My last chemo dose was on December 27, 2012. I started my 5yr stint with Tamoxifen mid-January 2013, a daily pill. The only side effect for me was a push into menopause with hot flashes (and they weren't too bad). Since my cancer fed on estrogen, I couldn't take anything with estrogen in it to try to reduce the hot flashes...I'm grateful they weren't bad since I couldn't do anything about it. :)
The first 2 years after surgery and chemo (the most critical time for cancer to possibly return), doctors appointments were every 3 months. MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies...whatever was needed to regularly make sure there had been no re-occurrence. After that, it bumped up to every 6 months. I was happy to do so, still am...if I get cancer again, I want to catch it early.
I was told that breast cancer can return in a few ways - more breast cancer (the other breast or the same breast if you have a lumpectomy), in the bones, in the brain. So if started to have headaches that wouldn't go away or achy bones, for ex, I would need to speak up. Of course, that made me a little paranoid initially...how the heck do achy bones feel? I was sure I had it in my right hip bone about a year later (late 2013). Naturally, I made an appointment with my oncologist right away. He said it wasn't my hip but my S1 joint (who knew!?!) and it was probably arthritis. But he was very thorough and did a bone scan. Of course, there was no issue and I was glad I went.
A few final stories:
* Three months after surgery, my plastic surgeon (who did the reconstruction) said I could have nipple construction and tattooing. He said that they would try to match the nipple color to the other breast. I think I shocked him when I asked if we could go with blue or pink or some fun color. He got a laugh out of it and said no one had asked him that question. But the answer was no.
* In November, during chemo, we went to visit our 3 oldest grandkids. Cami was the youngest at 3 yrs old. I told her I could pick her up because of my oww-ies were better. She said, 'So your boobie is better?' PRICELESS.
* After my buzz cut, the fuzz eventually fell out and I was completely bald. I usually wore a scarf (I didn't want to worry my grandkids). One night Cami came over for a sleepover. We had so much fun with her, playing Ring Around the Rosey, having a picnic in the living room, and going for a walk. Later in the evening, she asked me to take off my scarf so she could check out my head. She liked touching it, saying my head was very smooth. The next day, after the zoo, I told her I'd take a nap with her. She wanted my scarf off again and just rested her hand on my head as we lay facing each other. That was so very sweet! She's a precious girl!!
I have always believed that there are silver linings in everything. My silver linings were that I didn't have to shave for over 1 year (woo hoo!!), my hair grew back curly and has remained so for almost 8 years now, I got a tummy tuck out of it (with the reconstruction surgery), and my friends and family showed me over and over how very special they are. I am incredibly blessed!
So this is the last blog on my cancer journey...on to other things. :)
Moral - Look for the silver lining in every challenge! God is good and they are everywhere!