I did something stupid.
See, last May after my surgery found 35 positive lymph nodes for the big C, my doctors ordered bone scans and CT scans to see if the cancer had ventured out to other parts. Thank goodness, it hadn’t.
But my CT scan picked up a couple of small nodules on my right lung. The radiologist said it was probably “post infection” and to retest in 6-12 months.
So I made the appointment a little over a week ago. And I got a little freaked out. I asked my Facebook friends to send me good thoughts.
That was stupid.
The scan itself was easy. But about a day later, I got a message on my cell from my surgeon saying that the nodules were “more prominent”.
Wait. What? Really?! What?!
Who leaves a message like that?! Seriously.
So I called but she was in with a patient. I called my oncologist but she was out for the week. I called my nurse navigator and left her a message.
It was stressful.
Prominent? What the heck does that mean?
So I finally got call back from the Nurse Navigator who said that the pre-existing nodules were actually unchanged (which is good) but that there was some new stuff. It was tiny and fuzzy.
She didn’t know much else. My surgeon was talking to my oncologist. They were going to refer me to a pulmonologist. Blah, blah, blah.
I got the scan on a Wednesday, by Friday, I was freaked out. I was able to read the CT scan report. But I am not a doctor. Who knew what this was?!!!
It was scary, nerve-wracking and depressing.
My husband and I spent Friday morning eating pancakes… and crying a little. I was fully prepared to be told I was now Stage IV.
I forced myself to go to my Living Strong, Living Well class. But I was pretty grumpy. I returned home Friday afternoon to find another message from my surgeon telling me that my oncologist had looked at my films and it did not look like metastatic cancer to her.
So that’s good.
But we don’t really know what it is that is going on.
I had a bunch of appointments last week. The first being with my oncologist who is not sure what is in my lung. The next was with the pulmonologist who suggested many hypotheses. It could be post-infection, it could be TB (?!), it could be pneumonia, it could be mold. She asked if I grew up in a smoker’s household (I did). She said that looking at my family history and listening to me, I am probably a touch asthmatic. She listened and decided to get a sputum sample. Ewww! She needed three in fact.
I could not hock up a loogie on demand so I had to breathe in saline through a nebulizer. It sounds worse than it is.
Finally I saw my radiation oncologist for my scheduled check up. He was pretty straight with me. He said that my lung stuff is one of three things:
1. An infection of some kind (which is what it looks like).
2. A side effect of radiation (which he says, it doesn’t look like)
3. Metastatic breast cancer (which he says it also doesn’t look like- but he said that with over 30 positive lymph nodes, we can never rule it out)
He told me to be happy that I feel good. Keep taking tamoxifen and re-scan in two months to see if anything is going on.
He said that my cancer was serious and that it was ok because they were going to follow me closely.
Also, I think he tried to sell me prescription sunscreen…that was a little weird.
And I walked away feeling somewhat worried (although worrying is pointless) and forcing myself to breathe deep, deep breaths. Being zen is the only thing that helps, really.
My sons knew what was going on. We can’t keep anything from them anyway. My little one directly asked me what was going on and I told him that we have to wait and see.
“But today, I feel ok and that is a gift. Being with you is a gift every single day,” I told him.
I wish I could tell him that everything will be 100% ok forever. I so truly wish I could tell him that. But it’s like my radio oncologist said, what happened to me is serious and we can never completely rule out metastasis.
And to tell my children that the cancer will never ever come back would be a horrible, terrible lie. And I won’t lie to my boys but I also don’t need to scare the crap out of them either. I try to be honestly optimistic with them.
And we’re just taking it day by day.
But the stupid thing I did was posting that thing on Facebook because after we got not so great and kind of incomplete news, I didn’t want to say anything on Facebook anymore. I mean, I really didn’t think anyone would have wanted a blow by blow report of our week-long ordeal.
But then people were coming up to me, asking how the scan went and I didn’t know what to say. Because like my new nodules, it’s kind of fuzzy.
There’s just this big question mark over this. I’m being “watched closely” but I don’t know what will happen in two months.
I am glad that the fuzzies don’t look like cancer. That’s good.
This is all kind of part of the new normal.
But I decided at the beginning, that I would try very hard not to live my life in fear of metastasis. Fear and worry are wasted emotions. So I meditate. I go to my happy place and when that’s done I try to fake it ’til I make it.
I’m drawing and painting and playing the flute (no kidding). I bake. The other day, I was home alone and bored so I baked a chocolate cake from scratch. It was delicious. I work out. I take my dog for walks. I spend time with my kids and husband. I send cards and gifts to people. I see friends. I plant flowers. I read. I meditate. I sleep. I watch movies. I play Harry Potter Lego. I sew. I keep to myself a little more. I don’t waste thoughts on things that aren’t worth it. I try not to worry. I focus on the positive.
I’m just living.
Like I said, every day is a gift. That is true for everyone, cancer or no.
I try not to forget that.