This year, I came to California again. On vacation with the family. Not quite as far south -- San Francisco this time instead of San Diego. I have some few memories of San Francisco from grad school. Not many -- I was broke, and campus is far away without a car, and even farther without money. We didn't stay in the city this time, either. We stayed at a place very near Muir Beach. This near:
We decided to experience the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, known in the biz as a "cancerversary", by having a normal day. Normal is what cancer takes away from you, and what you just want back again and can't quite get your hands on. So we just hated on Valentine's Day the same way we did in years past, spent the day doing random stuff, the same way we did in years past, and just... were. Were alive, were together. It was great! Also I got a great new henna tattoo, from the same person who did my cool henna crown:
Oh - and I also got a super cool henna tattoo on my scar! Take that, scar.
So yeah, this year is already much better than last year! In comparison, everything is really rosy.
I wish I could just live comparatively. Alas, the best I can do is live in the moment. There is something on my ovary. It's probably no big deal, and they wouldn't even know about it if I were not enrolled in a clinical study to try to detect ovarian cancer early because I'm in a high-risk population. It looks like a spot or a scar, or something, and I recall having someone remark on it in an earlier ultrasound. But back then, I was a normal woman with a random scar-looking thing on her ovary. Now, I'm a high-risk woman with a scar-looking thing on her ovary that might be a bit bigger than last time it was measured, or might not be because it's just ultrasound and very subjective as to measurement, so I'm not sure yet what they're going to recommend. But they were all in a tizzy because here I am, first preventative screening, spot on the ovary.
I was thinking, when I heard about this, just yank out those pesky ovaries. I mean, we're already suppressing them, right? What do I need them for, just to sit around and pose a death risk? Right?
Wrong. So here's the thing. After five years, I won't necessarily need the ovarian suppression any more. They might then switch me off that, and onto Tamoxifen. Because five years of ovarian suppression gives me the benefits as to preventing recurrence, and then Tamoxifen would be enough for another five years. [Not that I believe this. In five years, they'll be saying something different, but this is the current word on the street. And all assuming, of course, no actual recurrence. But some of my friends have forbidden me from recurring, so I'll keep that in mind.] And on Tamoxifen, your ovaries aren't suppressed. My ovaries might wake up. My doctor says, since I'll then be only 43, that there is a high chance they'd wake up, and that would give me 8 more years (assuming average onset of menopause) to play with and try to make friends with estrogen again. Because of all the good things estrogen does, especially for my heart and my bones. So they don't want me to just yank 'em.
S.I.G.H. Why can't any decisions be simple? And -- great -- I get to go through menopause twice! Yay! This is me being lucky!
OK so, along the way I learned some things about ovarian cancer. It is so deadly because it is so hard to detect. But it has symptoms. Here is an article from the New York Times and a summary of the symptoms from that article:
The symptoms to watch out for are bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate. A woman who has any of those problems nearly every day for more than two or three weeks is advised to see a gynecologist, especially if the symptoms are new and quite different from her usual state of health.
I also learned that 50% of ovarian cancers start in Fallopian tubes, and you only need one ovary to climb out of menopause (although coming out of ovarian suppression, having two would be a better chance of resuming ovarian function). So... I'm considering getting at least my Fallopian tubes out, and the troublesome ovary. Or the troublesome part of that ovary. I'll be pondering this while I wait for the gynecologic oncologist to get back from vacation and talk with me.
Next week I meet with my surgeon again regarding Lump Vader, and I expect her to say everything is fine and just watch it and make sure it doesn't change or grow. This is not comforting particularly, but I don't know what else they'd do. I don't want another biopsy if there is nothing to biopsy. Extra scars for nothing? No thanks. But if they want to do it, OK. So we'll see.
I stopped taking clonazepam (again) a few days ago. You'll recall that last time I did this, I ended up crying at Costco. This time, the only person crying at Costco was Kid2, so I think we chalk it up as a win so far. One more med down! I had four weekly pill-minder things (wake-up, breakfast, dinner, bedtime). I was able to reduce to three (combine wake-up and breakfast), and I think that if I can stay stable without clonazepam, I can drop down to just breakfast and dinner.
And oh yeah - I am FAMOUS! Super awesomesauce. They love me at my gym almost as much as I love them. Some of you have seen this already on Facebook, but just in case... I'm really proud of myself for this one, people.