Today I had my 9 month check up with my radiologist. It still feels weird to say I have a radiologist. I’m 40 years old, talking like I’m 70.
Last night I slept in my good luck pajamas – striped tank top and grey sweatpants. I always wear these the night before any doctor’s appointment or test. Today I wore my good luck outfit – black skirt, maroon top and gold/silver/peach necklace my sister gave me for my 40th birthday. I wear this outfit the day of any doctor’s appointment or test. Call me crazy or superstitious. But these rituals have helped me stay calm and seem to bring me good news. So why mess with a good thing.
I drove to the hospital today for my appointment and parked in my usual spot. They reserve parking spots for cancer patients. Nice that they do that. Kind of messed up that one of those spots is reserved for me. I spent 5 days a week for 8 weeks parking in that spot. I never got used to parking there or walking into the Cancer Center. People always looked at me funny when I parked there, like I shouldn’t be the one getting out of that car parked in that spot. I know the feeling.
I walked into the hospital and signed in. The receptionist said, “Hi. Nice to see you.” It was nice to see her too, but I have to be honest, it wasn’t nice to be back in that place. As I sat in the waiting room, I saw many women with bald heads. The feelings of being in active treatment came quickly rushing back – swiping my cancer badge to get checked in, undressing and putting on my robe, laying on the cold treatment table, having the technicians get me ready for my treatment, then the technicians leaving the room so they weren’t exposed to the high levels of radiation that was about to be zapped into me.
I’m so glad to be done with that. I was now the woman in the waiting room with an acceptable amount of hair. If I wasn’t in a cancer center, you would have no idea I ever had breast cancer. It’s kind of amazing that it’s been 9 months since I finished my treatments. Some days it feels like it just ended yesterday. Other days it feels like its been years.
All my doctors tell me that most patients find symptoms of recurrence on their own in between doctor’s appointments. They say you just know when the cancer has come back. I’ve been feeling pretty good lately and don’t have any pain, which I’m grateful for. So I wasn’t really worried. But I can’t help listening to that little voice in my head that says maybe I’m not checking myself carefully enough. I felt good and didn’t have any pain before and even weeks after my diagnosis, so I like to get the official word from my doctors that everything looks good to them.
My radiologist today did the usual check up, which included a breast exam. After she was done, she wrote down in my chart NED. That’s cancer lingo for no evidence of disease. YIPPEE!!! HOORAY!!! I’m certainly relieved to see those 3 little letters written down next to my name.
My radiologist said she didn’t want to see me again for another year. That’s good news too. I left the hospital feeling really happy. So I bought myself my favorite flowers – lots of beautiful red gerber daisies. So vibrant. So perky. So full of life.
Time to celebrate!