Friday, September 28, 2012
To the Perimeter
During those long training hours leading up to my Ironman 70.3, my mind wandered far and wide, cycling through the To Do list, my plans for the evening and weeks to come, the status of my relationships, all the way out to the perimeters of wildest dream and deepest fears. I had moments of confidence that breast cancer was firmly in the past and I will live a long healthy life. And I had moments of dark foreboding in which I worried that as soon as I had the triathlon behind me and faced the upcoming round of cancer-related checkups, I would be thrown back into fighting for my life.
Right now I don't know what I'm up against, but I do know the coast is not clear. The first red flag came in the form of slightly out of whack blood test result. I got a call from the oncology nurse following my every-three-month check-up saying "Nothing to worry about" but I should re-test in six (now four) weeks.
The second red flag came yesterday.
Because I take Tamoxifen, I see a gynecologist every six months for an ultrasound of my uterus. This drug makes a bigger difference to my survival chances after breast cancer than chemo and radiation combined. Unfortunately, it can also cause endometrial cancer. (FYI: The endometrium is the lining to the uterus.) Mine, as it turns out, is quite a bit thicker than it was six months ago. "Probably polyps," says the doctor, which will require surgery, but nothing compared to the hysterectomy I'd be facing if it turns out to be cancer.
On Monday I'll undergo a sonohysterogram, which is like a souped up ultrasound in which they squirt saline solution up into the uterus through the cervix. I've had one before, back in the miscarriage days. It's a crampy, uncomfortable affair, and like all such through-the-cervix things, reminiscent of an abortion procedure, a traumatic association for me.
But I will be glad to have more information.
At least I hope I will be glad.