I mentioned in a previous post, which you can check out here- that I was waiting for biopsy results from the two tiny spots that were seen on my recent CT scan. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I got the call from my doctor with the results.
Those results showed no sign of malignancy! Yay! Great news! So, we are done, right??? Well, NO. Apparently, the doctor was only able to get a sample from one of the two tiny spots. So what about that second spot?
When I had the CT scan done, the radiologist suggested possibly doing a PETscan as a follow-up, but Dr. Saker said that he didn't want to do one because the areas with a lot of scar tissue would be lighting up all over the place and possibly causing concerns over nothing. He chose to do an ultrasound and biopsy instead. Now, however, he said that he wanted me to go ahead and have a PETscan done. Just to be on the safe side and to put my mind at rest.
I had been getting my test and scan results over the phone, but I was told I would have to go into Dr. Saker's office for the PETscan results.
It turned out that I couldn't get an appointment with Dr. Saker until the following week. So, another weekend to get through without knowing. That just wouldn't do. Wait, they post the results on the patient portal, right?? Should I try to decipher the online results? All of that medical speak?? That would probably be a stupid thing to do, right??
SO, OBVIOUSLY, I READ THE RESULTS ONLINE
Looking back, that was NOT a good idea! After spending awhile staring at the document that said, "Discrete Results," I decided it was bad. Really bad. I spent the weekend trying to act normal because I wasn't going to say anything about reading the results before seeing Dr. Saker. I mean, I didn't really know what all of the jargon meant. So I kept quiet. I took a Xanax.
Ray went in with me for my appointment. Dr. Saker entered the room and said, "Pam, first of all, there is no bad news! Only I have to qualify that. We still don't know exactly what the little spot is. There is no evidence of metastatic disease. All major organs are clear, as well as the breast area where the mastectomy was performed."
So, I guess my medical-jargon deciphering skills leave a bit to be desired! Whew!! Anyway, Dr. Saker said that we could just do nothing since he really didn't think there was anything to worry about. He said that another option would be to see a surgeon for his opinion. Since my surgeon had recently retired, he said that even if the surgeon said we should just keep an eye on the spot and do nothing at this time, I would at least have met a new surgeon in case I needed one at a later time. So, it was decided. I would see the surgeon.
I saw Dr. Schwartz on Monday. I liked him a lot, but I have to admit the statement he made after reading my test results was a bit confusing.
"There is no good or bad answer to this?!" He said that he doesn't think the spot is anything worth doing surgery for at this time. He said that the area under my arm now looks like a war-zone, and it would be difficult to go in there without possibly doing some additional damage. He said that we would do another PETscan in six months. If the spot is the same or smaller, we do nothing. If it has increased in size, we would then remove it. He said that six months will not make a difference. I'm going to trust his judgment.
So now, I'm not so stressed about my health. Whatever that tiny spot is, it is not metastatic breast cancer. However, the extra expense of all of the tests and scans is replacing that stress. Boy, does it add up quickly! Again, whoever said money can't buy happiness may be right, but it can darn sure make a cancer journey a lot less stressful on the patient and her family members.
COPING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY
So how am I coping with the stress and anxiety these days? Honestly, not as well as I would like, but I'm working on it!
Running has always been a big stress reliever for me, but over the past few years, running has not always been possible. Even now, I still have a lot of body aches and pains daily. Some probably due to aging, but some of them the doctors say are definitely caused by Letrozole, which I take daily. Sometimes I can push through the pain, but not always. It seems that the times that I need the stress relief that running used to afford me, the very most, are the very times I can't run due to physical issues.
I recently discovered, though, that you don't necessarily have to run to get a runner's high! Who knew? Certainly not me, because running has always been my drug of choice! Did you know that all forms of exercise can ease anxiety and depression? When you exercise, whether it's walking, yoga, moving to music, or something else you enjoy doing that gets you moving, your brain releases those feel-good chemicals that give your body a chance to better deal with stress.
So now, instead of stressing over not being able to run to relieve the NEVERENDING STRESS.....I turn to other forms of exercise when need be. Sometimes just some simple stretching and breathing exercises help tremendously. And you can't beat a nice walk. Especially on a crisp autumn day like today!
For the record, I walked just over 1.5 miles today. Also for the record, I would still rather be running! But walking is a decent substitute!