Surviving Breast Cancer is a Full Time Job

Last week was a busy week. I attended a high energy conference in Chicago. I came home on Monday, August 18, which was also our 41st wedding anniversary.

My train arrived at 11:00 AM. My husband met me at the depot wearing his bright pink shirt. We went out for breakfast followed by my annual mammogram at 1:00 PM.

I have discovered over the past two years, that there are many details to staying on top of all the follow up appointments. I have to keep track of blood draws – where and when; every six months the once cancerous breast has a mammogram; and then there is the annual bilateral mammogram; and finally the office visits with the oncologists.

Last week one of the members in my support group mentioned how she finds keeping up with these appointments and details exhausting. And, at times, she will cancel an appointment and reschedule because she is tired and anxious. The anxiety and waiting wears you down. An interesting discussion in Facebook ensued and we soon discovered that many of us find we have to limit our survivor appointments to no more than two a day. Anything over that is overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong, we are happy to be survivors, however, our “new normal” is not the same life we had before. Yes, there is much to be grateful for, yet we would love to have our lives fully given back to us. 

My monthly calendar fills up with medical appointments quickly.  Some are purposely clustered together.  We do what we have to do to keep the risk of recurrence low.  Juggling these appointments would be a lot easier if we had someone to do it for us.  Instead of a personal secretary we could have a breast cancer secretary.  He/she would have to be well organized and love the color pink.

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2 thoughts on “Surviving Breast Cancer is a Full Time Job

  1. Wendy: I thought I was already following all your blogs and then today I discovered this one. So glad I did. Keeping up with all the appointments can be exhausting. Perhaps a spa day, or some other relaxing activity (or lack of activity), is in order. 🙂 I am so glad you are healthy and the appointments are helping to keep you that way, but it would be nice to be done with them wouldn’t it?

    I’m more than a decade out from my breast cancer diagnosis and the appointments are usually limited to 2 per year – one for the mammogram and one with the oncologist. However, I have missed both those appointments for the past few years since having kids and the anxiety of that is stressing me out as much as the annual diagnostic mammogram used to. Missed a mammogram due to pregnancy and then postponed follow up ones because I was breastfeeding. Now I find myself without insurance so who knows when I’ll have my next mammogram (it’s been about 3 years). I am scared; particularly since my young cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Once you become a cancer survivor, no matter how many years go by, there is always that idea of cancer looming in the back of your mind. You never forget it. For the most part, I am confident that I will remain healthy but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. And more to the point of your post, even with all the constant appointments there is still worry, or at least a bit of nervousness until you’re told that the mammogram doesn’t show anything unusual and things look good. The appointments can be overwhelming and the worry is exhausting. I just unleashed some of my worries right here. Thanks for letting me.

  2. Rachel, as always, I enjoy your comments. Like it or not, it is important for us to stay on top of our follow up. We are our own advocate. Being on high alert for recurrence is exhausting but necessary.

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