I had my three-monthly check up the other day.
Once you’ve had cancer your specialists share you around. You see one of them every three months for the first three years. Then it drops back to every six months.
Because my mastectomy threw the order out I saw my surgeon last week. I’m three months off three years since diagnosis.
This is exciting.
If people with triple negative get to three years our risk of recurrence drops substantially. By five years we’re back to the same level of risk as the general population.
Like most people in my situation I was starting to feel a little anxious. Only three months to go! What if it came back in the mean time!
Then this thought occurred to me; there’s a much higher risk in the first eighteen months after diagnosis and my risk has been steadily REDUCING since then. It’s not as if I get to a particular point on the calendar and I’m suddenly less likely to get cancer again. I’m actually reducing my risk every single day that I’m alive.
This helps me to deal with what I think of as ‘finish line panic’.
When I saw my surgeon she was happy. She told me she wished she could take photos of me to show recently diagnosed triple negative patients. She thanked me for this blog and the way it’s being used by other people in my situation to navigate the distress of diagnosis and the long haul of treatment. I felt pretty humbled by it, given that this woman cuts cancer out of people’s bodies for a living.
I wasn’t due to have scans for three months but based on my obvious good health my surgeon has decided to call it early. She’s declaring me well and I think that’s fair given that I could have been diagnosed three months earlier (I had four tumours by the time they found it).
I had the usual trepidation about having a bone scan and a CT scan. No matter how well I look there’s always that fear. I looked really well when they picked up the post surgical, post radiation calcification that turned out to be invasive cancer, so looking well and feeling great only goes so far.
My happy news is that I am completely and totally cancer free! It’s a huge relief and a bit like suddenly finding myself at the top of a mountain I’ve been climbing for three years. I’m slightly disoriented. I’ve had my head down and my focus on climbing for so long that I’d forgotten there was life beyond it.
Hopefully it’s all downhill from here.
Meanwhile, as a way to remind myself that life, however short it may be, goes on, I’ve been learning more about blogging and building web sites.
Encouraged by the lovely feedback I’ve had from so many of you, I’ve now built a site that’s all about my great passion, permaculture. Yes, as you’d expect, there’s a fair bit of gardening, but there’s going to be plenty there for non-gardeners too.
If you like my writing and you think that you’d like a break from reading about cancer, here’s the link:
I plan to keep coming back here when I have something relevant to say about life after cancer. Otherwise I’ll be over there, and out in the world, living life after cancer.
My love and best wishes to all of you still in treatment. Know that recovery is possible.
Cancer is a word. Not a sentence.