When you are diagnosed with cancer, your doctors want to know everything about you - every sneeze it seems like - as you go through treatment with them. Then as you get through the surgery and then chemo and then radiation they stop following you. With breast cancer, many women get five years of hormonal treatment on top of everything else. At each stage where you move on through treatment, it seems there is always another doctor there to hold your hand and be on top of potential r-words (which is our biggest fear).
At the end of active treatment - after surgery, chemo, and radiation - many cancer patients emotionally start to fall apart because their doctors who have been there checking on every sneeze for months, tell them 'that's it you will see other doctors from then on'. That sudden lack of daily interactions leaves a cancer patient feeling they are abandoned and out on their own.
I got through that stage because I planned for it. I had heard this and wanted to make sure I wasn't without support. I made sure I had a therapist to help me deal with the transition. But I also had my medical oncologist who I saw regularly as I was on Tamoxifen and then Femara. I always had another appointment where I would check in and we would talk about potential 'r-word' issues.
Yesterday I saw my oncologist and she talked about taking me off Femara in January. She said there is no known added benefit to extending it but some people do if they want. It has been pretty hard on my bones and I have osteoporosis as a result. We talked about potential 'r-words' but she seems pretty confident on that. There is some hope my bones will get better once I am off it.
So I left and then I started thinking. That's it! No more cancer treatment. The last support is being cut.
But the 'r-word' always lurks in the mind of the cancer patient. On the positive side, I give credit to my oncologist for bringing it up and giving me five months to digest that. I am happy to stop taking a pill. But its the evil little thoughts in the middle of the night. I do see my therapist monthly so I am sure this will be a topic of conversation in the coming months.