What’s next?

It was my 3-monthly check-up with the specialists at the Mater Hospital yesterday and this time I had my first CT scan since January. My blood results were fine, but the scans revealed 2 out of the 3 old tumours have been slowly growing, unfortunately. No new ones – phew! The biggest of them is in my groin (lymph node). It’s about 26mm, so quite small, and not causing me any problems. Actually I could feel this lump in the last month or so and have been wondering what the doctor would say.

She said this scenario (tumours growing slowly) fits with the pattern for possibly a hormone-responsive cancer. There’s no conclusive test for it, but there’s an opportunity to try controlling the growth with a hormone blocker, tamoxifen. It’s a take-home pill and I’ve decided to try it for 6 weeks. If the lump shrinks or stays the same, good, but if it grows, then it means this treatment didn’t work and we should do something else – more chemo or maybe radiation.

What’s the difference this time compared with last time when little lumps in the groin catapulted me into chemotherapy? Last time we didn’t know if it was a fast-growing cancer and didn’t want to take any risks of letting it get away. This time we know for sure it is very slow-growing (“indolent” is my doctor’s word for it) after monitoring it all year.

I asked lots of questions and feel reassured this is a good strategy for now. I also feel cheered by reports of continuing research into new treatments which may come available one day.

I’m disappointed that my carefree time has ended, but I have really enjoyed the gap between treatments and made the most of being fit and well! John and I have just returned from an exciting 2-month trip to Europe. I am really happy to have had this opportunity! We explored parts of France, Switzerland, Macedonia, Slovenia, England and Wales, also with a brief visit to Venice. We loved visiting family and friends and we met people through international exchange networks too. It was fascinating to experience a hot European summer and enjoy country walks as well as city sights.

As for my resuming treatment now, I’m still getting used to the idea, but pills seem a very easy option, portable and hopefully with minimal side effects.

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