Posted by: Sarah | July 24, 2006

Mid-Summer Report

I’ve been needing to update for a long time, I know, but I’d been waiting on test results to come in first.

For a while now, I’ve been having very lower back pain (almost tailbone), but hadn’t thought much of it as I’d actually been having those pains since the pregnancy with the boys. Several doctors and I had discussed it and we theorized that the 14 pounds of babies I carried by the end of the pregnancy probably did a little number on my tailbone, so that’s what we assumed was going on.

So I mentioned this at my most recent check-up at the oncologist’s, assuming he’d be “oh sure, remember, you had those huge babies parked on your pelvis all those months,” and dismiss it. But he ordered lots of tests to be run, to check it out. I’m glad he did, because this pain has been far worse than ever it was during pregnancy. Sometimes when I stand up, I walk around hunched over (like [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus]Australopithecus[/url] with less hair). Anyhow, I had these tests–a bone density scan, an MRI of my spine and pelvis, and a PET scan–done over the past week and a half. I also had an ultrasound to check on my Lone Ovary.

Today I got the results, and, first and foremost: no cancer. So that is the wonderful happy news there. However, my bone density scan came back saying that I have lost 27% of my bone density in the past year. That’s a significant amount. I don’t think it quite qualifies me for membership in the Osteoporosis Club, but it does mean I have to start heavy-duty calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods, etc. etc. And that probably explains why my backpain has ramped up so much in the past year. I am waiting now to hear back from the oncologist’s office about which orthopedist in town I will start seeing, to see what else can be done.

As for the ovary, I’d been having what I thought were ominous rumblings for a while, so that’s partially why the ultrasound (also because it hadn’t been checked in on since the right ovary was removed in May 2005). The ultrasound tech isn’t supposed to tell you much during the test, but she did say that she saw the left ovary (truly menopausal ovaries aren’t usually visible on ultrasound) and that she saw what might be a follicle (pre-egg). The radiologist’s report merely called it a simple cyst, but I understand from the oncologist’s nurse that oftentimes on a radiology report, cysts and follicles are often called the same thing, particularly when doing a cancer check.

What does that mean? It means that I might be finally–after a year–coming out of chemo-induced menopause. I did more bloodwork today to check on hormone levels, but it is possible that my cycles may be returning.

It also means, though, that I’ve got a tough decision to make, no matter what the hormone levels bloodwork tells us. The oncologist stated, quite plainly, that he is strongly encouraging me to get the remaining ovary out asap, because (as he says) if I’m not going to come out of chemopause, then why keep it, and if I do come out of chemopause and don’t have another baby, then why keep it. As he said, it is his professional, rational opinion that I need to be ovary-less as soon as possible.

I’ll be 35 in the fall. On the one hand, a third child would be lovely in many ways, but on the other hand, I am just not sure if I am prepared to take the chance of keeping my left ovary (“the timebomb,” as my oncologist called it) for the sake of a distant promise of a possible third child. Heavy decisions to make, eh?

In other news, since my last update, we’ve been travelling a lot! I took the boys and we drove to New York (1,200 miles, one way) for a week to visit with family. We went to the beach, swam a lot, visited Auntie Meg in Brooklyn, and had a very lovely time. The drive back home to Mississippi wasn’t bad, thanks to the DVD player in the car. We’re also planning a trip to the beach in Florida later this summer — Tom has a business trip there and we are tagging along with him. After Labor Day, the boys will start going to a Mother’s Morning Out program at a local church…twice a week, they will spend the morning there. It’ll be good practice for preschool (which won’t start until Fall 2007), and, best of all, I’ll have six hours a week all to myself!

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