I completely relate to what you’ve described. I’m grateful for your insights. In fact, due to your mention of the documentary “widow maker’, I sought it out on Amazon and finished viewing it a few minutes ago. Had I this info back in 2017, I would not have consented to the stents — which ultimately proved worthless in keeping the artery open. Their presence may complicate matters for any future surgical intervention.
Most frustrating for me is that, like you, once I hit the 5 year mark and was among the ranks of the statistically cured, I was cut loose by my oncologist and no doc along my life’s journey since that time has alluded to my heart disease risk. In fact I’ve had perfect blood pressure, great cholesterol numbers, don’t drink or smoke, and have always tried to eat healthy with a focus on nutritionally dense foods. Even when I began to experience shortness of breath 4 years ago, the standard heart screening tests (ekg and stress test) were normal, so the first two cardiologists I saw moved me on to other specialists for other tests. When the internist I saw suggested that my symptoms were stress related and recommended I try yoga, I knew I needed to move beyond my town’s medical community. Mind you, through all this testing my breathing grew worse and I was struggling just to function at work. It wasn’t until the cardiac cath procedure (and stenting) that I began to realize just how serious my heart condition was. And a year after that when I continued to get worse, I was able to get a referral to Mayo. One echocardiogram later, I became aware of the existence of RIHD.
A CCS even as recently as 4 years ago could have made a difference. I’ve always disclosed my cancer and radiation therapy when giving my medical history. Not a single physician – until now – has mentioned the potential for heart damage and/or sought to check it out. How is this possible? In my recent digging for research studies and articles, I’ve found a few from as long ago as the 80s.
Kudos to you for learning all this less than 20 years after your cancer. I agree with you that patients need to know. And the medical community needs to be better educated about the need to monitor their patients who fall into this category. At this point, it may be too late for me to expect much from my heart – even with the valve replacement, there’s still the CAD. Time will tell. Meanwhile I busy myself with prepping the house for my surgery recovery period, disposing of extraneous possessions, estate planning, and spending time with my adult children and my grandkids.
BTW, the film was a real eye opener. I note that the doc so vehemently opposed to CCS is still at Cleveland clinic and still steering folks away from it as a diagnostic tool. Shocking!