Guess what? Along with cancer and surgery and treatment, I get a survivorship care plan! So exciting. Not really, but I’ll take whatever they give me.
What is a survivorship care plan, you ask? Apparently it’s a new program my medical oncology office offers, where a nurse practitioner goes over the details of your treatment, future follow up, things to watch out for, and is there to answer any questions you might have. All in all a good thing. I did stop short at the long list of signs of a recurrence of cancer, and basically, if anything happens medically short of a common cold, it could be a sign that the cancer has come back. Joy of joys.
I did surprise myself during the appointment, since I didn’t think I really had any questions that hadn’t already been answered, but I ended up in tears as I shared my concerns about my medical oncologist and the team and whether or not, if the cancer were to come back, I’d feel like they would be there for me and give me good care. It’s a sobering thought. I had planned to see my new medical oncologist once more before deciding whether to continue with her, given her questioning of my entire treatment plan, but now I’m not so sure. The nurse practitioner was able to validate that such questioning was uncalled for since I’d already been through the treatment and had the potentially permanent side effects to prove it. Maybe a switch is in order, since I really don’t want to feel like I can’t trust and rely on the doctor who will have to help me if the cancer comes back.
Speaking of coming back, a close family member, who is nearly 90, was recently diagnosed with fairly aggressive prostate cancer. While the news isn’t great, the prognosis is fairly positive and there is effective treatment available. As I was doing some research, I learned that at that age, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%. This is amazing to me, considering that at 62, my five-year survival chances are definitely lower, and my chances of recurrence considerably higher.
So I guess this is survivorship, warts and all — a return to something like normal, with a side order of scary statistics and constant vigilance.