I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Six Years Down

It is six years, almost to the day, since I went under the knife. I have just had my annual mammogram, ultrasound and review with my wonderful surgeon. I wrote about Suzanne a lot in the first months (here, here and here, especially) : she was a revelation to me, about how a brilliant technician could also be a calm, intelligent leader in the workplace. From my various encounters this morning, it's clear her staff adore her as much as I do.

What's the upshot, then, six years down the track?

  • No sign of recurrence
  • No swelling in arm (lymphoedema)
  • No desire for reconstructive surgery (Suzanne asks each year, but I'm not at all ashamed of my scar and the deep indentation along one side of one breast)
  • Some residual pain (from radiotherapy: it will be lifelong, but I'm now under instruction not to  use the really heavy weights at the gym)
  • Bone density normal
  • Menopause ...
  • No medications (nothing; currently not taking anything of any kind; no vitamins; nothing)
  • Weight under control (obesity is an indicator for breast cancer)
  • Reduced alcohol consumption (alcohol is a BIG indicator for breast cancer)
  • Some residual feeling that powers of concentration aren't what they were, but a gradual realisation that this might be picking up now I am no longer taking tamoxifen
  • Reminder of sense that I am glad I did not have to go through chemotherapy or mastectomy (both of which have very long recovery times and difficult after-effects)
So all in all, I reckon that's about as good as it gets. I am very conscious that compared to many women I have got off relatively lightly, and also received (and been able to pay for) consistently superlative and compassionate health care. 

Last night I was talking with a friend who'd had a much rarer, more difficult blood cancer. We agreed that everytime you go in for these tests you kind of hold your breath for the day before. I guess eventually it gets easier. For me the five year mark last year was really important as it meant the end of the daily tablets and the monthly injections. This one seems to mark the beginning of a new phase, as every year out I am absorbed back into the general population with only an average risk of breast cancer.

So good am I feeling about this, and so much am I enjoying blogging again, I am even going to change my profile text in the next day or so.



Anonymous said...

Great news again Stephanie and reassuring for all your friends. Remember not to start working too hard again! -Paul (sharing the pain of having a year 12 child plunging into exam stress)

Stephanie Trigg said...

Thanks, Paul! Yes, have just phoned a recommended maths tutor...

Nici said...

Wonderful news.

Bavardess said...

This is so life affirming. The 5 year clearance is quite a milestone.

Dr. Virago said...

Wonderful news, Stephanie! Here's to many more cancer-free years!

Ann O'Dyne said...

All the same good wishes from me as well.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Somehow I fell very far behind on my blog reading, and haven't been able to catch up today (because Katherine is in my office with me and it is hard to concentrate on much else besides some reading!)

This is wonderful news and I am so glad to hear it. And as to: "The university is changing. Medieval studies is changing. I go on." -- well I love that!