Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hasta la vista, baby

On Friday I met with Dr. Oncologist for what was called my Survivorship meeting.  This meeting occurred exactly one month after my last herceptin treatment.  We reviewed all of the bodily changes that have occurred since the discovery of inflammatory breast cancer in October 2010.  We also discussed the (or what should be my) primary concerns moving forward:  the possibilities of recurrent cancer, heart problems, and lymphedema.  (Note:  I don't have heart problems, but any heart that has been through what my heart has now been through should be scrutinized and carefully maintained, apparently.)

These possible problems are just that--possibilities.  I have none of these problems today, and I probably won't wake up with these problems tomorrow.  So I'm just going to go about my life as usual; turns out I'm really really good at going about my life as usual.  Dr. Oncologist has only four instructions for me to follow to try to maintain today's health status:  no smoking, no drinking alcohol, keeping the body mass index (BMI) below 25, and exercising.  These things should be no problem for me, although when I mentioned my new fondness of yoga and she said that that isn't the kind of exercise she's talking about.  She means the type of exercise that gets my heart rate up.  I guess I'd better find a way to start biking to work again.    

Also at the survivorship meeting I met with the outreach nurse, who gave me 12 CD's full of tips for cancer survivors.  I'll be sure to play those at our next house party.  She also gave me a spiral-bound booklet of written tips for the survivor.  These tips include many what-to-expect-when-you're-surviving tidbits like pre-menopausal symptoms, months of lingering fatigue, and emotional difficulties.  Um, thanks, but this information would have been useful yesterday (in July).  I physically and emotionally processed the bulk of my cancer treatment recovery and survivorship issues months ago.  The booklet probably could have been useful at some point, but its delivery was poorly timed.

Needless to say, I am not suffering any cancer treatment separation anxiety.  I have read that some patients are very sad to be done visiting the place that saved their lives, where they now have lots of friends and a fixed routine.  They also get nervous that now they are back on their own with their bodies and are expected to find a recurrent cancer all by themselves.  Maybe my separation from cancer treatment is too recent, or conversely maybe I went through this months ago when I was done with the hard cancer treatments, but currently I am not suffering any of these emotions at all.  Indeed, when I walked out of my last herceptin treatment a month ago, I don't think I've ever held my head higher.  I waved at the receptionists, all on their phones with actual cancer patients, and I strutted out of there, no longer a cancer patient.

So I'm officially a survivor now.  I will miss my clinic cancer friends, but I'll still see them around.  Indeed, I still get to go in every three months for PET scans, but eventually that will be every 4 months, and then every 6 months, until finally I just have a PET scan once per year.  Like getting my eyes checked.  

It's been a long time since I posted a song.  I don't know why I haven't posted songs lately; I still love music.  But this post is begging for a song.  Only one song, really.  In this song, I think the "I" is me, and the "you" is the oncology waiting room.  Hasta la vista, baby.              

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Cancer can suck it.  


  1. Boom! Well done, and well said.

  2. Boom! indeed...and yet, you seem awfully calm for someone who was just informed "no drinking alcohol." There aren't enough survivorship booklets in the world that would keep me sane in the face of beer separation anxiety.

  3. Boom!


    Congratulations, truly. Like Beyonce, you are a survivor. Let's celebrate with a workout and a yummy dinner soon.

  4. Aw, I'm still going to cheat and have a cold beer or a glass of wine now and again. It's all about moderation while living life to the fullest. Boom!

    @Lauren: you got it!

  5. Boom indeed!

  6. @Lori: thanks for the fireworks! Great idea!

  7. glad to read that you are going to be sane about this and still have some libations in moderation! Which means - drinks at our house anytime!

  8. Yay and congratulations to my favorite, triumphant survivor! Great song, and it's currently bringing back happy memories of Madison.:) Rock on H-bomb!

  9. @Rad Sci: the song reminded me of Madison, too. So do margaritas. :)