I was diagnosed with a borderline ovarian cancer in November 2004. This morning I had my yearly checkup with my gyn-oncologist and he told me everything looked good and return in one year. Which normally would be great - except I thought that since I was close to my five-year mark, this would have been my last (or next to last) visit.
So I asked him this: How much longer will I have to see you? He said I would have to see a gyn-oncologist for the rest of my life. When I asked him about that five-year rule I've heard so much about, he said that just yesterday he operated on someone who was diagnosed with the same type of cancer more than twenty years ago and she had a recurrence.
He also verified that the likelihood of that happening to me is small, which I also verified with my internet research. So what gives? If I reached that "five-year" mark, then why do I have to continue seeing an oncologist?
Am I wrong to feel disappointed? I got a clean bill of health from him, but it seems like this "cancer" label is trying to follow me for the rest of my life, whether it be long or short, and I don't like it one bit.
First of all, congratulations on being cancer (and precancer) free! That is a wonderful thing to be.
Everyone is different and different gynecological cancers are different. Each doctor is different in his/her approach to oncological care. So many things affect a woman's "outcome."
I think the way you are feeling is perfectly normal. It would be nice, once we are given the cancer-free lable to wish the whole cancer-thing to disappear. The truth is that recurrance can occur. That is the sad, depressing, and maddening truth.
I can't tell you how to feel. I would like to share how *I* feel though.
My cancer was found VERY early and only because 2 doctors did one more test than they normally did. For that reason, I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma Ia1 (cervical). My gyn/onc said that within 1 year I'd by symptomatic, but chalking it up to menopause. I might, or might not, at that point even mention the breakthrough bleeding and/or bleeding post-coital to my doctor. By then, my cancer would be stage 2+ and I'd require a radical hyst with chemo and/or radiation. Instead, I "just" had to have a hyst to remove my cervix and uterus. She told me that in 6 months (assuming that biopsy comes out fine -and she expects it to) that I will then go back to annual exams. I can then decide to go back to a regular gyn or stay with her (the gyn/onc). I plan to stay with my gyn/onc. I figure she deals with cancer every day. If anything looks suspicious, I think she'll notice the red flags faster and will be more proactive than a gyn (who delivers babies and deals with pregnancy on a daily basis).
Cancer is horrid. It would be nice to forget about it. The truth is, it is something we (or at least our doctors) need to be mindful of. *IF* (God forbid) there should be a recurrance, I want fast, sure steps to reduce the negative outcome.
((((hugs)))) I know this is difficult. You are further along than me (I'm only 6 months post op), and I am so glad to know that other than the pesky exams it sounds like everything else is going well.
The best we can do is live our lives. Don't let cancer run it.
I'm glad that you're doing good and that they caught the cancer early! It pays to continue having checkups, even though they can be cumbersome! I had that appointment with my gyn-oncologist yesterday, and my eye doctor that afternoon. Today I had my annual mammogram and tomorrow I will see my family practitioner.
You raised a good point about continuing with a gyn-oncologist - that person would be more likely to spot something suspicious than someone who isn't used to dealing with that. I will stick with this doctor until he retires, which, judging by his age, might not be that far off (late 60's?).
Thank you for responding to my post. God bless you!
God bless you, too! My gyn/onc said I could stay with her or go back to the gyn I saw (only 3x) before seeing her. She said, "she is probably closer to your home/work." I thought, yeah - but YOU know what you're looking for! I figured the extra 5-10 mile drive once a year to see HER, far outweighs the convenience of seeing someone closer.
So do you still have to go for annual exams? I will (after I hit my 1 year mark).