September Checkup

Today I took a neighbor with me to my oncology check-up. She is a 30 year survivor of stage IV breast cancer and alive and well at 74 even after the cancer had spread to her bones. She went through 3 years of chemotherapy treatments about 20 years ago even though her doctors gave her 6 months to live. She said she decided to do all the things she liked to do and that's what keeps her going to this day. She was the dean of nursing at a medical school for much of her career (years and years ago) and, after hearing of my concern about a spot that showed up on my right lung in a CT scan, she decided she wanted to accompany me and see and hear more about the situation to decide if I should go to her oncologist at the National Cancer Center in Tsukiji.

She was impressed at how direct and open my doctor was and said he seemed quite sensible. This was encouraging to hear after going solo for so long. I had a little more courage than usual due to her presence so I asked outright if he (my onc.) thought that the spot was definitely cancer. He gave me an apologetic "yes." Sigh. I kind of thought so too. This edges me into stage IV. Feh! A number. He did say that it is much smaller now after the last part of the chemotherapy and that I should get another CT scan with contrast on 10/4 to monitor it.

He said I should continue with the hormonal therapy he prescribed (which I'd understood to be mainly for post-menopausal women). I'll also need to begin getting monthly shots of Zoladex to shut my ovaries down as the chemotherapy apparently didn't shut them down. He reitirated that an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) would have been the best option before Zoladex became available but that 2 years of Zoladex would be much kinder to my body.

It will be a little expensive as my 30% of the Zoladex will cost about $300 a month. (How can a syringe full of liquid cost $1,000?!) The daily pills of torifimene will only be $50 a month. I guess I'd better start working more or learn more frugal ways to live because we'll need about $300 a month per child to pay for high school when that time rolls around. (Even the public high schools are not free.)

If 10/4 CT scan shows that the spot is smaller or even the same size, then just continuing on the hormonal treatment should be OK. If it's bigger, I may need to break out the wigs again. The neighbor wants to come with me again to the 10/10 appointment and ask if I should get a lung biopsy or go for a second opinion at the National Cancer Center. She seems quite excited about being useful but I do have to be careful to give myself a little extra time to get the hospital and back without rushing her.

Today's good news:
1. I feel fine.
2. My last blood test results were fine and, in spite of my appearance, I have very low cholesterol.


Lily said...

Sounds like you have a wonderful woman in your corner this time around. I am glad you are feeling fine. I will keep reading your blog hoping for some good news.
-Lily (MIJ)