That's Just The Way It Is
*Written while listening to Tupac at a high volume.*
Basically when you get cancer, or at least from my experience you become even more hyper aware to everything that is going on with your body. For me, a hangnail is cause for question. (I'm not crazy, you're crazy!)
I am almost a month in on Tamoxifen and I am happy to report I have not experienced many side effects. The typical side effects include hot flashes, nausea, and joint pain. (To name a few)
Many women, however do report a wide array of different side effects that are not typical. If you think about it, this drug is basically trying to stop your hormones from pulling a District 12 situation on your body. Potent shit.
Enter last week, when I noticed a new mole on my stomach that was not there even the day before. Normally I might blow that off for the moment and make a note to get it checked out later in the summer -- however "cancer brain" sprung into action. I sat there and studied it for a solid 10 minutes. I went to all the mirrors in the house trying to get a better look at this thing. After another 20 minutes on Google reading everything about the ABCDE's of moles, I just decided I needed to make an appointment with my Dermatologist.
On the walk to the Dermatologist, I felt all of the familiar feelings I had when I was walking to my breast biopsy a few months prior. I was nervous, but also disbelieving that through everything I have been through recently; the universe would have the audacity to task my body with fighting one more thing. There's just no way I could have skin cancer too, right?
Filling out the paperwork at the office was also a treat. Gone are the days when I could breeze through paperwork checking 'no' for every medical condition on the sheet. I have to take my time now, and remember dates, procedures and medications. "Lucky" for me, every single date of significance from my diagnosis to present is etched in my brain with a permanent marker.
Sitting on the exam table waiting on the doctor, my eyes glanced over the poster about Melanoma. The woman was sitting on a dock with her Golden Retriever and there was some quote about how she was lucky she knew when to visit her doctor. Lucky is such a strange word when it comes to cancer.
The Doctor emerges, skin flawless and a little pulled back. (As you do when you are a Dermatologist.) We review the specifics of my cancer, and then she says the phrase that every cancer patient hates to hear: "Well, we should take a few biopsies regardless, as there is a correlation between Skin Cancer and Breast Cancer."
Of course there is. Why wouldn't there be?
The next 20 minutes I sat there while she yammered on that this is strictly her being cautious, and that there is most likely nothing to be concerned over. That speech is shared among doctors, as I have heard it before... right before I was diagnosed the FIRST TIME.
I left the office a few bandaids heavier, and on the walk home realized that this is my new reality. Much like I am never going to check 'no' on medical paperwork again, I am also operating in 24/7 vigilant mode. Nothing is off limits, and everything is a question mark. As much as I can try to mitigate that and manage my anxiety; the mindset is always with me. I can no longer laugh at myself when I think a bad headache is cancer, because I have cancer. So yeah, that can absolutely be a possibility now. Or it can't. I can never go back to that invincible place. That "it won't happen to me" place.
Key takeaways- This shit changes your perspective on everything. So there's that.