I go up and down, cycling between fear and confidence. One hour, I'm terrified, thinking that bad mammogram means I have a new cancer. I wonder how I can possibly do this again. I worry about my job, knowing I can't put my workplace through another 3 month absence for a second year in a row. I wonder why chemo doesn't work for me. I become certain the bone pain I'm experiencing isn't tamoxifen side effects, but metastases.
The next hour, I realize that my odds of having a second cancer are still low. I know that once you've had cancer, they check every little mammography shadow. I remind myself that I just finished chemo and am still on herceptin and it would be exceedingly rare for me to have a new cancer now, before treatment has even ended. I calm down.
Soon, my nerves bubble up again, I have another bout of doubt and I let my imagination go wild. Not only do I have a new primary, I think, but this time it's spread. I decide to write my obituary myself, and I think I'd better do my own funeral arrangements so nobody else has to. I wonder whether hospice at a facility would be better than hospice at home for my family's mental sake. I feel sad for my youngest son who will lose his mother at such an early age and hope it doesn't affect him for life. I wonder if I can talk my older son into knocking up his girlfriend quick so I can at least meet my grandbaby.
Of course, I'm a rational person and I quickly go back to reality and realize I won't be planning any funerals, and won't I feel silly about that thought when I hear that the "area of concern" they saw was a lipoma, or a cyst, which is what the odds say it is? I stop worrying.
I wonder how long my dog will be sad without me. A week? Two?
I remember that my doctor said it was probably benign.
I wonder if I should buy an iPhone 4 now, even though it's not upgrade time. Who knows how long I'll have to use it? Should I also go to Disneyland and Hawaii?
I take comfort that I had an MRI a year ago that showed nothing, and a sonogram to drain cysts a few months ago also showed nothing. Cancer doesn't grow that fast, the odds are with me.
This is exactly why they call cancer a roller coaster ride. And, I am not alone on that coaster. Millions of people who have had cancer - breast and otherwise - live with this fear of recurrence, new primaries or mets.
For some, each ache is a possible symptom and they start the ride. For others, like me, I had to have a negative test to start the wheels spinning. But, we are all brothers and sisters in that we all go through these times of fear and doubt.
We all agree that the fear of the unknown is the worst. I will be happy when Tuesday comes, and I can stop the roller coaster.
At least, for now.