'There is a light in this world, a healing spirit
more powerful than any darkness we may encounter.
We sometimes lose sight of this force
when there is suffering, and too much pain.
Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge
through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call
and answer in extraordinary ways.'
No! I am not in love with the man personally. I simply love who he is and how he goes about doing what he does. I am talking about my new Oncologist. What a joy he has turned out to be!
It was June 2007 that I realised I had a recurring problem. Just 6 months after Jeremy's accident I discovered a lump in the region of my previous mastectomy. It was not until April 2009, and suffering considerable pain, that my problem was diagnosed. I was advised that radiation was my only option; recurrence in the brachial plexus a rare and painful condition. Thirty hits of radiation later I was given the 'all clear.' Unfortunately, within one month it was obvious that the 'problem' was far from 'fixed.' I was then referred to Dr Janine Lombard who was to become my Medical Oncologist. I saw her twice before she went on maternity leave. For the whole of 2010 I was subjected to different doctors with varying opinions. As the result of a PET Scan in June I was told that my results were 'exceptional.' I was elated! It appeared that the results from Femara had exceeded all expectations. I became a little concerned in September when, yet a different oncologist disregarded my concerns for the lump which was growing on my clavicle, then.
I then spoke to my own medical practitioner who recommended a CT Scan in a letter to my Radiation Oncologist. My appointment was in December which did not seem to be the 'right' time to push for further testing, even though the size of the lump was increasing with several new hard lumps in the region of the chest wall. I decided that as my radiation oncologist was not concerned I would 'let go' of my own worries.
My appointment today was to see Dr Andre Van Der Westhuizen. I knew nothing other than his name and the fact that he had arrived from South Africa to take over my care from Dr Lombard. My initial reaction was favourable and within a short time I knew I had struck 'gold.' Dr Van Der Westhuizen informed me that I would be on Warfarin and Femara (or some form of chemotherapy) for life. When I said I thought it would be for a period of five years he quickly pointed out that was for patients not living with metastatic breast cancer. In answer to my concerns regarding the lethargy/fatigue he said that, unfortunately, will also be a lifelong problem.
Dr Van quickly noted the oedema/lymphoedema in my right arm, along with loss of function. He also appeared surprised to learn that I still manage to find a way to undertake yoga and Tai Chi classes. I pointed out that both are an effective means of moving the lymphatic fluid. On reading the clinical notes he was amazed to learn that no further testing had been recommended during my September consultation, given that the lumps were increasing in size. How could there be such dramatic changes in a three month period?
I was given a request for Ct Scan and Bone Scan. Somewhere there is also to be a scan of my liver. Doctor Van did make it clear that the lesions? on my clavicle and surrounding area are most unusual, especially as the area is often extremely painful. As a starting point, he feels a clear picture, indicating my current condition, is essential.
As we said our goodbyes he placed his arm around me and said gently 'I really hope these tests give us a 'good' result!' For my part, I will make every effort not to worry unless I am given just cause.
What a delightful man!