So yesterday was a scheduled check up with the Dent Doctor. Armed with my little black book of questions, Pete and I arrived in his office on a blisteringly humid PMB morning.
After discussing “perfectly normal” nose bleeds, weight gain, swollen ankles and wrists, numb fingers and toes along with a mole I was a little worried about, we got onto the topic front and centre in my mind right now…. Radiation therapy…..
My concerns over this next treatment phase have specifically come about after speaking to other breast cancer survivors: not being able to radiate over previously radiated skin should the cancer return – was something I hadn’t even been aware of to worry about; the effect of radiation on the mobility of my arm with regards to my massaging career; and the issue of increased lymphoedema of my chest, underarm, arm and hand.
I wasn’t exactly sure what the Dent Doctor’s reply would be or how he would address these concerns, afterall this was a man who was giving the worst news to patients on a daily basis – people who are desperate to be given ANY treatment in order to give them more time – and here I was whining about the “what if’s”.
But he listened and didn’t attempt to bully me into any decisions I was not comfortable with. He just laid out the facts: the main tumour was large at 6cms, the perineural invasion and the two additional (albeit) small tumours….the fact that no matter how skilled my surgeon there would always be some tissue left which leaves a site open for cancer cells to develop, especially considering there is no way they could know what caused them to develop there in the first place….
Monitoring is not always accurate, mammograms are hampered by reconstruction (so are self examinations), ultrasounds are better but MRI’s are usually the best way they can keep check (but you can’t have those every month), something can always go undetected…. Under certain circumstances you can re-radiate……… and more compelling, radiation therapy HALVES whatever my chances are of developing any recurrance in the mastectomy site.
However he also said I needed to be comfortable and invested in the treatment going forward and offered to send me info on recurrance and radiation treatment.
His emails arrived as promised yesterday afternoon and all I can say reading the info for like the 3rd time through the haze and confusion of chemo brain was one thing…….”don’t ask if you don’t wanna know”.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement thatsomething else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmon
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” J.K. Rowling
“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” Jane Austen
“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” Yann Martel, Life of Pi