It has been around three months since my last chemo infusion. Today was one of my first follow-up appointments. For the next two years, I will be checked vaginally every three months. I will alternate between a radiation oncologist and my gynecological oncologist.
No woman likes to have her legs pulled into stir-ups and lay with her bare crotch (with a thin, rough cotton blanket draped over her lap) exposed to the world. Of course, there is the drama of the speculum as well. For many years, they were metal. If your doctor was kind enough, they might lay it on a heating pad to warm up before insertion. Otherwise, it was a freaky cold surprise. I have had issues with physician assistants who selected the wrong sized implement. One even told me I had a rather large vagina instead of admit her incompetence.
Fortunately, my doctors at the cancer center are quick and adept. They tend to use plastic speculums that warm up in their hands and apply enough lube to make it as painless as possible. I noticed that they always have a nurse in with them, even though they are women. As for my vagina, I am sure it was never really large given how little I have had sex. Whatever it was, it is definitely smaller now.
Today, I was looked after by a physician’s assistant in the radiation department. Tricia is a bubbly, young Asian woman. She was wearing a bright yellow dress under her white examination coat. She went through a host of possible side effects from treatment. Did I experience any of them? No. She remarked that my vagina has healed well and doesn’t show any signs of scarring from the radiation. She asked about my energy levels and was surprised at how active I have been since treatment. I was even called a “model patient.”
Leaving the cancer center with a clean bill of health is great. I sort of feel like it is the end of this cancer story and the beginning of a new one. I celebrated by having lunch at one of my favorite spots. I followed it up with a slice of homemade strawberry cake. I also decided to indulge in an early birthday gift for myself.
As you can tell, I love to write. I have tons of journals. My last one has been full for several months. So, I went to the local Barnes and Noble and picked up a leather-covered journal with a tree on the cover amidst a sunset. Sometimes just the smell of the leather of a journal can get me.
All in all, a great day.