"How are you doing? Is everything all clear?"
I get those two questions a lot. And along the same lines as my post yesterday about the hair comments, I'm unsure of how to respond. A lot of people who've had cancer have regular scans after treatment. If they're lucky, nothing scary shows up and they get to dance with NED (no evidence of disease). If they're not lucky, at least the periodic scans give their doctors something to compare to so they can find out just how scary what they're dealing with is.
My last chemo was seven and a half months ago. My surgery to remove the cancer was six and a half months ago. My last radiation treatment was almost two months ago. Over the last few months I've seen my medical oncologist, my radiation oncologist, my surgical oncologist, my plastic surgeon and my gynecological oncologist. Not one of those doctors has mentioned any future scans for me. I'm not sure if it's not standard procedure for any of them, or if I just haven't reached the point where they would order them. I did ask my surgeon's office the other day and their response was that they don't request any imaging unless I'm symptomatic.
I have an appointment with my medical oncologist next week and I plan to ask him. While I don't want any unnecessary tests or to put myself through "scanxiety", the idea of waiting until I'm "symptomatic" is beyond scary. I had breast cancer that didn't even show up on a mammogram...if this beast comes back, think of how bad it might be by the time I actually have symptoms! I guess in my mind, having a clear scan is a form of closure. Thinking that no news is good news is a little too casual when you're talking about cancer. I don't want to assume that chemotherapy, surgery and radiation killed all of my cancer. I want to dance with NED.
Which leads me back to those two questions people keep asking me.
How am I doing? I'm tired all the time, my self-esteem is low, and I feel like someone who has fought breast cancer. I'm getting through each day. I'm doing what I can to be healthy, I'm building up my strength slowly but surely, and I'm making the most of every moment.
Is everything all clear? That's a good question, and I don't know how to answer it. All I can say is, "I hope so!"