On October 5, 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was five years ago and I remember every word and emotion that went along with that phone call.
In November, the fourteenth to be exact, it will be five years since the cancer was cut from my body. My five year anniversary from parting with cancer. I was one of the unlucky people, my cancer had moved to my lymph nodes – only one. That one node changed my course from a mastectomy with reconstruction to six rounds of chemo and 25 rounds of radiation. One node.
At the time, I would do anything to ensure my life continued. If protocol meant chemo, I was in. If radiation was the last guarantee that cancer would be obliterated, sign me up. Now, I think was that really required? Did one node positive really require all that treatment? I won’t know, but I do wonder.
Everyday I meet women and men who are diagnosed. I am always interested in their treatment and honoured when they do not mind talking to me about it. In five years, treatment has changed, the drugs have changed. It is fascinating. Even reconstruction has changed, more nipple sparing is practiced which was never an option when I was diagnosed. Doctors are being more proactive with ensuring white blood counts don’t go too low and patients are taking neupogen after treatment. For me, I hit emergency twice before neupogen was prescribed. Then on the last round of chemo, I took it immediately to forego the emergency room. I can’t imagine what trying to go to emergency today would look like after all the closures. Maybe some politicians should go through cancer and figure it out – I digress.
In the past five years, I have lost friends. Talked to about 1000 women diagnosed with cancer, various kinds and had a few recurrence scares myself. I was constipated, so for sure I had colon cancer. After a colonoscopy it was determined there was no cancer. I am fairly sure, they forgot to give me the pain relief as I felt every inch of that scope. My mom, who is 105 pounds, felt nothing and she was stoned. Me…..I was screaming at them and remember every word. I was in shock after the scope, that in itself was a recovery.
Just recently, I had a bone scan. Turns out, I have a shitty mattress and could lose a few pounds. Threat dodged. No cancer,thankfully.
Cancer is hard – diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Not to mention what it does to your family. They suffer too. Husbands crash and kids act out, it may not be right away, but it comes. Once the patient, I have again become the care-giver and like they could not fix my cancer, I cannot fix them. But I can be there, just like they were there for me. Five years and still the diagnosis looms.
Only I can change that feeling. I am working on it.