Yesterday I met with my medical oncologist. As you know from yesterday's post I was expecting/dreading to be told that I was going to have to have chemo in addition to the radiation. And that dread must of been written all over my face, because everyone (the doctor, my BCN "breast care navigator" and my husband) all commented on how my face changed when the doctor said "You Don't Need Chemo." I felt like doing the happy dance. I will still start the radiation about 3 and half weeks after my next surgery and I will take a cancer drug every day for the next five years.
I learned something important from yesterdays visit. Talk about what you fear and ask questions. Sharon my BCN (another name would be patient advocate) was surprised that I had been worried about having chemo. After all, everyone has been telling me that my cancer is the "innocent" kind or the "good" kind in that it was a low stage, well defined, detected early and expected to respond well to treatment. (The topic of how the words innocent and good can be in the same sentence as the word cancer will have to be addressed on another day.) I explained about the conversation I had had last week with the surgeon and his speculation about the oncologist recommending chemo. She frowned and wanted to know why I hadn't called her. That's what she's for - to help me navigate my way through the system, the flood of medical jargon, and to translate for the doctors. Having worked on many other cancer cases with my surgeon and being very familiar with my medical history, she could have explained why the surgeon said what he said AND also given a better prediction of what the oncologist was going to recommend. Talking to her would have gone a long way to alleviating my fears. Trained librarian that I am, I failed to use all my resources and spent several days being fearful, cranky and taking it out on everyone near me. Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful network of family, friends and co-workers who are not likely to hold my week-long pity party against me.
And that brings me to something I read last night in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. Kris Carr's first tip for dealing with cancer is to get yourself a "posse". Some people do well with organized cancer support groups, while others need something more personal. Rather than go to the organized groups, Carr started asking her friends and co-workers if they knew of any other women her age who were going through something similar. That is how she pulled together her posse that she calls The Cancer Babes."
I'm not sure if I'll try to pull together my own Cancer Babes group or not. I often have times when I feel as though my "innocent" cancer (yep - there's some baggage on that term) is not "big" enough to warrant the roller coaster of emotions that I go through daily. (Again, intellectually I know feeling that way is nuts - realistically and emotionally - I can't deny that I sometimes feel guilty about being scared and worried when there are women with cancers that can't be treated much less cured. And what about the women who have fought cancer only to have it come back and with a vengeance?) So, yes I do foresee a support group in my future, I just don't know if I will be brave enough to go out and get my own like Kris Carr or if I'll find an established group - where I can hide in the corner. Stay tuned to find out.
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