yet. Or even “no evidence of disease”.   Since these are the same people who had no problem making me hold my breath for over a week I’m going to assume they just don’t see the value in putting cancer patient’s minds at ease, so I’ll say it. Cancer Free!  


Mixed messages

Anyone else getting mixed messages from your docs?  I saw my surgeon for my final postop visit. Everything is healing well so he has discharged me, except not… I can call if I have any further problems without waiting for referral, I have a “Fast Pass”.  My followups will be at the Cancer Center when my treatments are done, except I should see him yearly to remain an active patient, but there really isn’t any need since my follow ups will be at the Cancer Center, but I can, but I don’t have to.   Clear as mud. Since there are obvious changes in my breast from surgery I asked if there would be more and when I would know the “new normal”  as far as doing self breast exams. He said there was no proof that self exams did any good.  (WHAT???) or mammograms for that matter.  I reminded him that I found this lump myself. So I should do them. Or not. Apparently it’s up to me.  I skipped my mammo last year based on the new protocol that every other year is sufficient and look where that got me.  It wouldn’t have changed the reality of the cancer, but it would have been caught earlier and maybe it would not have spread and I could have avoided the chemo. We’ll never know.  I’ve had similar conversations with Oncology.  For instance, when asking about side effects I get the standard “Everyone’s different” and then in the next breath.. “You WILL experience (fill in the blank)”.  And usually it’s the one side effect you hope to be spared .. like hair loss.

I’ve heard of chemo brain, but I thought that was supposed to affect the patient, not their providers. That being said, I really do like my doctors and my surgeon ended the visit by telling me I look remarkably well for someone undergoing chemo and pretended he didn’t know I was wearing a wig by asking if I had experienced any hair loss yet. You gotta love that.