So, I guess before I go into the discussion of check-ups...I should probably share a little bit of my breast cancer history first.
Last year, I turned 35, had my annual GYN appt. and my GYN says I need a mammogram. "Why?" I ask. She says because I am now 35, if I have a baseline mammogram done, then when I turn 40, I have something to compare to. Seems like a good idea, right?
So, I think somewhere last year in the ballpark of June, I had my first mammogram done, a couple days after, I get called back for more films. Then they scheduled a biopsy, which I didn't have until August because I was too busy vacationing New York and The Cape most of July! Anyways, I had the biopsy done, and a couple days later I get a phone call that I have cancer, that I need to come in and have a consultation about what all this means, etc.
It was a shock, I mean...I was 35, no history of BC in my family, no reason to believe I was at risk. But I tell you that most of those things don't necessarily matter. Because it can happen to you, even if you are not at risk and even if you are at risk, it may never happen to you.
I had a 3mm Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast (somewhere in the middle), Stage 1, Grade II and I'll be honest when I say I don't even remember any much more than that. I needed a lumpectomy first, then we'd talk treatments afterwards.
I had my lumpectomy surgery last August, the cancer had not spread to my Sentinal Node. This was my "get out of chemo free card". My cancer, although aggressive, had not left the breast and traveled to the lymph nodes. I was given clear parameters after surgery and I had choices to either do nothing or at least do Radiation and take Tomoxifen. It took a couple months and a 2nd opinion at MGH to determine the best route was radiation and Tamoxifen.
I did my course of radiation from right after Thanksgiving to mid-January. The holidays are a blur, all I did was moan, groan and sleep. I started Tamoxifen in March of this year and I've been on fire ever since! LOL! I have hot flashes that could warm a small room!
SO ANYWAYS...that was a long winded story. (I used to be able to spit out that story with a time and date stamp and every little detail...these days I (seriously!) suffer from mushy brain and can't remember shit! If you want the super specific details, I encourage you to click on the tag "Breast Cancer" over in the list on the right hand side of my blog and start from the beginning. I've wrote more posts on this subject than any other...apparently I was "Thankful" for about 14 days last year! I'm a crappy tagger, although I don't think I have missed a beat on the BC posts.
Since surgery, I got checked about every 3 months by my surgeon. Since it's been a year now, I get to space those visits out to 6 months.
Since I've finished radiation, I get checked every 6 months by my radiation oncologist.
Since I started Tamoxifen, I see my medical oncologist every 3 months. I see her the most actually.
Since surgery last year in August, I've had 3 MRI's and 2 mammograms spaced out over the course of the last year. All came back clear and free of cancer. I think I get to space the mammograms and MRI's out to a year now!!
I assume, that for other women, it all depends on their history's to determine their check-ups. We're all followed pretty closely for the first year anyways.
(Jules, I hope that answers your question!!!)