No cancer in the lymph nodes. So that is a very good outcome. No chemo, no radio, just hormone therapy if I choose it. A good meeting with S2. She even talked to B some of the time (he thinks she has read my blog – I gave the address to my bc nurse). She again offered me reconstructive surgery (I was wearing no softie), or said she could lift my other boob if I wished. I am a bit startled by these generous offers of expensive surgery. I think They must consider women having bc treatment as being in a high-risk category psychologically: I also noticed that when I phoned my local health centre with a small query about my stitches last week, I was put on the triage (=urgent) list, and my GP phoned me back within 10 minutes.
However, despite the fact that S2 told me at our last clinic visit just before surgery not to think, it is a good job I did. Because, although I have mentioned the deep vein thrombosis I had in pregnancy at every encounter I have had with medics in the last 6 weeks, she and the multi-disciplinary team who met yesterday had not considered this when thinking about hormone therapy. So if I had not been on the ball, and had not already checked that a history of blood clots is a contra-indication for Tamoxifen, and queried it with her, I might have been put on that. Not good.
The alternative is monthly injections – for an instant menopause – and a daily pill to suppress the oestrogen that post-menopausal women still make. I won’t run down the list of possible side effects – and I would probably be unlucky to get them all – but it doesn’t sound like fun.
I don’t have to do it of course. Apparently, without any more therapy at all, I have a 95% chance of still being alive in 10 years time, and I still have more chance of dying of an unrelated cause than I do of dying of cancer within that time frame. I have an 82% chance of still being alive and cancer-free in 10 years time. Or I could try the drugs, which decrease the risks just a tiny bit more, and if I start raging, overheating, vomiting, etc. etc. to an intolerable extent, I could just stop. Or maybe it won’t be too bad.
You would think I would be elated tonight, with the banishing of the prospect of more serious disease and further surgery. I actually just feel flat and exhausted. This is probably partly because I was running on adrenalin – now dissipated – in the lead-up to the clinic visit. I also think it’s some kind of fear of being left alone with the aftermath of all this now. Everyone knows that surgery is a bit of a crisis, and treats you accordingly. But there’s nothing sexy or interesting about ongoing menopausal symptoms is there? Or any other invisible, silent (as yet unknown) fallout of this episode. It’s not all over for me.
B says I don’t have to have cancer in order to be worth paying attention to. Good! So, while I can now start to pick up the threads I have dropped for the last few weeks, maybe I should still ask for – and allow myself to accept – all the TLC that’s going. Bring it on.