Breast cancer comes with its own world of procedures and protocol and when you first start on the journey to getting cured (fingers and toes crossed) you do not know the map of what happens, when and how.
I found even asking other survivors was not clear and I think a lot of that is because you just try to forget as much as you can as fast as you can. I mean, there are some days that I forget I even have/had breast cancer (I prefer to say "had" but the timeline to being cured is 2-3 years post initial diagnosis, barring any findings). So, I will say "had" but really I still am in treatment and even post treatment, I am still in this in between world of cancer-free and cancer-NOT-free.
At the end of May, I had my oncology follow up after finishing chemo and I was worried about what it would entail. This month, I had my follow up with my surgeon and I was remarkably less nervous. I was calm going in for this follow up even though I had no idea what would happen.
For the oncology follow up post-chemo, you do blood work and it is a lot of blood not like the usual finger squeeze this is the full vein set up and they check you for everything. The blood work though was done at the end of the appointment and you are called about the results. The actual follow up is similar to your during chemo appointments - you are asked about symptoms and checked to make sure your breast(s) and/or chest area are clear with physical exam. Also if you are on medication of any kind to cease your hormones (if you are estrogen/progesterone positive you will be put into medically induced menopause as the hormones drove your cancer).
As I am on the "young" side (ha) and my cancer was hormone driven, I get 3-month oncologist meetings to administer medication via needle to stop my ovaries from producing eggs. I also take the daily pill to suppress my hormones, too. Even though without this medically induced menopause, most women find their fertility demolished by cancer treatments in general. I am thankful my family planning was done but I still need to be very careful and maintain the menopause as my body would not be able to handle a pregnancy.
For the first surgeon follow up, you are just physically checked out and set up for your next appointment in 6 more months. At the one year post surgery visit, you have mammography, ultrasound and/or physical exam of the chest area to make sure you are still clear.
I realized today that it has been 6+ months since my surgery. Time definitely does fly and like I said you just want to get to that point where it is all in your review mirror and a distant memory. You cannot rehash it everyday and/or think about it obsessively. It is what it is. You might never know why you got cancer, but you got it. At least now you know what happens at those 6 month visits.
I am assuming my visits with the oncologist will continue to just be blood work and exam but I will update once I get to the next visit.
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