Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ignorance was bliss

I can't believe it's been a year since I've written a post on this site.  Well, it's time.

I'm still getting checked out by my doctors every few months at this point, with mammograms every year.  At this point these are all routine now, with a level of non-eventfulness that I appreciate.  Yet one of these routine check-ins has recently led to a little stress.  A handful of weeks ago, my routine blood work showed that my liver enzymes were very elevated suddenly.  I get this blood work done every six months, and six months ago all was normal, but not so now.  There were only two changes in my life during that six months I could recall ... I had started taking a medication from my dermatologist, and I had started taking a handful of supplements under the supervision of a naturopath.

We took out one, then another, for about 5 weeks until they were all gone, and yet my liver numbers continue to climb.  I have figured out where my liver is in my body because I can feel it now.  It's slightly enlarged (which goes hand in hand with elevated enzymes), so I feel very full as the day goes on and my appetite is low by the end of the day.  So, tomorrow I have an ultrasound scheduled and Tuesday I have a CT scan.  There are many, many things that can cause elevated enzymes (possibly including Tamoxifen, my anti-cancer med) so everyone is reminding me not to worry.

The last time I was having tests like these done, four years ago, I was blissfully ignorant about the possibilities.  It's different having these kinds of tests now.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not all gloom and doom right now, just more experienced.  It's part of being a survivor, having experience that will no longer allow you to be blissfully unaware.  

I'm optimistic that getting things checked out regularly will lead to a positive outcome.  I'm optimistic because I've met other breast cancer survivors who went through periods of elevated liver enzymes for no explainable reason.  I'm optimistic because my oncologist didn't freak out or order tests immediately when my enzymes were first elevated.  And yet there will forever now be a part of me holding my breath at moments like this.

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