This week is tune-up and preventative maintenance week. Yesterday I had a follow-up with my surgeon and a bone density scan. Tomorrow I have a follow-up with my oncologist, a zometa infusion and an MRI.
I currently think of myself as a healthy person so it is kind of strange to be spending so much time at doctors offices and hospitals but it also helps me to maintain the idea that I am a healthy person.
The bone density scan is something I will have once a year (this is my second one). Because I was forced into menopause through chemo and because I am taking Tamoxifen, there is some concern about bone loss so I will have this test each year to make sure that my bones are holding up.
I have an appointment with my oncologist every 3 months. For the most part, these are now just appointments to make sure I'm not having any adverse side effects of the drugs, she will also do a breast exam and check my lymph nodes. I have blood work done each time that tests various things such as my iron, my vitamin D level, my estrogen level and my tumor markers.
I will have my 3rd infusion of Zometa. Zometa is a bisphosphonate which is essentially a bone density drug. For me, with my diagnosis, this drug is a preventative. Zometa has been shown to reduce the risk of a recurrence to the bones by roughly 30 percent. I will have it every 6 months for 3 years. It takes about 45 minutes for an infusion and so far I have had minimal side effects. I generally have a day of feeling just a bit off, maybe a bit flu-like and tired. It isn't debilitating though, and worth it in the end.
The MRI is just one more tool in my toolkit to look for lumps or differences in my breast tissue. I have a mammogram every 6 months and alternate those with the MRI so I am having some type of imaging test done about every quarter.
It is hard sometimes to force myself to spend the day at doctor's offices. It is especially hard to have the Zometa infusion as that is in the same place that I had chemo. It reminds me of how difficult it is. Cancer is hard. There is just no denying that it is a terrible, difficult disease. However, I am grateful for good health care and thankful that so many people are on my team, helping me to make sure that I remain healthy. So, I will go in on Friday and I will be grateful that I am going there to remain healthy and not because I am sick.