So today I went and got my other test results (blood test, biopsy of another anomaly) and spoke to the surgeon and breast cancer nurse about surgery on Wednesday. I probably won’t be blogging immediately after the surgery, not the least because they’ll be operating under my left arm (in the arm pit) and that means that typing and the like isn’t on the agenda for a few days.
I’ll state this up front – this whole thing seems so unreal. I am not obviously sick, I do not feel sick. Apart from some pain where the tumour apparently is against the chest wall, I don’t feel like I have cancer – whatever that feels like. Wednesday is going to make the whole thing a lot more real, and that’s both scary and reassuring. Scary because cancer is scary. Reassuring because I do feel a little like an imposter right now, because I feel mostly fine (just stressed).
Anyway – today’s visit to the hospital had my blood test results completely normal (with slight vitamin D deficiency which is unsurprising as it is winter), and the biopsy coming back completely clear. We went through all the process for the pre-op stuff, told how much it’s going to hurt (a fair amount), and how much I’m going to have to wait (a lot), and reassured about some of the side effects, like the blue dye that is used to trace the lymph node paths will stain my skin – that’s normal.
Also we went through some worst case scenarios, just so I was across them. The nurse was impressed that I was so calm and in control – that is my default state, I will probably fall apart later – and that’s ok too.
So a week off work (this week) and possibly some time of work next week to ensure I’m healing well. A further biopsy of the tumour after it has been removed builds the next step scenarios. Best case, I have 4 – 6 weeks of radiotherapy a month after surgery, and then on a drug for 5 – 10 years. Worst case, I have additional surgery and/or chemo before radiotherapy and medication for years.
Yes I’ll probably keep blogging about cancer, because writing stuff down helps me sort through it. I do want to blog about other things to, and once I’ve gotten the big bits out of the way, I’ll probably go back to doing just that.
I do want to say how grateful I am to have been born in Australia and eligible, thanks to my citizenship, to access free healthcare. All of this treatment will cost me very little. The medication will be the most costly part. The operation, radiotherapy, and consultation visits will be covered by my taxes and the paid taxes of other people. This is a fantastic thing, and means that I don’t have to ask myself if treating possible cancer is something I need to do or is it something I can live with. I do wish people in other countries without “socialised medical systems” could access the level of care that I will be accessing for the cost that I will be paying.