Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Second time, unlucky ...

I’m going for my CT scan today which I’m hoping will confirm that the womb cancer was localised. The results should come through in a day or two, together with the outstanding genetic and hormone tests.

I also hope it may allay some of my concerns about any potential recurrence of the breast cancer and the persistent pelvic/bladder pain I have had since well before the hysterectomy.

The cause of the womb cancer itself is still unclear. It might be Tamoxifen, it might be Lynch Syndrome, it might be shitty bad luck … but, like the breast cancer, it does seem that I have developed it younger than the norm. In fact, those that develop it are generally aged well over 50 and obese: neither of which I am.

Second cancer

Understandably then, I’ve been reading a lot about ‘second cancer’ this week. It came as quite a surprise to discover that one in six of all primary cancers diagnosed are in people who have already received a previous primary cancer diagnosis.

What makes some people susceptible in this way remains a mystery. Across an entire lifetime, I guess it would be feasible (if unlucky) to be hit by two separate lightening strikes. However, to have two primary cancer diagnoses at a relatively young age in just nine years, has given me considerable food for thought.

Do I have a genetic predisposition, as yet unidentified? Have lifestyle choices that I have made put me at increased risk? I just don’t know.

The thought that I could have done more to prevent this is a persistent one. Of course, I can’t undo what has passed but I have made proactive changes since New Year to significantly reduce my alcohol and caffeine intake and no longer eat meat.

Bad medicine

I will also – when I know what it needs to be – follow my medication regime properly. I am yet to speak to the oncology team at The Royal Marsden, as any discussion needs to be based on the full histology findings, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was asked to resume the Tamoxifen now that (ironically) the risk of womb cancer has gone.

As I’ve explained before, Tamoxifen is great at minimising oestrogen in breast tissue but does the perverse opposite in the uterus. It also has a confusing effect on bone density: causing loss of density in pre-menopausal women but helping build density in post-menopause. As drugs go, it’s pretty bloody contrary.

Consequently, my consultant wants me to have another bone density scan as soon as possible. In fact, I’d also like a full body MRI/CT scan for total peace of mind. While I’m already having a CT of my chest, abdomen and pelvis, the fact is breast cancer – when it reoccurs – does so commonly in the long bones of the arms and legs as well as the brain.

So, right now, I still have more questions than answers. While, on the face of it, my physical recovery seems to be going well, I am reluctant to commit to a return-to-work date until (i) all the outstanding diagnostic tests and medical recommendations have been made and (ii) I feel my mental and emotional recovery has advanced too.

We’re making progress but there is still some way to go.

K x

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