::Cue the Destiny's Child music::
I walked into the clinic here in Idaho yesterday, ready for another unpleasant check-over and rescheduling for 6 more months.
Let me back up a little bit....
In January of this year, my husband took a job assignment that moved him to Laie, Hawaii. Poor guy, right?! The kids were still in school and our blended family has had a lot of things going on behind the cancer check-up scene. So I've been holding down the fort here in Idaho, while he's been working at his J-O-B in Hawaii. We have a good system and he's been able to come home once a month for a week- so it hasn't been too bad.
I was walking into the clinic with our youngest son, because there wasn't anyone to hang out at home with him and I enjoy being in his company. Now, before you start to stress out about a nine-year old in a cancer clinic, especially for a gyno-exam- know that I had this figured out before we left. I made sure his Ipod was charged, and I knew there was a chair outside the exam door. I would be with him or within earshot the entire time and quite frankly the staff in Idaho Falls is amazing!
While our youngest waited just outside the door, and I had the cloth draped stylishly over my nether region, Dr. Z came in and began the discussion about dilator use. I had been using it, but to be frank with you- the longer length came with a wider base. I do not need a wider tool, just a longer one. Unfortunately, the medical grade dilators don't work that way, and so we discussed commercial grade options. Yeehaw! I like Dr. Z because we can laugh about things as they're happening and don't have to wait until the next visit. Through a series of giggles and eyebrow wiggles we communicated just what a commercial dilator is, and how to purchase one. My sides still hurt from holding back an all out guffaw.
Once the dilator discussion was concluded, I slid my rear to the edge of no return and the exam began. All the while we were talking, I could hear Dr. Z's nurses chatting with G-man about our imminent move to Hawaii, where he liked to live the best, how excited he was and a whole myriad of discussions that kept him focused outside and not on his mother. For that I am thankful.
The scarring has still not parted enough to look at the cervix. This is a bummer, because it's the easiest way to make sure there aren't any new growths occurring. The rectal part always follows the cervical check and so I decided to be pro-active.
"Dr. Z, I understand that last time was a non-productive exam because it hurt so bad. I know it's going to hurt just as much, and I understand the reason for it now. So, I'm going to cover my eyes like this," to which I placed both hands firmly over my eyes, "and I won't make a sound. You do what you have to do so that I know I'm okay and then we can talk about it." Her reply was epic!
"Okay, well, while you're covering your eyes like that, I'm going to cover my eyes like this, so that I won't start to laugh at you covering your eyes and I'll get done quicker. Are you ready?"
I laughed, covered my eyes, and then nodded.
The pain was pretty terrible. Imagine taking a scabbed over sore on your leg and then purposefully rubbing it, then spreading it out wide. The burn cannot be described adequately and the intense pressure is ridiculous. Then it was done.
She said there wasn't anything she could feel that would be a problem. She also reminded me that a pap at this point was well, pointless, as radiated tissue gives abnormal results.
She then said something I was not expecting:
"Kami, this makes 5 years from initial diagnosis. We can go back to yearly exams. You've made it!"
This caught me right between the eyes. I was not prepared for it at all. I always thought that the 5 year clock started at the first clean scan. It begins when the cancer clock starts ticking!!
She handed me a paper with the name of a gyno-onc in Honolulu, should any problems occur, asked me to look into a commercial grade dilator, and stepped out into the hallway.
I quickly cleaned up, dressed and stepped out to find two staff members and Dr. Z chatting with Grant. Life is good!
The reality of what she said didn't hit me until I got home. The survival rate for my cancer and staging is 83% at 5 years. Those are most excellent odds, however, how can you not think about the 17% that didn't make it? I think about them all the time. The moms, the sisters, the daughters, the aunts, the cousins, the friends- the 17%.