Yes, a lot of you know I am a breast cancer survivor and I know how lucky I am. But being a survivor doesn’t mean it totally leaves you.
I now need to have yearly diagnostic mammograms. However, at my last one, I was anxious. I tried not to be but it is there with you. The day I had the mammogram when the cancer was found in June of 2017, had been a very ordinary day. Well, maybe not because it was a week before my second marriage. With this diagnostic mammogram, you are ushered into another room so the radiologist can take a look at the mammogram. And there you sit waiting. I don’t think I breathed until the doctor came in and told me everything looked fine. I think my heart slowed and became normal. I don’t think this will ever change.
I will always carry the scars from the port, the lumpectomy and the removal of four lymph nodes. For some reason, they all, at some point become itchy. It is irritating trying to scratch these areas, especially the armpit where the lymph nodes were removed because there are spots where I don’t have any feeling. Try shaving an area that has a loss of feeling. Physical reminders of the battle. I also need to be aware of always having my blood pressure and blood drawn on my right arm. There is a concern for lymphedema, which is something I will need to be aware of and I do have a MedicAlert bracelet indicating this concern.
Then I feel quite uncomfortable exposing my toes. Sandals have become an issue for me in the summer. Taxol, one of the chemo drugs did a terrible number on my toenails. I heard that some people actually lose fingernails and toenails with Taxol so I am lucky that it only affected my toenails. But I did have both big toenails removed because they were so disfigured. My husband didn’t agree with the removal but I was the one who had to live with deformed toenails. I was also told that they could cause pain which is something I don’t need in my feet since I still have neuropathy in my toes from the Taxol. I have now switched to orthopedic shoes to help with the plantar fasciitis I have.
Since my breast cancer was estrogen driven, I am now on Exemestane. When I first started on this medication, there were only four medications available. The first two that I was put on, I had bad reactions to them. The Exemestane has been working the way my oncologist wants it to. But now I am gaining weight, my hair is thinning and my moods have been horrible. I already suffer from depression but my depression has me at the bottom of a black hole where I really don’t want to climb out of. When I was first started on this medication, I was told I needed to stay on it for five years. Now, after my regular visits with my oncologist, I found out that studies have shown that the longer women stay on this medication, the better are my chances for not having cancer re-occur. When I asked how much longer, I was told seven to ten years. Oh joy! Larger sizes in clothes, maybe wigs or turbans and more tissues are my future. Although I have an appointment with the psychiatrist and psychologist to help me with these horrible mood swings.
Yes, I am a breast cancer survivor and perhaps survivor is the proper term. I have daily reminders of what I went through. I was so determined to get through the chemotherapy and radiation. I wanted to fight it and overcome the cancer. I did, but it is something that I still have to deal with every day.