S.N.A.F.U.

I caved today. 

I called my oncologist’s office for my CT Scan results. 

Normally, I’d wait until my appointment (which is still ten days away).  Normally I’d repeat the ‘no news is good news’ mantra over and over in my head until the urge to call disappeared.  Normally, I’d trust my knowledge of my own body and my intuition to give me a head’s up that there’s trouble somewhere inside me. 

Normally.

But March hasn’t been a normal month. 

First Sarah from SpruceHill told us about the recurrence of her breast cancer.  It started behind her implant and has spread.  She has metastatic disease now.  What does that mean?  Here is the National Cancer Institute’s answer:

    • What is metastasis, and how does it happen?
    • Metastasis means the spread of cancer. Cancer cells can break away from a primary tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system (the system that produces, stores, and carries the cells that fight infections). That is how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.
    • When cancer cells spread and form a new tumor in a different organ, the new tumor is a metastatic tumor. The cells in the metastatic tumor come from the original tumor. This means, for example, that if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, the metastatic tumor in the lung is made up of cancerous breast cells (not lung cells). In this case, the disease in the lungs is metastatic breast cancer (not lung cancer). Under a microscope, metastatic breast cancer cells generally look the same as the cancer cells in the breast.

     

  • Now she is back in chemotherapy.  It has only been 26 months since her original diagnosis. 

    Then Susan (you may know her better as WhyMommy) from Toddler Planet had a bad scan while chasing down the origin of some weird pain in her arms, back and neck. And it’s cancer, too!  It’s a regional recurrence.  Just like it sounds, a regional recurrence happens, not necessarily in the breast, but in the general region – usually the lymph nodes or skin.

    Imaginis says a regional recurrence is rare.  Heh.  Why should Susan stop now.  I think she actually had three kinds of breast cancer at once. 

    “Regional breast cancer recurrences are rare, occurring in approximately 2% of all breast cancer cases. Most often, regional recurrence appears as a cancerous axillary (underarm) lymph node that was not removed during primary treatment. Treatment involves simply removing the cancerous node. Regional recurrence in the lymph nodes of the neck or above the collarbone usually indicates more aggressive cancers.”

    It’s no wonder I’ve been nervous waiting for my own CT Scan results.  In my experience these bad news things most often come in threes.  I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When I found out that Sarah had no inkling her cancer was back, and Susan’s doctor didn’t call with the bad biopsy results but waited a week until her appointment to tell her the news… well, there went the only two rationales that keep me sane during the wait.  Add to that that I will have my boys with me for my appointment next week because it’s spring break and it became the perfect storm. 

    So I caved and I called my oncologist.  And I got my results.  Officially, there is no evidence of recurrence or metastasis in my CT Scan. 

    Whew!  I can breathe again!  I’ve broken the chain of bad scans and can get back to normal.  Or at least what ever passes for normal in a cancer survivor’s life. 

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    4 Responses

    1. Your description of the waiting/worrying time is so powerful, and your reasons for “caving” make perfect sense. I love that I always learn something from your posts (from the dream post I learned that your mind is still as creative and busy as ever!), and that in the end you got really, really good news.

    2. Congrats on your good scan!

      Maybe it’s because I started out metastatic, but I *never* wait for any medical office to call me. I am one of those patients who calls and calls – politely, but definitely being my own advocate. I guess it’s an individual thing, but I can’t stand not knowing.

      I’m soooo happy that you got the results that you did. Yay!!!

    3. So Happy for you!! May you have many nmore results like that – and I think you not waiting was a natural reaction to the situation with your two friends – I’ve already got the recurrence similar to Susan’s. But every time I hear of someone having a recurrence or someone dying it brings my own fears about the future to the surface and the quicker you can allay those fears the better I say!! It made me laugh to read your excerpt about regional recurrences mine was to my internal mammary nodes – they were the only regional nodes left for it to go to it had already been in axillary and supraclavicular(above collarbone)the first time round

    4. If you have time, please try to visit my blog, hope it can help you or your friends. Godbless.

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