Three weeks post surgery and it was time to see my oncologist. I had planned to take a friend with me but when the day came, I felt there was something about the appointment that I wanted to handle on my own. The London Oncology Centre will always bring back memories of chemotherapy and of heavy times discussing the cancer and treatment options. For this appointment, I wanted to face the place alone, together with my feelings about it.
We had a long conversation about next steps. First up of course radiotherapy. My oncologist said that this time she couldn’t really see a way around it. I was already prepared for this, following conversations with my surgeon. She took her time to give me lots of details about the treatment and answer any questions I had. I agreed to follow her guidance and have 15 sessions of radiotherapy. She assured me that most people went through the treatment without significant side effects. Apparently the days of burnt skins, blisters and exit points are now over. I still find the concept of having high energy rays so close to my heart frightening. It is scary, but not half as scary as chemotherapy was. And of course, as with most western medicine’s cancer treatments, there are risks of secondary cancers, namely lung cancer. Apparently it is a low risk, much higher risk in smokers. Tamoxifen, of course, also has risks of secondary cancers of the womb. Sometimes I want to despair of the fact that after all these years we are still left with options to burn, poison and cut out cancer.
Talking of Tamoxifen, she also addressed the issue of hormone therapy. The lab results had finally come back and shown that it’s once again 7/8 estrogen and 8/8 progesterone hungry. The results on HER2 were negative again – which was good news. I asked her whether she’d agree that the tamoxifen I’ve been taking for over 2.5 years had basically not worked. While not that simple and it may have slowed the growth of things, it is not doing its job as well as it could. So, with that in mind, we will be having conversations about chemically shutting down my ovaries with a different tablet and monthly injections. Apparently there aren’t that many other options apart from removing the ovaries altogether which seems like a drastic step at the moment. I felt immediately worried about going into some chemically induced menopausal state again. I remember too well how I felt when I had a phase of this for 6 weeks post chemo. I felt all over the place, hot flushes at night and sometimes during the day. I feel upset about the prospect of this again but know that we need to do something. We said we would discuss this in more detail in a few weeks following radiotherapy.
Radio therapy will start at the end of May and will run for 15 consecutive days. I feel strangely calm about this, maybe that will change on the actual day of having the treatment. I’m more nervous about hormone therapy.
I felt heavy and upset when I left my oncology appointment and kept thinking: why is this happening again? Why me? Why now? The same kind of questions I asked myself not too long ago. Luckily, I was heading to a dinner party straight afterwards which was probably the best thing that could have happened. It gave me enough time en route to digest the conversation but not enough time to throw myself into worrying and get into a spin about everything. I had a great evening, followed by another great evening, hosting a Eurovision song party at my place. At one point in the evening, I looked around the room and felt so much Love for everyone and for everything in my life. It really touched me deeply. Grateful!