Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Once you have cancer.... you always worry it will come back?

I swore I would not do that to myself. Yes, I had the bad luck to get breast cancer at a relatively early age. Yes, I faced the loss of a breast and am dealing with the aftermath of that loss. I now know what a chemo infusion room is like and how it feels to be a bald woman. I have even discovered the secrets of wig shopping.

These are the facets of having breast cancer that I have faced, and in some cases, even embraced.

The one thing I would never do, I told myself, was worry about recurrence. I would not live in fear and define myself forever as a cancer patient. The majority of us go through our treatments and live long lives. I am statistic-minded and logical. I only had an 11% chance of getting cancer in my first breast. Metastases to other areas happens, of course, but for a Stage II person with no nodes, it isn't likely.

I was never going to attribute age-related hip pain to bone metastases. I wasn't going to see a pimple in an odd place and immediately think cancer. No headache of mine was going to be thought of, even briefly, as brain mets. Lumps in my remaining breast were going to be the cysts I know are there.

I was determined: this cancer and the subsequent treatment was going to comprise an interesting and difficult year and then it would - forever - be over. Lightening doesn't strike twice.

So, a couple weeks ago, when I found a lump in my left (and remaining) breast, true to myself, I assumed it was another cyst. When it grew a little bigger, I didn't change my opinion. It can't be anything but a cyst, logically. Back in October, an MRI showed a cancer-free breast. I am undergoing chemotherapy - nothing serious can grow in the toxic environment that is now my body, and certainly not grow that fast. Anyway, in three months I'll have another MRI, so even if it is cancer, well, it can wait.

I won't worry.

But, a week ago, when I noticed bruise-like shadowing above the lump, I paid attention. Worry crept in. Yesterday, when lifting my arm above my head showed the lump through the skin clearly and deformed the shape of my breast, I sighed and acknowledged the universal truth: once you have cancer, you will never be the same. You will always live in fear of it returning.

Today, I had my herceptin treatment. I told the nurse about the lump, who told the doctor, who saw me immediately. He felt it, told me something was definitely there but to try not to jump to conclusions.

He knew that would be difficult, he said.

An ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow.

It's probably a cyst. Logically, statistically - it's a cyst.

But, emotionally, I'm afraid it isn't.

Can lightening strike twice?



  1. No matter what this new lump is, it is clear from reading your blog that said lump should NOT be messing with YOU. It doesn't matter what it is, you will wipe it OUT. It's so normal, HEALTHY to feel're not denying your emotions = less internalized stress = healthier you. I am wishing you all kinds of luck for good news. Whether it's just a cyst or if it's something else, you ARE a cancer asskicker. And look up a drug called Zometa if you haven't already.

  2. I haven't even checked my "good" breast since the clean MRI in Nov. I think I'll be checking it tonight.

    I hope lightening does not strike twice for you, but I am also confident that you can kick cancer's ass on two battlefronts :) If cancer were smart, it would pack its bags and head off.

  3. It doesn't go away. I had cancer first in 1981. I still get that damn trip around the roller coaster with each thing. It fades with time but then returns...

  4. Thank you all. Yes, whatever kind of ass it is, it will be kicked. Even cystic ass. :)

    I've heard about zometa but I thought it was for bone mets. I'll have to research further.

  5. Wow, Ann, I hope it's just a cyst. If anyone can kick this it's you. Good that you are getting things checked out. Please let us know.
    Thinking of you,

  6. One of many articles:

    There is this trial now:

    I asked my doctor and am waiting for approval for this trial. I heard about Zometa on

  7. Benign Cyst! Benign Cyst! Benign Cyst!!!!! Lumpy Bumpy boobs...

  8. How'd the sonogram turn out - it was today, right?

  9. It happens even with Stage I peeps; my neuroendocrine tumour was only SI, fully resected with surgery, all biomarkers fine. But since I started getting new GI symptoms, I'm tempted to head on back to my doc for another CgA test (specialist but very non-specific blood test for NETs)..she'll probably think I'm paranoid, but what the heck!


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