They don’t call anymore…

An envelope arrives from UCSF this morning.

Envelopes are always arriving from UC: Please fill out a survey about your recent visit to clinic X. Please pay that co-pay you forgot to pay on your last visit. Here’s a summary of your latest charges. Don’t forget this month’s events at the Cancer Resource Center! I don’t always open the envelopes. They tend to pile up.

This one looks like any other. For some reason, I open it: “Your recent left breast diagnostic mammography examination showed no features of breast cancer…”

Then, the UC lawyers have the clinic add a lot of caveats: Mammograms don’t show all cancers…be sure to come back in six months…call us in the unlikely event you feel a lump…keep in touch with your doctor.

When I was newly diagnosed, the nurses and nurse practitioners used to call me. Then, it seemed there were so many calls that I began to number them on this blog.

Now, we’re back to letters. The last time I got a letter that was this momentous was the certified letter the radiologist’s office sent me in July 2010 that my biopsy showed CANCER and that, if my internist had not yet told me, I should probably hightail it to a breast cancer center.

I think of the letters as brackets: The first divided my life before cancer from my life with cancer; this latest marks a division between cancer treatment and everything that comes after. Onward.

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About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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One Response to They don’t call anymore…

  1. Lee Siegel says:

    I love reading your Blog..I am a twice a breast cancer survivor and sometimes although painful to remember some details it is good to hear I am not alone and that it is so much hope now for woman to not have to go through what some of us did. Thank you for taking the time to write, describe our experiences in such a good and fun way.

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