Last March a week or so after my mastectomy, I had an appointment with my oncologist. While I’d already heard from the surgeon’s office that I’d had a complete pathological response, this appointment had been set up to completely discuss my pathology and any next steps. Because of the good pathology news, the “next steps” part was very short. Come back every six months for a quick physical exam and a chat with her. And that is all.
I love my oncologist, and I respect her on top of that. But I questioned this advice. Nothing? No scans, no blood tests, nothing? Knowing my research background, she reassured me what I suppose I already knew deep down. I don’t have any breast tissue left to mammogram. There are no biomarkers associated with breast cancer that can be measured from a blood test. And even PET/CT scans aren’t indicated in an asymptomatic patient. She told me that the Journal of Clinical Oncology had recently published a study on this very topic. So we discussed that I’d be back in six months, and the situations under which I should call her earlier, and I hugged her and left. I was a little surprised to see an email from her in my inbox later that afternoon, with this article. She’d found the article published that very month, and sent it to me to reassure me just a little bit more. And when I admitted to being a bit of a nerd, but told her I appreciated her taking the time to send it to me, she replied simply. “nerds are cool :)”