Last week I had my checkup with my oncologist. Sometimes I’m not even sure why I keep having these appointments because as I’ve mentioned before, we pretty much have the same discussions now at each one. This is a good thing. A really good thing. I am not complaining. I don’t want to have a lot to talk about with him anymore.
I had no tests done (other than blood work) because my oncologist follows the guidelines, which means no tests are offered without symptoms. This is still hard for me to accept sometimes. Admittedly, I wish there were a scanner I could be sent through once a year to see what’s going on in there, but of course, this is not the way things work in Cancer Land.
At this appointment one new thing we did discuss was screening for pancreatic cancer. As you probably know, I am brca2+ and this means I am at greater risk for other cancers such as ovarian (removed those parts), melanoma (can’t remove my skin, sorta need that) and pancreatic, to name a few.
As you also probably know, there aren’t good screening tools for pancreatic cancer. But there are some that are recommended sometimes. That’s why I’m bringing this up. If you think you might be at greater risk, you can discuss this sort of screening with your doctor. Thank you to my friend, Nicki Boscia Durlester, administrator of the Facebook page Beyond the Pink Moon, for sharing these two links with info about this. Here’s one. Here’s the other.
As far as screening for pancreatic cancer via an MRI (due to some family history and my brca2+ status), my oncologist and I agreed to think about this some more. He also suggested I see a dermatologist soon for some skin spot issues…
I also asked him for his opinion on using the term cured for people “successfully treated” for early stage breast cancer. I told him about my friend Jody, mentioning that her cancer metastasized 15 years after her initial diagnosis. His response was:
Breast cancer is sneaky like that. So no, I don’t use that term.
We also agreed I will stay the course on Exemestane. For now. We will revisit in six months.
I love his advice about thinking in shorter time frames (instead of five more years) and I told him so. He smiled and smiled upon hearing this. I guess oncologists like to receive compliments regarding their advice and such too.
So, six years out and I am still NED (no evidence of disease). And by the way, you will never hear me using the phrase, “dancing with NED”. For some reason I dislike that phrase. Go figure.
I am tremendously grateful to still be NED. But I don’t feel euphoric or anything; I know better. And yes, I still feel pissed off at cancer for being such a conniving, unwelcome intruder that burst into my family’s life. Things have not been the same since that day. And yes, I am allowed to remain pissed off at cancer. And no, this does not mean I am an angry person or being negative. I’m being honest!
But again, I am grateful. I move forward.
I am changed. I am not changed. I am still me.
I keep living my life as best I can.
I am still NED.
But I’ll skip the dancing.
If applicable, does your oncologist do any tests (for recurrence) without symptoms?
Regardless of your situation, how do you feel about the phrase, dancing with NED?
Do you have any family history of pancreatic cancer?