My cancer story

The First Follow Up

My cancer survivor story continues….

My friends and I were going to the movies, one of them was also a breast cancer survivor. She said I’ve had the treatment twice, because I went too late for the follow up tests and it was found out after seven or eight months, that it had grown. ‘Never delay your follow-up check-ups, Shireen.’ She told me. That hit me. When all is well, you tend to get lazy. This isn’t the time for that. Well, I had no plans for delaying, but her remarks confirmed it.

In short, the follow up check ups are to find out where do I stand now?

Right time for Follow-up check-ups:

After three wonderful treatment-free months, now its time for the follow up check-up. Since my last dual targeted therapy (of Herceptin and Perjeta) was on August 24th, 2022, I was due end-November for the check-up.

No matter how careful you have been, it is natural to get scared.

Lifestyle changes:

All doctors and experts agree that after the treatment is over, it is imperative for the patient to change his/her lifestyle. Otherwise, it can come back again. One has to be vigilant.

I’m trying to be a good patient, and have made some changes in my life-style. Starting with the vegetable patch in the back of my home, where the veggies have already been planted, and growing. So, we shall soon be having home-grown veggies and salads.

Other life-style changes:

  • I’ve not taken any sugar. Alternately, I take honey, shakkar, monkfruit or stevia.
  • The sweet cravings are satiated by taking dates, apples, and other fruits.
  • Gluten free diet: I’ve changed my ‘roti’ intake to bajra (barlay) roties, or corn flour ones. My consumption of , bread slices has been reduced also.
  • The tea I take is black tea or green tea.
  • Trying to get more sleep.
  • Doing the exercises that are done after my surgery. These are arm exercises along with yoga.

Hospital visit again:

As I went towards the familiar corridors, I couldn’t help remembering how the same corridors seemed so long, confusing and endless in the beginning. Now, they felt familiar. I met my wheelchair man, and told him, I’ll walk.

My appointment with Dr. Farrukh had happened, within minutes, and there I was meeting him. But first his assistant female doctors examined me to check for any unusual stuff. She was especially happy to see that radiation hadn’t had any negative affects on me, and I was as normal as can be. I was able to talk to her about any ‘abnormalities, after all I’ve been through, one does get paranoid. So, any stiffening of muscles is normal now, I was told. it is caused by radiation. (No, its not a lump.) There are no discoloration either. She was pleasantly surprised.

Anyhow, the Dr. Farrukh wanted me to get my liver checked, and I insisted on ultrasound of my uterus. I know of two persons who got the cancer spread to their uterus. (True both cases were over 10 to 15 years ago. When this Herceptin and Perjeta treatment had not existed.) I was told that there is no threat of that now, but I wanted to be sure. So, he agreed.  I needed his consent for it and got it.

He also mentioned that I’m not fit for any surgery for two years. (I’ve been needing a knee replacement operation if I want.) My body needs that much time to recuperate from all that I’ve been through.

Post cancer treatment symptoms:

My whole body aches most of the time, I get muscular spasms at odd times in different places. Sometimes in my legs, or toes, or parts of chest. Its not pleasant. Then there is the neuropathy and tinnitus. I take some medications for these.

Overall, I’m good.

Alhamdolillah.

The Check-ups:

So, the ultrasound was fine, the technicians told me it all looks fine, but last word is the radiologists. I felt great when the radiologist told me that she is my follower and loves my blog posts. That felt nice!  

This technician remembered me. She was admiring the color of my hair, and I confessed, its a wig. 🙂 She was thorough and took her time, during it to make sure there are no traces.

Fast forward now, I won’t go over the mammogram. Strictly uncomfortable and not to be repeated. But it had to be done, as it was exactly one year from my last one, taken on day of my surgery, the lumpectomy. Least said about that one, the better.

So, then the suspense of the results.

The Results:

Alhamdulillah, all is clear and fine. 😊

More findings:

The liver was fine, but the gall bladder has two stones in it. Since there are no problems of any type, we shall let sleeping stones lie! 😉

But. To make myself feel good, I visited my family doctor, Dr. Mehmood Ahmad who is a gastroenterologist. He also said, everything is fine, and I should keep an eye on it. Nothing is needed now. So, another ultrasound in June, after six months. Good enough.

He also told me that taking a neuro bion tablet daily for my aches and pains is okay. Its a muscle relaxant and vitamin 12. He also addressed any apprehensions I had. Now, I’m good to go!

So, today I’m happy and free.

All set to speak at the Presidency, where I’ve been invited by the President Arif Alvi and his lovely wife Samina. I’ll be taking along three of my friends Ambereen, Amna and Neelofar. Amna Butt too shall be speaking at the forum too. It is an event for cancer awareness. Lets hope it goes well.

I had to share this post with you all, to let you know that it is vital to do all the follow up formalities as conscientiously as the treatment itself. It is very natural to be sick and tired of it all. Now, we just have to put our chins up, shoulders back and get done with these. Otherwise, it can all go in vain.

Best wishes, to you all. May this stupid illness end up in pages of story books of the past, (as my friend Nilofar often says.)

Stay blessed, my Reader. 😊

My other wig, which I wear occasionally. Alhamdulillah, I’m feeling blessed.

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