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A roaring river...

As cancer survivors, we all have a worry that lingers in the back of our minds waiting for bad news. Most of the time we will be told things are good, keep moving forward. We feel a sigh of relief and move on until the next test or scan or weird symptom.
We all have those moments. Moments of fear and worry, especially when waiting on a test or scan results. As with all things, there are times the results come back indicating something is wrong. I had that moment only a month ago.
Oops... it's been awhile!
I had honestly forgot about going to my GYN. I mean, I go to so many doctors that I avoided the ones that seemed less important on my importance scale. My breasts are getting examined by multiple doctors every few months, along with my hormone levels. And I was technically menopausal (medicinally), so I wasn't worried about pregnancy.

So, I took time away from the GYN until my mother reminded me it had been too long. And like most mothers, she was right. When I scheduled my appointment they had to make me a new patient again, since two years had passed. I realized then, I really had put it off for too long.

My appointment was standard, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. However, my GYN reminded me that I needed a transvaginal ultrasound to check my endometrium lining since my cancer med, Tamoxifen, is known to cause cancer after long term use. And obviously, I had not been monitored in two years... so, my last ultrasound was all they had. So, I scheduled the appointment and came back the next day.

Now, I know I have gone into detail about what a transvaginal ultrasound is, but for those curious transvaginal actually means "through the vagina". It is basically where they insert a long (dildo-like) ultrasound wand into your vagina to get a better look at female reproductive organs. I have had these ultrasounds for different reasons in my life, like for pregnancy and monitoring of my endometrium lining (back when I actually remembered my appointments), so this was nothing new.
The eerie feeling of being the only one there...
I laid on the table and talked to the tech as she took images and looked into the vast screen of black and white blur... or at least that what it looks like when you aren't pregnant. The streaked lines and occasional circular shapes filled the screen. It helps I have completed a degree in this, to see and know roughly what they are looking at. So, I feel like I at least know slightly what they are examining, measuring, or taking pictures of when they do.

After dressing I expected to leave, but instead I was told to go back to see the doctor. Now all cancer patients know this feeling, it is the - wait, no, that's not the normal procedure feeling - the sinking feeling that you know you are having to stay to be told something. You are put in that room... the room that you never really go into. The one that you know is away from the others... stuffed with information sheets.

As I sat there, I mentally prepared myself for whatever not-good news was coming my way. My feet dangled from the high doctor's office seat that I normally try to avoid sitting on and looked out the window. It was that "crap" moment. I was just waiting to see how much "crap" it was going to be.

The GYN, who by the way is an amazing lady, came in and immediately had the head shaking, dang-it, let's just rip the band-aid off, "well, it isn't good news" talk. She talked about how my endometrium lining had grown significantly. That since I had been menopausal for years, it should be less than 4 or 5 mm... and mine was well over 18 mm. There was a lot of other talk, but I only heard the important things. Potential endometrial (uterine) cancer or pre-cancerous issues. The percentages were not really in my favor due to my linings thickness, Tamoxifen use... etcetera.

By the end of the appointment, all I knew was it was very likely I could have another cancer, and I was scheduled an endometrial biopsy/DNC (which I later changed to an endometrial biopsy followed by a hysterectomy/oophorectomy... I'll discuss why in my next post).

I left the appointment feeling everything you can imagine I did. I felt frustrated, angry, confused, bewildered, worried, heartbroken, and afraid to name a few. I also knew before I could go home to my children, I had to go cry it off somewhere else. I headed to my parents were we all cried, were we all talked, were we all hoped everything would turn out alright.

The thing is that even though I had all those horrible scary feelings, I still held on to hope and the knowledge that the worst case scenario of cancer was something I would just have to deal with if I had to deal with it. I could only take it one step at a time, and there was no room to worry until I was told to worry. Plus, I still had to get home, clean up, and cook dinner.

Like most cancer survivors will say, we always live with that hearing-cancer-again-worry forever after we are first diagnosed. For some, it is like a constant blaring red warning sign that rages and roars in front of them, always present. For some, it is a lingering trickle of noise that can occasionally become a roaring river when reminded of. I live with the lingering trickle, who that day had a roaring river.

(Spoiler alert - everything turns out alright - negative - and everything was removed before it could get cancerous... I will be writing how it all went soon...)


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