Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Anticlimax

What a strange week.

I blew off my last echocardiogram because I figured what's the point.  And, my friend the Nurse Practitioner at the Oncology clinic said that I didn’t really have to do it.  I only had one more Herceptin treatment left, and we were going to go ahead and do it anyway.  Part of me wanted to see if my echo was actually any BETTER due to all the running I’ve been doing, but the larger part of me really just wanted to skip an appointment. I felt like I needed to make some kind of point or something. Feel rebellious, etc.  Anyway, I didn’t go.

I did my last (let’s hope anyway) Chemo (Herceptin) on Wednesday last week.  Again, like on the last day of my Radiation, I was sort of hoping that there would be confetti, or someone would ring that bell for me, or something. But, Alas, no one there seemed to know that it was my last treatment.  Nothing Happened. No Celebration. No Congratulations. Nothing.  I got poked, I got infused, and I did my usual best to ignore everything else going on in that room. I was on the phone and the computer, and I hardly even noticed the F------ harp player, but it WAS helpful that I was one row further away from her this time.  As I walked out, it was sort of like  s  l  o  w  motion as I passed that big brass bell on my left.  I’m not a shy person, and had I really felt deep down that the whole thing was over, I would have reached up and just RANG the () thing myself.  But…I didn’t.  I’m not sure if it was the fact that I knew I had to go back there the very next day to have the actual appointment with the oncologist, or the fact that I’ve still made no final decisions regarding the longevity of my left breast, made no plans for reconstruction, or the fact that I still have this port-a-cath imbedded in my left subclavian veins. But I just didn’t.  I just couldn’t, in full consciousness, ring that bell.  It would have been cool if someone else would have rung it, but, I just couldn’t do it myself.   Once I made it past the bell, I did, however, shed 2 tears as I walked out toward the stairwell.  I was not really clear on where the tears were coming from.  The last time I cried was July of this year (the last time I had a menstrual period) if you’re not counting the tears I shed 2 weeks ago as I got into my car to drive away from the trail race I did that weekend.  Those were tears of joy, though.  Tears of rejuvenation.  You know, the kind where you are sort of laughing and crying at the same time.  So, I really wasn’t counting that as crying. While one my think these tears I shed while walking out of the chemo room would have been of joy, or relief, they really didn’t feel that way.  Instead, during this slow motion scenario as I was walking out, I was experiencing a flashback of the last 16 months.  The infusions, the waiting, and the faces of the other patients.  I guess it was mixed emotion.  THAT, and as it turned out, a mere 2 days after the end of my Herceptin, I started my period again!  WOW! I thought that was over with!! I’ve been through hard core Menapause two times now and it is no fun.  In retrospect, I had noticed that my hot flashes were getting easier and farther apart.  Not really even waking me up.  I sort of thought that might be due to the fact that it’s been colder her, so I thought maybe I just wasn’t minding, or noticing them.  Well, I guess I’ll have to inform the doctor of this, but I’m thinking maybe it’s all part of the menopause. 
After meeting with the Oncologist for my “wrap up” appointment I really didn’t feel that much more resolve than I had prior to the appointment.  A summary of how that went: Wait in waiting room one hour.  Just about to get up to leave and the nurse came out to get me and said…”I was hoping you hadn’t left….the doctor is just getting back from vacation.  (At least the nurse knows me, I guess).   Once the doctor came in he began to dictate in front of me as he commonly does and he was saying something about how I’m continuing Herceptin.  I said NO, it was done yesterday.  We argued about it a bit, then he confirmed that yes, I was done.  He gave me a long spiel about Hi Tech vs. Low tech and Fatality rates with Breast Cancer in order to try to convince me for the 3rd time that I DO NOT need any PET scans or further MRIs.  Maybe a chest x-ray, now and then.  He said that the patient ususally catches metastasis before the scans do, or "nearly" as soon :(.   Well,  let’s just hope I’m ON my CANCER game  a bit better than I was last time when I went in for the first time with a 7 centimeter tumor in my right breast.  He said that I can go get this Port out anytime, and that he would see me in four months.  We didn’t speak at all about the other side.  I know I’m not fully an optimist, but, I AM starting to think Conspiracy here.  Conspiracy between the Oncologist and the General Surgeon for me to keep this thing on the left despite initial recommendations to have it taken off too.    We’ll see though.  I’ll call the surgeon to make and appointment to discuss the port and the following surgery and reconstruction.  The reason I write this is in case anyone is reading this who has had breast cancer like mine where they initially recommend Bilateral Mastectomy due to aggressiveness of the cancer and due to young age.   Do NOT fall for the argument that you can remove the other breast during the reconstruction surgery.  When you have larger breasts, IT is really not cool to have one.  I won’t go into the details again.  I would have preferred to just have them both taken initially, as i thought was going to happen.  Remember, the general surgeon informed me only days before the surgery that we would wait to do the other side until the reconstruction happens.  I was not reconstructed at that time due to radiation.  I have, however, interviewed several of my therapy clients recently who have had single mastectomy with NO reconstruction and asked them how they have liked it.  They all say, it’s horrible to have one.  AND, a side note is that I’ve noted that many of them have moderate to severe scoliosis.  I don’t think it is a coincidence.  My chest, back and underarm are so tight it is affecting my right hip and groin.  This may be mostly due to the radiation though.  As my dermatologist said….As she was cutting a hole in my right thigh to rule out skin cancer…..Radiation makes the muscles “like beef jerky”.  She’s right.  So, I suppose I cannot blame all the tightness on the surgery alone.

Enough about that.  I’ve decided to attempt a medical free holiday and not make any appointments until after the New Year.  
As for running.  It is great.  Last week was my highest mileage week so far this time around.  47 miles and full of HILLS, HILLS, HILLs.  Long run was 21 miles trail with lots of HILLs.  This week is recovery week.  I’ll do my best not to gain much weight with Holiday Foods Galore.

This is the hairdo that happens when one is trying to hold down the wacky hair that does whatever it wants.

Next week 25 miles long trail run.

I wish everyone the Happiest and Healthiest of Holidays!

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had been there to ring the bell for you. I 100% identify with your feelings and need someone to ring a bell for me, too.

    I had radiation to the entire chest wall and yes my muscles feel like a fruit roll-up (the vegetarian analogy to beef jerky). Yoga is helping tremendously!!!

    Merry Christmas!