A few weeks ago, I noticed a blemish on the BoD. Given that’s how this whole cancer malarkey began almost exactly two years ago – and being a Sensible Old Hector – I went straight to see my GP, who referred me to the one stop clinic. So Tuesday saw me back at St. Luke’s, where I saw another surgical consultant (not one I’d seen before) who basically reassured me that all was well and – according to some online calculator thingy – my life expectancy has only reduced minimally and I should live to be at least 80. Presumably this doesn’t factor in being hit by a bus, or tripped on the stairs by a lunatic cat – the latter of which will doubtless have me six feet under within a few months if I’m not very careful.
It was interesting to get another opinion on the various things that have been causing me concern, but a wee bit frustrating that his advice seems to contradict what others have told me. According to him, the blemish is most likely caused by radiotherapy, as is the discomfort around the armpit and the pain and ‘pulling’ sensation in the BoD. There is nothing I can do about the pain other than take analgesic if it gets too bad. Apparently radiotherapy ‘freezes’ the tissue, which stops the localised cancer returning but also means that there’s not much you can do about the resulting issues with pain etc. A lot of the discomfort is also due to the change in sensation after nerve damage and it’s not likely to change – although the nerves can recover in time. All I can do is keep massaging with bio oil or moisturiser.
I’m not at high risk of lymphodema due to not being massively overweight/old, and I have good movement in my arm despite the lumpy feeling in the armpit (he says there’s no actual lump there, whereas the previous surgeon said there is. Ho hum). There are no exercises that will improve the armpit issues, but I should make sure I raise my arm above my head at least once a day and keep it moving as I do now.
He didn’t think I needed a mammogram there and then as I have my annual one coming up soon. He says I am now most likely to be post-menopausal now and I can have a blood test after I’ve been taking Tamoxifen for two years to check. This contradicts what I’ve been told before, so I will have to check that one again next time. Apparently if I am post-menopausal they can then change my medication from Tamoxifen to something else, but again this contradicted what I’ve been told before so I’m not counting on it. Plus I’m not sure the ‘something else’ would be any less annoying side-effects-wise than the Tamoxifen currently is.
So, basically, everything negative is down to radiotherapy and it’s all pretty permanent. The cynic in me think this is a bit of surgical bias, and obviously I’m going to question all this again when I go for my regular check-up in a few months time. But for now I’m just happy that the blemish was just a blemish and nothing more.