Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gotta Know

Okay. I'm receiving some surprising e-mail. I'm going to ask the question outright. What kind of follow-up are the rest of you who have been treated for breast cancer receiving?

3 comments:

Caroline said...

I finally had a clean mammogram a few weeks ago - two years out. I am 15 months out of radiation. My surgeon now says he wants to see me annually. My radiation oncologist wants to see me every six months. My medical oncologist wants me to be seen by someone every three months. My primary care insists now (she really makes sure I come in) annually. I only get tests if I complain of specific issues other than annual mammograms and chest xrays.

But remember everyone's cancer is different and every hospital has its own protocol. I would ask your doctor outright what are the plans for follow up for you - I did. But now I have a new oncologist and will have to ask her again when I see her in November.

Anonymous said...

In 9 years of survivorship, I have visited my cancer Dr.s many, many times. The visits decrease in frequency over time. I took Tamoxifen for 5 yrs. and now take Femara. I've had mammograms and occasional blood tests. I recently had a breast MRI when I complained of a mysterious pain. (It was negative and the pain went away.) The protocol of follow-up care seems to be just what you've learned - that tests will be performed (other than mammos) only if and when you have a complaint.
It's a very vague and uncomfortable future. The reports of good check-ups really mean the Dr. couldn't see anything or feel anything obvious. It doesn't necessarily mean you are perfectly cancer-free, unfortunately. Just as we weren't cancer-free for years before our tumors actually made their presence known. We, as survivors, learn this truth quickly. Our family may learn it and people who are close to us may learn it, too. But other, more casual supporters have no clue of this. When they ask how the check-up went and we say "Good", they sigh in relief and mentally put us in their "Cured/No Need To Worry Anymore" file.
I suggest you read up on BC follow-up protocols on legitimate websites, like www.cancer.org, which is the American Cancer Society, or www.komen.org. Arm yourself with questions and don't let anyone shoo you away until you've got your answers.
Hang in there. Pray a lot. Your blog proves you love life and this is of utmost importance. You've made it through the worst part of it. Now, live. Be aware, don't ignore things, keep learning, work to stay healthy. But, above all, LIVE!

Your sister in surviving,
Mary (Muse Swing's sister)

Anonymous said...

I had 2 years of 3 monthly checkups, then about 2 years (can't remember that exactly) of 6 monthly then yearly to ten years. The surgeon who was also my main specialist then said he wouldn't need to see me personally each time after that unless i had any concerns, but I still have to have mammograms and ultrasound and a full physical examination every year. I am now past 17 years but it has never been mentioned that I don't need any more yet, and I am quite happy with a yearly checkup.
Deb, about your questions - only an inexperienced doctor would try to give you the 'brush-off feeling'. It's your body and your life and you have a right to ask until you are satisfied. Ask to see another doctor until you get the answers you are satisfied with. Doctors I find are like people- some are more intuitive that others. And some know more than others! I had a really good GP and specialist and sometime after my initial treatment I expressed my concern about what the future path might be, and one of them (again, amnesia!!) sent me for a full body scan, which thankfully was just so reassuring at the time. It might not be the total answer for disgnosis but it sure was a great one for me. Different countries have differing medical practices too I know.

Good luck! Love Barb