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the life of a former cancer patient | necessary doctor appointments
The blog moved! Click to join us at Wendy-Nielsen.com

‘Tis the Life of a Former Cancer Patient

February 23, 2012

‘Tis the life of a former cancer patient and it’s time for the quarterly check-up with the oncologist. My anxiety has reached a fever pitch – as it normally does – but I’m feeling confident that all will go as planned.

I originally published this post back in October of last year. I’m hoping not much changes.

    • 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 and finally 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. My stomach will turn at the thought of the chocolate Coke I drank while getting my first round of chemo. I haven’t been able to have one ever since.

A typical chemo room

    • I’ll open the door and the smell of the office will instantly take me back to Thursday afternoons in the chemo room with a hand full of bald men and far too many women in bad wigs. I never wore a wig except in the privacy of my own bathroom where I promptly ripped it off and threw it back in the depths of my closet.
    • I won’t recognize the faces behind the desk. Long gone is the receptionist who always knew my name and my two favorite nurses to have moved on to other offices.
    • I’ll sit on the lumpy blue couch that is always littered with dust bunnies and stray hair. The same self-help books titled Faith, Hope, and Courage sit on the table round table in the middle of the room. I’ll whip out my iPhone and try checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and realize the office still doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Lame.
    • I’ll get a quizzical glance from the other patients far older than me wondering what the hell I’m doing there.
    • The nurse will call me into the back and we’ll stop at the scale where I’ll stand in amazement at the ever growing number. Ugh. I know a lecture from my oncologist will also come.
    • We’ll walk into room number one making small talk about how crazy the weather is, she’ll take my blood pressure – always from the right arm – and my temperature.
    • She’ll pull out a paper gown from the drawer beneath the exam table. She’s instruct me to take everything off from the waist up and keep the opening of the gown in the front.
    • And I’ll wait for my oncologist by trying to check Facebook or Twitter, again. Still nothing. I may even hear her in the room next to mine which always freaks me out.
    •  My doctor 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.

Evidence of the blood draw for the CBC done last week

  • 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. She’ll ask lot of personal questions – though too personal to share here – and we’ll definitely talk about my crazy thin hair!
  • 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?”
  • Then I start listing my concerns or complaints – which are few this time around, thankfully.
  •  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.

On the way out I’ll stop into Steinmart and do a celebratory browse.  Today , I think, I’ll pop in for a hot tea at Champagne’s before I head back to pick up my preschooler and go on with the rest of our day.  What do you have planned for today?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly February 23, 2012 at 7:54 am

Well, I would love to celebrate the fact that today I am a three year survivor, however, I am trying to still recover from treatment that I had two days ago, wrap my head around the fact that I was told I will never be able to have any more children given the intense chemo I have received, and figure out how to go on with life like nothing has ever happened. It’s just one of those days.


Dee Anne Barker February 23, 2012 at 8:58 am

LUV this post! Do all cancer patients think this way or is it just you and I (doubt it)? I take all those minute details into consideration too – even down to the emergency pull cord in the Cancer Center’s waiting room bathroom which, I always have a hankering to pull! And I so get your chocolate coke nausea. I still can’t eat Sun Chips from 20 yrs. ago from my first diagnosis.

At any rate, you go celebrate Wendy! Dance, kick your heals up or shop ’til you drop! You deserve it!


Margot February 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Great post! I have this same experience every 6 months when I go back for my “you still don’t have cancer anymore” appointment.


Natalie February 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Great post! I only wish the best wishes !


Melissa February 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Wendy thank for sharing this incredibly personal experience. I have many friends and relatives fighting cancer. It is painful to watch those that I love suffer and feel so helpless.I am sure you have many people loving and supporting you too. I admire your courage and determination. Best wishes.


Caryn Bailey February 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Hugs….great post and I am hoping for awesome news…..


Catalina February 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Every bit of good news is super. I wish you the best!


Amber February 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

I’m going to go ahead and assume everything went wonderfully. Yes? Here’s hoping…


Galit Breen February 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm

This is a fantastic (humbling) post.

(I hope this is exactly how it went.)


Wendy March 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Yep, all is well in these parts! Thank you!!


Wendy March 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

My heart started pounding for you. As much as I love those “all is well” visits, getting to them is hell. Glad it went ok.


Wendy March 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Thank you!!


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