Today I saw my family doctor for the first time since my diagnosis. It was this doctor that arranged for the referral to the Juravinski Cancer Centre. She was wonderful in making things happen but I haven’t seen her since.
“It was five months ago yesterday that I had my mastectomy”, I told her.
“Wow, it has been awhile…how are you doing?” she asked.
“It’s been a bit of a shit storm,” I told her, trying to remain upbeat and positive. I gave her the low down on all the issues I’ve had, from the surgery complications, hematoma, lymphodema, the neuropathy in my legs, the epidural steroid injections I receive, the trials and tribulations of the tissue expanders, etc.
She listened intently, then shook her head, exhaled and said ” You are a trooper! Don’t know if I could handle all that.”
“Sure you could. We all just do what we need to do. There’s no sense feeling sorry for ourselves. That doesn’t help. So I try to stay positive, find humour in things and push on knowing that there will be an end to this journey at some point. Don’t get me wrong. I am no super hero. I’ve had some very dark days over the last six or seven months. I’ve cried more since my diagnosis than I have in my whole life. But I haven’t let cancer win. Not physically or emotionally.”
We talked for awhile about the bane of my existence …the tissue expanders, and how long they will remain before I can have the next surgery. We talked about not being able to have an MRI because of the metal ports so we can’t find out what exactly is causing my neuropathy and we talked about the mastectomy surgery itself and the fact that all my cancer was removed with that surgery. She asked a lot of questions including “how do they fill the expanders?” I was surprised that she didn’t know. I told her about the turkey baster sized needles and how much they hurt. She said that it sounded horrendous and I assured her it was. She asked to see my scars and like the pro that I am I was topless in seconds. “Does your surgeon know how uneven you are?” she asked as she looked me over. I explained that he does and that he said once the implants go in he “should” be able to adjust things. She examined the bulge under my arm and the area that houses the hematoma. I told her that the hematoma will be surgically removed when they do the switch out but may need skin grafting. I also let her know that the “bulge” will be lyposuctioned by my surgeon but will not be covered by OHIP. She couldn’t believe that. “That’s ridiculous,” she said. I shrugged, agreed and said “What can you do? It is what it is.”
“You’re doing amazingly well. You look great and I am amazed by your attitude. I am so glad you came to see me. Please do not hesitate to come again anytime. Even just to talk. I’m here for you.”
Those words meant a lot. This doctor had gone to bat for me more than once. When I came in complaining of breast pain, she arranged for a mammogram and ultra sound that same day; referred me to a general surgeon and then got me into the Juravinski Cancer Centre to see a surgical oncologist immediately after my cancer diagnosis. She has always taken the time to listen, advise, refer and support me. You can’t ask for anything better from a doctor.
I have all my prescriptions updated now and have had a flu shot. I should be set for awhile. Oh lord I sure hope I am. I don’t even want to think about having to deal with anything else. But….if I do, I am lucky to have a medical team that is looking out for me. From my doctors at Juravinski to my family doctor, I know that I am in good hands.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.