|This is a completely unrelated photo showing how my hair looks right now. (Sorry about the totally fake looking smile.) I was getting some sideburns, so I'm using headbands every day to train the hair to stay back. I think I'll call this my Kramer-look.|
I'm nervous today. As you might predict, every single doctor's appointment these days is met with the fear of what bad news I might receive. Along with the term "cancerversary" on the cancer blogs, you'll also find the term "scanxiety". Everything points to me being fine, but I don't think I'll ever be able to calmly walk into a medical office again.
Tomorrow's doctor's appointment? It's because I did a very normal thing for a 41-year-old woman: I got my period. However, as you may remember, the tamoxifen I take is supposed to prevent the estrogen in my body from doing what it normally does, so I shouldn't be getting a period. And I haven't since starting tamoxifen. But then I did last week. Dr. Google and the many women who post on cancer boards and blogs said that I'm not alone, but I had to be sure.
When I called the oncologist's office, they weren't overly concerned ("It happens sometimes to some women.") but they advised me to call my ob/gyn. Her office has me set up for an endometrial ultrasound tomorrow. Evidently, tamoxifen slightly raises the risk of endometrial cancer. Very slightly: I go from something like 1/1000 odds to 3/1000 odds.* My odds of cancer recurrence without taking tamoxifen is much higher, so it's totally worth the risk. But I think all of my doctors have the same scanxiety that I have. They were surprised that my breast lump was cancer, so they don't want to miss anything at all. That's good, I guess. However, I'm stuck sitting in the very same office (Crouse Imaging Center) where my initial diagnosis was made. Fun times, huh?
Rationally, I know that this is nothing. From this National Cancer Institute link, I have none of the symptoms described. I'm 100% certain what I had was a normal period. (Women friends out there, I'm sure you'll agree that you totally know what your period looks and feels like. This was totally normal. Not at all "bleeding or discharge unrelated to menstruation".) And in case you, too, are freaking out a little, check out the last sentence: "Endometrial cancer is highly curable."
So, by this time tomorrow, I'll have been diagnosed with NOT having endometrial cancer. Then why am I still so nervous?
Update - My ultrasound was totally normal, with the endometrial lining measuring 6mm. (Don't know what that means besides hearing the word "normal" attached to it.) The unfortunate part is that my cycles are probably back, but that's better than the cancer being back. What was I thinking, throwing out my Diva Cup? That'll teach me to listen to the oncologist! Actually, my assumption is that Dr. Kirshner is used to dealing with cancer patients who are older, so he assumed when I'd stopped my period, it would stay that way. My regular gynecologist sees women of all ages on many different medications, so she's less surprised with my body doing whatever it's been doing.
*The math geek in me has to correct this statement. Going from 1/1000 to 3/1000 can actually be described as TRIPLING my chances of endometrial cancer. Fortunately, the increase from 0.1% to 0.3% is the slight increase I was referring to. See how statistics could be used to scare people?