Monday, December 22, 2014

Post game (after treatment)

Today was my first post-treatment (survivor) appointment. Going back to November, suffice it to say, I got over not being seen by medical professionals everyday very quickly after my final radiation treatment. Celebrations abounded. Cupcakes were baked (and consumed), my colleagues took me out to lunch, and then on the weekend more cupcakes were produced (by my team). I even got a diploma (really, these are for the kids) for completing my treatment with such a good attitude. Tears were shed frequently, but that seems to be my m.o. these days - emotions are dialed up a bit for both the happy and sad spectrum. 

It took about four and a half weeks for my skin to look normal again. What I hadn't noticed until two weeks post was the small patch of affected skin on my upper back, mirroring the treatment area around my collar bone - that radiation goes right through. The skin looked tan more than anything else, but it was the itchiness that tipped me off that anything was going on. 

Back to the present, today's visit was with my medical oncologist. The visit included all the standards - vitals, blood draw, physical, exam, and arm measurement. Weight, temp, and BP all normal. Blood draw will show how my liver is doing (should be fine, but confirmation will show nothing has changed with the tamoxifen); it takes a few days for results. After the exam (skin check, palpitating, listen to lungs), my doctor said, "perfect." (yay!) I also had my arm measured, adding to the periodic comparison before and after surgery, looking for lymphedema and any other changes in size (none).

My next visit at MGH is with my surgeon in March and will include imaging. Then, I will be on an every-six-months schedule. Prior to that, I will be enrolled in a follow up survivors group at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. (It would have been at MGH, but that's a little far for a commute.) Looking forward to that, really!

Little by little, and some days more, I am embracing this whole survivor business. From having people think it's a bad-ass hair cut to only feeling tired from a lack of sleep or a hard workout, it's pretty good! And, the extra time each day - remarkable, not to mention the improved availability of mental bandwidth for things other than cancer. 

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