A Frustrating Post-Op Appointment

I didn’t think I’d post today, but my post-op appointment with my oncologist was harder than I thought it would be. I guess I thought I’d waltz into the exam room and my doctor would go on about how I’m cancer free and life can finally return to normal.

Instead, she came into the room and brought up the remaining 3mm of cancer that was left in me at the time of surgery. She gave me statistics about my risk for recurrence, reminding me that recurrence after a double mastectomy would be distant, considered stage IV, and treatable but not curable.

She described a chemo-like infusion that could help with my risk of recurrence. This is where I lost it— I thought I was done with all of this! I thought that aside from hormone therapy and a few more rounds of targeted therapy I was off the hook! I thought I had amazing news and life could somehow settle into a new normal. Now I have more risks to worry about and need more infusions?

Here’s the kicker… My white blood cell count was too low to even start these infusions. My immune system isn’t strong enough for the medicine. So now I’m aware of my risk and aware of a drug that can help but unfortunately at this point I am not a candidate for that medicine.

While I didn’t actually receive any bad news, the appointment left me frustrated and emotionally exhausted. I think about recurrence all the time. Guilt floods in when I skip a workout or enjoy a glass of wine because it feels like I’m being irresponsible with my future.

Xavier saw my tears in the exam room and encouraged me to write about them. Maybe it will help someone with post-treatment anxiety feel less alone. I feel guilty because I have new friends who woke up from surgery to bad news. Some days I feel so lucky to have gotten good news. Other days I think “Why me?! My life was so beautiful and carefree before all this.”

On a brighter note, I started hormone therapy this week by adding daily Exemestane pills to my monthly Zoladex injections. I’ve had frustrating side effects from Zoladex since I started treatment but I’m happy to report that adding Exemestane to the mix hasn’t added any new side-effects to the list. I was worried about that.

It’s the little things! Hang in there and know that if you’re anxious or frustrated you are not alone.

hilary schleier