I know it seems like everything I’ve written lately is about cancer. I get it, you’re sick of reading about it. Hell, I’m sick of writing about it. It’s a huge part of my life though and even though I try really hard to minimize its affect on my life in normal daily conversation – I can’t help but to use this medium to vent my anger, fear, concerns, elation, etc.
Today, I go in for my quarterly check up with my Oncologist. It comes on the heels of the three-year-anniversary of my diagnosis and days before what I consider my “cancerversary.” I’m a bundle of nerves. But I know exactly how the appointment with go. Here it is:
– I’ll make the 15 minute drive to her Irvine office and pull into the same parking lot where I parked every two weeks three years ago to get pumped with chemo. I try to force myself to park somewhere else but I always pick the same stall.
– I’ll walk past Steinmart, the karate studio, a handful of alternative health offices and make my way to the stairs. These stairs were a killer during treatment. I’ll look down below at the Barnes and Nobel and the breakfast crowd at Ruby’s. I’ll see the lake view from across the street.
– I’ll open the door and the smell of the office instantly takes me back to Thursday afternoons in the chemo room with all the other bald headed men and women. At least it was a safe place where we felt free to go without anything on our heads.
– I won’t recognize the faces behind the desk because for some reason the front office staff turn over is quite high there.
– I’ll sit on the lumpy blue couch and stare at the same books titled “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Courage” on the table. I’ll try checking my Facebook or Twitter and realize they still don’t have Wi-Fi in the office. Dumb.
– I’ll get quizzical looks from the other men and women far older than me wondering what the hell I’m doing there.
– The Onc’s medical assistant will call me back and we’ll stop at the scale where I’ll stand in amazement at the ever growing number. Ugh. I know a lecture will also come.
– We’ll walk into room number one and she’ll take my blood pressure – always from the right arm – and my temperature.
– She’ll tell me to take off all my clothes from above the waist and to put on a paper gown with the opening in the front.
– And I’ll wait for the Onc. Trying to check Facebook or Twitter again.
– My Oncologist will come in wearing her white lab coat with her name stitched in blue and her usual brown pants and boots. She will greet me with a big smile and give me her trademark awkward-one-arm hug. She’ll sit at her computer and ask how I’ve been feeling all the while typing my responses.
– We’ll talk about the results of my recent CBC, my weight, my medications, my vitamin D and calcium intake, what kind of exercise I’m doing, and this appointment we’ll also talk about my recent bone density test (I’m really anxious in hearing how much bone loss I have since last being tested two years ago).
– She’ll open my paper gown and start pressing on and around my neck, collarbone, and my armpits looking for swollen lymph nodes. “Please don’t let there be any” I’ll pray inside. She’ll then make a fist and tap on my back asking “does this hurt?” and “does this hurt?” Next, I will lay back on the table and she will examine my breasts for changes followed by an exam. Finally she will press on my belly asking again “does this hurt?”
– Next is when I start my listing my concerns or complaints. I’m going to tell her that even though my CT scan came back clear that I still have pain in my left hip that radiates down to my knee. I’ll tell her that my hands and feet are really starting to hurt again and ask if that’s due to Femera. I might even mention that I think my hair is thinning out and confirm that this is a side effect of menopause.
– I’ll ask her about the new Aromatase Inhibitor that is out and if I should try taking that instead of the Femera. I’ll also tell her that I’m planning on stopping the Effexor because the low dose isn’t doing anything for my hot flashes and I refuse to start taking a larger dose. It makes me feel numb.
– She’ll tell me – hopefully – that everything looks good and she’ll see me in four months.
– I’ll get dressed, pick up my order for the next round of blood work and I’ll say goodbye to the strangers at the front desk.
– Sometimes I’ll stop at Steinmart on my way back to the parking lot but today I think I’ll get a coffee at Champagne’s and cruise through Barnes and Nobel before I head back to pick up my preschooler.
Wish me luck. What’s on your schedule today?