Something else happened on day 28 of my radiation treatment, which only served as a reminder to me that once this is all over and done with – well, it’s not really all over.
I ran to the grocery store wearing my pink “Shore Cure” t-shirt and a bandana. The cashier asked me where I got my shirt and I told her that it was made especially for a team walk in NY. She then told me that she’s going through breast cancer treatment. She was in remission for 8 years, and then bam – it just appeared in her right breast. She just started radiation and told me she was having a difficult time with her new diagnosis. I told her that she needs to believe she’ll get through everything and take it one day at a time.
Our brief conversation just reminded me why I hate it when my doctors say “cure” – you can’t cure fear. After I’m done with everything, I’ll still be monitored closely by my doctors, but I’ll always think about something returning. And the truth is, unless there’s an actual cure developed, it still could happen again. That is why I’m doing everything I can to be proactive about my health and screenings (next up on the list – finding a dermatologist to have a full body check).
For the first three years after my treatments end, I’ll be meeting with a doctor every three months – alternating between my medical oncologist and surgeon. I’ll also get a yearly mammogram. But I’ll have to remember to be diligent about my monthly breast exams. So, I registered myself to receive a monthly email reminder. Since I basically check email every day, I’m hoping that this will work out (you can also register for text messages). Monthly breast self exams are not an end all “cure”, but for young women with no family history, mammograms often are not prescribed yearly. So, I encourage any woman (regardless of age) to commit to taking charge of your own health.