That was then, this now…

24 Mar

Now that I’ve gotten the hard part out of the way – the first post, and the details of my story –  it is time to talk about now, ten months after diagnosis.  I’ve already had two scary incidents, made scarier by being a breast cancer patient. The first was nagging hip pain that started about the same time I started radiation. A great example of the confusion cancer wreaks on all medical care. I went to my PCP first, she sent me to an orthopedist, who found nothing serious.  The pain persisted and I finally told my radiation oncologist, he ordered a PET scan immediately.  The PET scan was clear and I found a new orthopedic surgeon who finally diagnosed degenerative disc disease in the lower lumbar and upper sacral vertebrae. One cortisone epidural (and one more round of anesthesia, and one more period of nausea) and 6 weeks of physical therapy – I’m back to whatever normal is for a woman of my age and “experience”.

Then in February – my first post treatment check ups and mammogram. Once again – mammo, needle biopsy, lumpectomy – but on the right side (Shirley).  All of last year’s problems were on the left side (LaVerne). Lobular carcinoma in-situ (LCIS) and atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) were all that was discovered this time – no changes in treatment, just another surgery, another round of nausea and a rebound effect from everything making me very tired again, but only for a few weeks this time.

So Now – I am learning that thing my husband calls our new normal. I am still convinced that I wiil address breast cancer again in my future – I don’t know why, I just believe it to the bottom of my bones. But I can’t worry about that every minute of every day, even though I do think about it at many points in time, every day. Having breast cancer makes me uncomfortable about my future, but I am safe and living, right now.

I am learning that I can remain involved in breast cancer support and advocacy, I can add my energy to the community without expending too much energy staying emotionally involved. At the start of my trip I felt like a social media vulture – stalking everyone I found that was involved in breast cancer online. It was very emotionally draining at the time, now it is more energizing for me.

There are many holes to fill in my story and many new stories to tell, things to explain, little odds and ends of interestingness to share.

Now my life is about coping with returning to work after treatment. I took time off to complete treatment and returned full time in January 2013. I took some more time off during the February BC scare and now I am back – I have no more excuses, or sick leave so I have to face it – I’m working again.  It is definitely a two-edged sword. I love being with most of my co-workers again, laughing, lunching, collaborating; but I still have cognitive problems that were not a problem a year ago. My attention span, ability to do critical analysis, and my writing ability all seem to have taken a hit.  But maybe its like muscles – my brain just needs to be worked out a bit to get back in shape. Let me know how that is working out for me.

My desire to work is also suffering but that has more to do with politics than medical impacts. My work just doesn’t seem to be as important as it used to be. There are many things in my old life that are not as much a priority anymore – workaholism is among the top. And is it my imagination or does my supervisor act as though his feelings are hurt because I got cancer and made his life harder? All I can do is keep it professional and meet my deadlines.

But what is important, what is my top priority is my husband and dog, my home life,  and my children’s happiness. And finding a little bliss every day – then finding a lot on the weekends.

More to follow…

Jane

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