Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Breast Cancer Clinic

So, I was woken up, on the morning of my appointment at the Breast Cancer Clinic, in a strangely ironic fashion.

The news on the radio was that Dame Sally Davies (the Chief Medical Officer), while giving evidence to a Commons select committee, said the public should contemplate the risks of cancer before drinking alcohol.

"Do as I do when I reach for my glass of wine - think Do I want the glass of wine or do I want to raise my own risk of breast cancer?" She old MPs. "I take a decision each time I have a glass".

(By the way, The Sun newspaper headline on this topic reads: TOP DOCS BARMY ADVICE: IF YOU WANT A GLASS OF WINE, JUST THINK CANCER. They are obviously not, yet, on message!)

Well HURRAH FOR SALLY in flying the flag for non-drinkers. In my case it's rather like slamming the stable door after the horse has bolted. But this is not the case for the majority of you, so pay attention!

I made my way to the clinic where I was greeted like a long lost friend by all the nurses - bless them.

After a stint in the waiting room, checking out the newbies (poor little mites), I was called in by the genius-surgeon-with-terrible-bedside-manner.

He did a recap of all my stats: 23mm, grade 2 invasive lobular carcinoma, negative lymphs, 92% chance of non-recurrence, blah blah blah, after which he invited me to remove all my clothes above the waist.

So, I'm sitting there, with the doc and the breast nurse, half naked, when he decides to have a discussion. He tells me, at what felt like some length, that he wants me to talk to a journalist about my whole breast cancer experience.

I agreed swiftly, just to put an end to the whole half-naked-chitchat thing, and because some warped logic told me that if I was in the news as being 'cured' of breast cancer, it was even more in their interests to keep me alive for as long as possible...

I may live to regret that one. I hadn't planned to become the poster girl for breast cancer, as well as the (secret) one for sobriety.

Anyhow, he copped a feel, which he seemed happy about (in a medical sense, you understand), and told me that I need to come back every April for the foreseeable future for an ultrasound. In addition, I need to come back every October for a mammogram.

AND, on top of that, there's a new blood test for ovarian cancer, so they took a vial from my arm, and told me they'll repeat that one every twelve months too.

Oh, and I see my oncologist every May to have blood tests to check for cancer markers.

So, on the upside, I am going to be monitored to within an inch of my life.

On the downside, every time I go in for one of these tests I have to deal with the flashbacks and anxiety....

....which is why my post tomorrow (inspired by Ulla) is on Managing Anxiety - Sober.

Thank you all so much for all your comments, thoughts and best wishes. It helped hugely knowing you were thinking of me.

(If you're new to this blog, and want to read about my breast cancer 'journey' (hate that expression) from the beginning, then start with this post from October: I Need Help! Or, if you'd like to read from when I first quit drinking then start here, from March: Mummy Was a Secret Drinker)

Love to you all,

SM x

24 comments:

  1. Dear SM, so it sounds like other than having to be poked and prodded within an inch of your life each year, things went well!! So happy for you and kudos on standing out amongst the throngs with bad boobs to the point they want you to share your experience with a journalist! Cheers to being cancer free and cheers to another day sober.

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  2. I read both your posts this morning.
    I am so happy and relieved and impressed and inspired.
    You are an amazing woman. I am so blessed to be sober with you to share your story.

    Hooray!

    Next time, bring your husband. If not for you, which is a perfectly good reason, for him. I bet he was just as scared and worried.

    Love and joy! Plus stillness and peace!

    Anne

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    1. Thanks, Anne! You are amazing too, and I'm blessed to be sharing the sobersphere with you, my friend.

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  3. Yesssssssss! So glad it went well, SM. I can't help but think you don't need a journalist to write your story. You do that exceptionally well yourself. On the other hand, it may be a great opportunity professionally, as I'm pretty sure a book (either on the SM journey or the breast cancer journey - or both!!) is in your future.

    Just sayin'.

    So very happy for you!

    Aggie

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  4. Sounds like a good visit and a great plan! I'm "anxiously" awaiting your next post :) You're very inspiring, information and entertaining to read.

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    1. Welcome, running away, and thank you!

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  5. SM, I agree with Aggie, SM - I see a book in your future too. So happy and relieved for you that all is well. You continue to inspire me everyday xx

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  6. I am so pleased for you that it went well. More tests are better than too few (obviously there is a limit!!) I think, even if there is trauma around them. I was reading something earlier today on the BBC news website something like "are we tackling cancer the right way"which focussed on how all the research on new drugs is around people with advanced cancer, with the criticism that there is little research around drugs (slightly mis-spelled this and autocorrect came up with "curls"!!!) to prevent at all, or treat in the early stages. But I thought they were missing a trick, what about (apart from lifestyle choices/education) diagnostic tools. And this leads me to a thing - I have to ask - is your treatment private or NHS? I have no judgement about this, would throw money at this if I needed to for myself or my family, but I am curious....

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    1. Hi midlifecrisis! I was very lucky, as I had private medical insurance through Mr SM's job. It meant that I got seen more quickly once the GP gave me an urgent referral (I would have waited 2 weeks, rather than 2 days). But all my consultants also do NHS work. The ovarian cancer test I mentioned is not available on the NHS (yet), and nor is the test I had (Endopredict) which led to my oncologist recommending no chemotherapy. Other than that, I think I would have had the same treatment with the NHS (just less plush surroundings, and more time spent in waiting rooms!) xxx

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  7. So pleased SM. I wanted to say you'd be ok yesterday but didn't want to jinx you.

    Its a bit of a double edge sword, the screening. On the one hand its great to have a follow up but horribly nerve racking as you've found out. I just get seen once a year this is year 3 for me. The last couple of years I've not thought about it but THE month I am a wreck. Drinking goes up to. Hoping to cope better this year sober. No getting round it though and on reflection its better to be screened so anything can be caught early. The only upside is when you are told all clear for another year the relief is just so enormous. So relieved about you been thinking about you all day x

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    1. Thanks Sharon! And good luck with your next follow up. As you know, every year that goes past your odds of recurrence fall significantly ;-) Go, us! xx

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  8. Dear SM, I'm so happy for your good news! I'm new to your blog and this is only day 4 AF for me but your posts have already helped me so much, thank you!

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    1. Welcome Sheila! Huge congrats of day 4. You are doing an amazing thing! Hugs xxx

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  9. EXCELLENT, so glad it went well SM! Thought of you this morning when I heard the news. Good for Dame Sal for coming out with that, I say. Loving your blog as ever, you're helping to keep me on the straight & narrow ;-) Red xx

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  10. So happy you got this news, I can't imagine your relief. Thanks for sharing with us the details of such a difficult thing you've gone through. You are inspiring!

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  11. So glad your appointment went well. The annual tests may be stressful but at least it will give you peace of mind. A x

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  12. Dear SM - so delighted to hear this news. You deserve all good things to happen to you dear friend. You totally rock. Love SFM

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  13. Fabulous news. What a star you are!

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  15. Oh thank goodness for doctor okuta! I will quit the incredibly-well-researched Tamoxifen and move onto hemp oil from this 'spell caster'. Hallelujah! (Not)

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