Lump Day: One-Year Radiation Follow-Up
Today was my one-year follow-up with Dr. E., my radiation oncologist. The appointment had been scheduled more than a year earlier, on my last day of radiation, and when I turned the page on the calendar last week and saw it marked for today, I wondered if I should keep it or if I should reschedule it for later in the summer, when (hopefully) things have died down a little. Then I realized that, ironically, a CANCER CENTER is probably the safest, most sterile place in the world these days. So I strapped on my big, bulky, uncomfortable N95 mask and set off.
I’ve been extremely blessed to have been able to stay tucked away safe and sound for the last seven weeks - Casey does the grocery run every week or so, when he needs to run to his office to pick up additional files or supplies. So aside from our occasional walks on nice evenings, a stop-in at my accountant’s office to sign my tax returns in April, and a trip through the pharmacy drive-through, I really haven’t left the house since all this started, and so I had no idea what to expect when I got there. They stopped me right inside the entryway to take my temperature and then sent me inside to tell the receptionist I was there; she had me initial two places on the insurance release, and the pen was wiped off with a disinfecting wipe both before and after I used it. The waiting room was empty except for one other patient on the far side of the room, and I was only there a minute or two before the nurse took me back to the exam room. She, the nurse practitioner, and Dr. E. all wore masks, and only Dr. E. came anywhere close to me, and then to do my breast exam and see how everything has healed. On my way out, I paid my copay and scheduled next year’s appointment (they’re seeing me once a year for five years). Lots of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and social distancing throughout the entire appointment. Back home, just to be safe, I threw my clothes in the wash and reshowered and shampooed, none the worse for wear.
Dr. E. was pleased with how well I’ve healed from the surgery and radiation - my scars are barely noticeable, and while that side of my torso has contracted a bit, my skin looks healthy, and I’m showing no signs of lymphedema. When she did the breast exam, she didn’t feel anything she didn’t expect to feel with all the scar tissue. I asked her about the lung nodules that had appeared on my CT scan, and she said she saw nothing to be concerned about and felt that regular monitoring of them would suffice. She listened to my lungs and said they sound perfectly clear. She also said that since I didn’t have chemo, I’m at no greater risk for COVID-19 than I would have been had I never had cancer, which I was glad to hear.
All in all, a fantastic report!
Next week is the mammogram and ultrasound Dr. P. ordered after the CT scan, to ensure that what she believes to be just scar tissue really IS just scar tissue. And May 26 is my next CT scan. Fingers crossed that they both go just as well as today!