The thing about living with Stage IV breast cancer is that every change in how my body functions can feel suspicious. After all, feeling a stitch in my side led to a diagnosis of metastasis. So when, I experienced bloating and (relatively mild) abdominal pain this week I began to feel a bit concerned.
Actually that is a gross understatement. In fact, before yesterday's appointment with my oncologist, I was completely beside myself with pure terror.
You see, I've been feeling good. Really good. And what happened the last couple of times I felt this good? I found a lump in my breast. I found out that the cancer had spread to my liver. I became certain that I was going to be told that my prognosis had just dramatically worse.
But my oncologist was, in his way, very reassuring. He told me that he was pretty certain that what I have been experiencing is 'nothing' (and he confirmed this when he examined me). He doesn't think that my liver is any more swollen than it was a couple of weeks ago. He did, however order another ultrasound, just in case.
As for my fear of spreading, well, he said that I shouldn't worry because it is a certainty that the cancer has spread to other parts of my body. As he put it, cancer cells are not selective about where they go, so I shouldn't worry about it spreading to my other organs and my bones because, well, it's already there.
He said, I should think of my cancer as a chronic illness that we will work at managing with various therapies and that when one stops working, we will try something else. He also said he was much less worried about me than he was in November, "it's a cause for concern when a patient turns yellow."
As I write this, I am pink from the cold and feeling more relaxed than I have in days. Once again, I am reminded of how much fighting this illness is about staying strong emotionally, as well as physically.
Does any of this make sense?