The final appointment of this "appointments season" was last week - the climax of it all really. It was the mammogram result and check up with my surgeon. I was delighted to be told that all is well; that I'm still living with our friend NED (No Evidence of Disease). Now I am striding forward into Year 3.
It was another very positive appointment. Not just because all appears well, but also because they seemed to be genuinely happy for me that the mammogram and exam were clear, that all in all I'm feeling so much better on Aromasin than I had been on tamoxifen, and that the genetic testing hadn't shown a BRCA gene mutation. There was also the welcome news that because I am only just osteopenic, the bisphosphonate may not only protect my bones from further thinning due to the Aromasin but might even restore normal bone density. So I left feeling very positive indeed, and toddled off to buy myself a Year 2 anniversary present. Cancer does give you plenty of opportunities for present buying!
This year I was pleased to find that I wasn't too stressed about the mammogram in advance, but the wait for the result could have been difficult. It was made easier because there were only 8 days to wait for the result and for 4 of them I was away with some of the amazing and supportive women I met through the Breast Cancer Care online Forum. Although we all log into the Forum much less than we used to when we were in the thick of it all, we still look in from time to time and are always there for each other. Small groups meet up every now and then for anything from a couple of hours to a long weekend.
We still do talk about cancer stuff when we get together; it is a relief to be able to talk to people who understand the true situation and who know that outside tabloidland there is no such thing as "the all clear". But in addition to comparing scars and drug side effects there is now a lot of chat about everyday life, work, leisure, families, holidays, etc. Although we meet comparatively rarely and met for the first time only a year ago, such is the bond between us that we behave as if we have all been friends for years.
I sincerely hope that over the coming years cancer will continue to retreat to being an increasingly smaller and smaller part of our lives, in spite of the various permanent legacies with which it leaves us. However, I suspect that for many of us the bond of friendship will continue to evolve, and this is one permanent legacy for which I am exceedingly grateful.