Another round of worry with a side of anxiety

I’ll have some Valium on my pizza please. Maybe a round of anti-acids on the side.

I am a member of a very elite club. One I didn’t choose although it lists some pretty awesome people as members. It’s the breast cancer survivor club.

All is good. I survived but once you have been diagnosed your statistical chance of a recurrence or another cancer is higher than the average person. (However, it doesn’t alter my statistical chance of winning the lottery.)

I am very conscious of this and take all the precautions. The girls go in for a check-up every year. They get squished and pulled and pushed. If I’m lucky that’s the end of it.

Sometimes because of scar tissue, they need an ultrasound to “see better.” If I’m lucky that’s the end of it.

Sometimes the scans are still not clear and an MRI is warranted. If I’m lucky that’s the end of it.

Sometimes the MRI is suspicious and I need a biopsy. If I’m lucky that’s the end of it.

There seems to be a cycle. A few years will be simple, than there will be a year that requires more tests. I don’t know why because the scar has been there for 13 years. I doubt if it’s grown lately.

Whenever this round of extra tests happen, the whole worry thing gets opened up. It took years until I stopped having the 3 a.m. conversations (in my head) on who would get my jewelry and who would take care of my cats.

Just when I have completely compartmentalized it all, it’s an “extra test” year.

Logic doesn’t always reign. I know in my head that the probabilities are good the tests will turn out fine but my heart doesn’t always accept that.

I’m not complaining. The tests are nothing like the treatments and it isn’t the tests that are the issue. It’s the not knowing. A state of suspension. A reluctance to plan events that you may not be able to attend. Sometimes it can take a month to get from first test to the end.

I’ve had enough surgery in my life to know the prep. I need tops that open in the front. Simple clothes that are easy to get on and off because everyone wants to look at the girls. Some treatments need easy access. Some surgeries make it difficult to lift your arms up above your head.

I start shopping. Not buying because I don’t know if I’ll really need them. Just checking what’s out there.

This year I was lucky. I went as far as the MRI and then all was well for another year. That was a two mocha latte day. My celebrations have become very modest.

Historically, I should have a couple of simple years before I need all the tests again. You can bet I’m going to enjoy them.

70 thoughts on “Another round of worry with a side of anxiety

  1. So very glad you got good news! Here’s to another year.
    I find that whenever I have to wait for results is when my imagination goes wild and I become positive that whatever the worst outcome could be will be what I’ll end up with. The imagination is an annoying thing!

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  2. I’m so glad for you, Kate. You can breathe a little easier until the next round! I never thought of the complicated cycle of tests you might have to undergo to guarantee your clear medical report. I know myself well enough to know that in between each test I’d have a very hard time!

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    • There is worry even though the doctors clearly said that they couldn’t see rather than that they saw something suspicious. Still…..it could be something other than scar tissue blocking the view.

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  3. Sometime you just have to disconnect yourself from your body to deal with all the prodding. Has to be done – and not to be ignored. Cheers and coffee cup clink/toast for so far so good.
    Sister-in-law survivor coming in to the big city for more extensive looks-see/tests by her specialists after the small city regular check up turn up possibly something – or maybe something not. Waiting is the hard part.

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    • My prayers to your SIL. I’ve been there. I got as far as the biopsy (where they were sure it was another cancer). Fortunately the person who reads the biopsies did not agree. It is much better than it used to be. Now they won’t let me leave without looking at the images so I can get the ultrasound right away. The MRI is always at least a week or two later.

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      • It’s something on her spine. She demanded the results and questioned them about it – the “reader doc” thought it should be checked out while her general doc didn’t so he didn’t say anything – she saw it and sent all results/films to MD Anderson who treated her and they called immediately.
        Location location location of doctors does matter. Prayers to all who survive, but still have that small nagging thought hiding back there

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        • You do have to be your own advocate. I learned more than I wanted to know about it all. I was fortunate that I found a doc that only did breast cancer. I also always had my results forwarded to both my cancer doc and my gyn. I love my gyn. She will call when she sees something to make sure the cancer doc is following it up. Team tag helps. I’ve had 3 friends die from it over the past 5 years so I am always on my toes. Despite it all breast cancer still kills women.

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  4. Hurray! I’m glad it all turned out fine. I hope the next couple of years will be even better. I get nervous when I make a wrong turn or have to drive to some new place. So I understand how unpleasant the anxiety can be.

    Once, after a mammogram, I was told they’d found something and I should come back. Before the appointment though, my husband and I would be traveling to the Russian Far East for two weeks to visit our daughter who was working there. Since this was my first time for a mammogram follow-up, I was nervous the whole time.

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    • Mammogram follow-ups were common back in the day. Today’s equipment is technically better and there is another digital step up that my place just got to make it easier. I have a whopper of a scar from the original surgery and radiation that makes it difficult to see. I guess some years the scar is more dense than others or maybe it’s just the position of the boob in the squisher. (Those are technical terms.) I hope that it didn’t ruin your trip.

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  5. Well, I was glad to get to the end of the post and learn that all was good for another couple of years. Yes, I sometimes expect the worst too! But thirteen years is pretty good! Enjoy every day and keep shopping for those shoes and whatever Starbucks has to offer. May you be relaxed for the time being!

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  6. Yay!!! So glad the results were good once again, Kate. It’s worrisome and a hassle, but necessary. After having cancer two years ago, I’ve never skipped a follow up exam. And I’ve celebrated after each one!

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  7. Yahoo! Sorry for the anxiety, though. I understand it completely. If someone goes in for surgery, I am sure they’re going to die. My husband is sure they will be fine. 0-Catastrophe, that’s how I roll.

    A psychotherapist told me it’s what happens to kids who lose parents early in life.

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  8. First of all, would it be insensitive to say your jewelry would look great on me? Yeah. How about that I can style an open-in-the-front hospital gown like nobody’s business? Sorry we both ended up in this elite club. ❤️

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  9. Thanks for sharing this. A very strong testimony on why women need to get mammograms. So glad you are still cancer-free and sorry you had to go through so much to find out. ((Virtual Hugs))

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  10. I would enjoy sharing your good news with you….as I would welcome your sharing your fears with me. Writing to let you know.

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  11. Hogs and snout kisses my sweet friend. Mom says she can relate to the worries. She hasn’t went through breast cancer but she has been on a follow up check every 3 months for some time. Finally she got released last month to a 6 month follow up. The stress of the unknown is so overbearing. Love you. XOXO – Bacon

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