Date: April 27, 2024
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Procedures and Tests

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It is a roller-coaster of emotions, tests, and unknowns that come with a cancer diagnosis. Here is the reality behind the number of appointments, doctor's visits, and procedures.

A person's wrist wearing a beige medical wrist brace, resting on a blue armrest, with a reddish-brown blanket draped over their lap.

The one thing that I don't think many people are prepared for besides being diagnosed with cancer is everything that comes with the diagnosis. The slew of appointments, tests, exams, weekly blood draws, and procedures that descend on you is unbelievable.

For me, I had my initial sonogram, biopsy, and follow-up mammogram, I truly thought this was all that would need to happen before I started treatment. Boy, was I wrong? I also had to have a PET scan. Yet another thing I had never experienced before and another box I had no plans to add to my bucket list. I arrived at my appointment and silly me assumed that I would just lay down, get scanned and it would be done. I had no clue that you would be injected with a radioactive liquid, also known as a tracer. This part alone took about 45 min after the IV was started. The PET scan was not as scary or stressful as I expected it might be. My appointment was early in the morning, maybe that helped, but I was exhausted and fell asleep after just a few minutes.

After the PET scan, it was super nerve-wracking! Every lump and bump I found became cancer in my mind. I tried to calm myself and know that mind over matter is huge, but it was so hard to not worry. I mean, you really never know.

As I have visited with my doctor and other cancer patients, it appears that it is pretty normal to have that reaction, but at the time, I had no clue. I don't think it's something that is really talked about during the process. There is so much you are taking in, this part kind of goes by the wayside, especially if you are as lucky as I was and the only cancer found was the lump we already knew about.

My doctor typically says that if it is bad news, he calls and you don't hear from him if it is good news. My next appointment was just a little over a week away so you bet that even though I was incredibly anxious about what might have been found, in my heart, I did NOT want to get a phone call.

When I arrived at my appointment, my results were one of the first things he told me. The relief of that moment was huge. I also had my sea legs under me enough to ask a couple of other questions which only further put me at ease. As I was getting one step closer to starting treatment, the next step was a big one, having my port placed.

Having my port placed meant surgery, again, something I had never had before. The extent of my surgical procedures up until this point in life was having my wisdom teeth taken out! Needless to say, I was VERY nervous leading up to the procedure. I had also heard the mixed results people had with their ports.

After we checked in to the hospital and got to my room, I was still anxious until my surgeon and anesthesiologist came in to visit with me. Individually they visited with me about what was going to happen, and while it did help me relax a bit, I also reminded myself that this HAS to happen. There is no choice, and no way around it, so take a deep breath and accept it.

Thankfully I do not remember anything from the procedure (another round of horror stories) and I woke up in my room, groggy and still a little sedated, but awake. It took me another hour or so to come around enough to visit with the nurses and to start getting ready to be discharged. All in all, it was about 4.5 hours that we were at the hospital.

After I got home and rested for another couple of days, I was relieved that my port did not cause me pain, or discomfort. Yes, there were times it was uncomfortable since it was still healing, but nothing like I had heard others talk about. In about a week, I felt pretty much back to myself.

Now all that was left to do was hurry up and wait for the call that I could begin chemo and for lack of a better phrase, but to get this show on the road!

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