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Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
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When Does the Fear End After Breast Cancer?

Does the fear of recurrence ever truly end for a breast cancer survivor and how do we negate its power over us?
PUBLISHED: SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast cancer CURE discussion group.
It all started with a scheduled visit to the breast surgeon. I've progressed from the regular three-month visits to the periodic six-month visits now. (All of my doctors are in this same rotation pattern. Thank goodness for my trusty iPhone. Without my iCalendar, I'd never be able to keep up with every appointment. It helps me remember who I'm supposed to see and when I'm supposed to see them).

Since this was a routine visit, I wasn't overly concerned. I figured I'd breeze in and breeze out. I love going to see my breast surgeon. She's a very kind and caring physician. She never makes me feel hurried. When she comes into the exam room, she sits down on her stool and begins talking to me like I'm her best friend. She shares news about her family and asks about mine. We have a good rapport. After a few pleasantries, we get down to business. She starts palpating my chest and comments on my scar. She says, "I did good work on you! Just look at that beautiful pink scar! It's almost perfect and I even worked hard to save your tattoo." I smile a big smile and she does, too. I like her. A lot. She continues talking and feeling my chest. Her fingers are steady and sure. She knows exactly what she's looking for and I can tell by the way she moves her hands. She never stops talking but as she talks, she pauses for a minute over one area. I blurt out a strong "Ouch!" and she asks if that really bothered me.

I explain to her that the area she just touched is very sensitive. She tells me it felt spongy and she wanted to check it out a little further. She tells me to sit up and I tie the ends of the white linen robe so my bare chest isn't exposed to the scribe she calls in to take notes. "I'd like to order an ultrasound for you so we can't see what this is," she says. In the same breath, she tells me not to worry. Right. I've already started. When we're through talking, I ask if she'd mind taking a photo with me. I tell her I'm documenting every step of my journey for my daughters. She doesn't mind and the scribe does the honors. I watch as she walks out the door, on to her next patient, and thank God for my sweet doctor.

On the way home from the appointment, I text my husband telling him the doctor has ordered a test. He responds immediately and voices his concerns. Although I can't hear the inflection in his words, I can read he's worried. I reassure him and try to sound upbeat. As I drive home, I feel numb. I wasn't expecting this.

When my husband arrives home from work, he instantly comes to me and gives me a big bear hug. As he smothers me, he begins to cry. I pull away from him so I can see his face. I ask why he's crying and he tells me he doesn't want to lose me. I wasn't expecting his reaction but I understood it. It felt like we were beginning of the beginning again. We'd already been here and done that with the first round of cancer. Neither of us wanted to be there again.

When the doctor's office called to confirm the appointment, the scheduler said they wanted to get me in quickly. I was surprised when she asked if I'd be OK to have the ultrasound performed the following day. I was glad it was going to be done so soon and that way I wouldn't have to spend days worrying. I didn't sleep well that night. I tossed and turned wondering what I'd do if the test revealed the cancer had returned.



Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast cancer CURE discussion group.
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