The Dreaded Six Month Oncology Apointment
This morning I had a routine appointment with my newish oncologist. I say newish because I have only seen him once before, for a consult. I like him so much I think he is my new guy. He has me on a come visit him every six months. Great, that works for me. Since this past spring when the doctors realized I was misdiagnosed four years ago, it seems everyone I see is really focusing on preventative care with me. That works for me.
Today I didn’t really think of it much my appointment with my new oncologist. I wait in the waiting room, no big deal. I casually scan the waiting room. Four older women sit, reading magazines. Then my name is called, again no big deal. I think I like my new guy because he is in a small office and it looks like any other standard medical office. My last oncologist was a large office; chemo patients got their treatment there as well. So every time I was walked into the exam room I had to pass the patients sitting there with their IV. It was always a very bold reminder that could be me at any moment. I was just lucky, very lucky or so I thought.
I am escorted to the exam room of my new oncologist. I am instructed as usual to strip from the waist up. As I wait in the cold room I feel oddly calm. I guess enough time has passed since my diagnosis and maybe I am almost out of the clear, maybe just maybe my cancer was a crazy bit of bad luck, nothing more and nothing less.
There is a quick knock and in comes my new guy. He quickly smiled then sits at his antique writing desk. The room is quiet and I watch him read over my file. He is quiet there is only a few shrugs of his shoulders. I wonder if he knows he even does that, shrug his shoulders while he is deep in thoughts? Finally he begins to speak and here comes the questions. I then begin to feel a bit nervous; I try not to feel this way. I mean I am almost five years out of my diagnosis. After five years I am free and clear right? “Oh right you were not treated for your invasive cancer” He begins, “Just surgery, no radiation, chemo? You are strongly HER2 positive, that is right and let’s see no Tamoxifen, for your estrogen positive portion. So now fours years have passed, there is definitive protocol for this but now I think it is too late.” As he rambles off I find myself right back to my diagnosis, the emotions begin to flood me all at once. I hate how cancer makes me feel, so vulnerable so controlled by its every move. The past six months have been bliss, no thoughts of cancer, no thoughts of doctors and just writing and living my life with my family. In fact I really have worked hard to let go of the fear that cancer may again find me and kill me one day. But here I sit with only my paper gown on my chest and all those words of stats and what my original doctors did not do all create a sense of dread within me.
Then it is time for a quick exam. “Do I tell him or do I not?” I think. So much of me want to never see another doctor again. My pattern has been go to one appointment, and then it leads to another then another. At this time in my life I don’t really want to repeat that pattern again. He begins to examine me, first the left foob (fake boobs, for those of us who had our tissue removed) then he moves to my right foob (cancer foob) I wince in pain. Then I decide I better mention it to him “So um, I have been tender here for about two months” I say pointing to the area. So he begins to examine me again only this time I feel as though I want to jump off the table because he is pressing so hard and it hurts bad. “Here is says?” yes I say “How about here?” yes I say that is sore. He can probably tell because of my wincing face.
“Hum, I think I am going to order a bone scan.” He says heading towards the forms on his desk. “Shit I think, just should have kept my mouth shut” I think quietly. “I want to check out that rib that is hurting you, then I want you to come see me after the scan.” He says. “Ok “ I say feeling defeated, with my fantasy of only coming to an oncology appointment and then no other doctor appointment for another six months.
I leave with the form in my hand for my bone scan, find my car and let the tears fall once the car door was shut. As much as I want to leave my cancer behind, it seems that it will always have a part of me. It was a quick cry, this time I don’t want to google or go down a dark path before a scan. This time I promise to just get my scan and then see what it says, period. So that is what I plan to do.