Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Secondary Cancers and Recurrent Cancers Do Make Us Worry

It was a busy weekend and I have gathered a number of different ideas for blog posts.  I will begin with some comments prompted by an article in the New York Times Well section. The article by Steven Petrow, a testicular cancer survivor,  was titled "New Cancer Threat Lurks Long After Cure". You can visit here for the entire article.

The article began with a discussion of Robin Roberts latest diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome a secondary cancer most likely caused by the breast cancer chemotherapy treatment she was given. I know a number of survivors who have had multiple cancers. And studies have shown that treating cancer with chemotherapy or radiation can lead to other cancers. This is especially true of child or young adult survivors.  But as the article stated with 14 million cancer survivors in the US and since those diagnosed with cancer  are living longer, the threat of a secondary cancer is real.

My concern is not so much for a secondary cancer but like so many ovarian cancer survivors my concern is a recurrence of the same type of cancer. Ovarian cancer is one of those cancers that is, for lack of a better word, is notorious for coming back. I have had one recurrence already in 2008, two and a half years after finishing treatment for stage III B ovarian cancer. My CA-125 was normal and it was a CT scan that picked up the growths on my liver and spleen. Do I worry that it might recur again?  Nope. Honestly? Yes, I do. Do I think about it all the time? No.  I've learned over the years, a number of good techniques to get me through those tough times. My Gyn-Onc and I have put together a good follow-up plan of check-ups and CA-125's and CT's to catch it early.

So do I worry or think about other cancers?  Not too often. Do I have an annual mammogram? Yes, I do . Do I worry about going for a mammogram like I do a CT scan or the CA-125 blood test. No. Not sure why but Breast Cancer does not scare me. If I could handle treatment for ovarian cancer  twice I know I can deal with any treatment breast cancer could require of me. On a good note, I just went for my annual mammogram and it was clear.

Mr Petrow brings up in his article that 58% of cancer survivors suffer from anxiety, stress, depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. I applaud Mr Petrow for bringing that number to light. I was dealing pretty well until the recent loss of a friend's niece and  two wonderful women from my support group within months of each other. Over the years I grew to know these women for more than their cancers but their love of children,  their families , God, and the simple things of life like holding hands. So after 6+ years as a cancer survivor, I needed to find some extra support. And I did. I feel much better and feel I am getting back to normal - another new normal.

So if you are a survivor do not be shy about talking to your physician or nurse about what you need physically and emotionally to make this journey  smoother.

Every Day is a Blessing!

1 comment:

Catherine said...

58% is a high number. At our online site, we try to support women long after the treatment has ended because we know the impacts can be far reaching. This sort of fear towards recurrence has been expressed time and again. I think many learn to cope, but nevertheless, it’s always somewhere in the back of their minds.