Cancer update #1

So yes, I’ll be blogging about cancer from time to time, as a way to keep everyone updated, and to save me having the same conversation over and over.  Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but I enjoy efficiency.

Today I had my appointment at the Royal Women’s Hospital to meet the breast surgeon, breast cancer nurse and find out more about the next steps.  I might have surgery as early as next week – which is much sooner than I anticipated.  The breast surgeon also wanted a biopsy of something that was noted in the first radiology report on my right breast just to be on the safe side, so I got one of those too.  It is most likely a regular, bog-standard lymph node, but the surgeon wants to be extra, extra sure because you shouldn’t mess around with cancer.

I was also told that the reason my tumour is so goddamn painful, is that it’s sitting on the chest wall – so that’s kinda helpful and still annoying.

I also need to get a blood test, but as I was insufficiently hydrated today, I’ll get that tomorrow after lunch.  Must go and get a glass of water.

This biopsy was far less painful.  I told the doctor performing it that I cried for an hour after the last one as it was so incredibly painful, so she made sure there was extra local anaesthetic and waited for it to take effect.  We also laughed a lot, which was nice, but weird when people are jabbing needles into you.  I don’t think they appreciated my joke that ultrasound gel is like semen in that it gets everywhere – and I probably should have self-censored that, but I have cancer, and some jokes get made.

So next steps are surgery (very soon), 6 – 8 weeks of healing (and hopefully no follow up surgery), 4 – 6 weeks of radiotherapy Monday through Friday, and then medication for 5 years.  This all assumes that my tumour tests negative to HER2, which I have an 80% of it doing so.

Just quietly, Breast Cancer information in Australia (at least) is incredibly cissexist.  Hugely cissexist, and it makes me uncomfortable.

How am I doing?  I’m pretty good right now.  Every now and again I feel overwhelmed with what’s happening and anxious – but that’s to be expected.  I like having plans, and knowing what’s going to happen next, even though some of that is a little nebulous and fluid because it depends on things we don’t yet know 100%.  I’m not particularly fussed about having scars on my breasts (something I used to think about as a kid anyway, because I liked the look of ritual scarification).  I am somewhat concerned about radiotherapy, because that sounds intense and annoying (but is also far enough away in the future for it not to be an immediate concern).  I am mostly ok with the idea of medication, I think I’ll be able to manage the common side-effects in a way that works for everyone concerned.

Also, outing yourself as non-monogamous at the hospital straight up is easy, particularly in Australia in the public health system in metropolitan hospitals (other areas may vary).  I brought both partners with me to the appointment, and made it very clear that they were my partners.  It was written in my file, along with my medical history, and everyone was cool with it. In fact one doctor said that I was lucky to have the extra support.

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