Surgery set for today…..
“This was kind of fun,” said the medical radiologist as he shook my hand goodbye. “I know it sounds bad to say and I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but it’s been kind of fun.” I entertained him. The man who basically told me that if my cancer comes back, I will die, left happy. Well, that makes one of us. I had just spent three hours hearing what the doctors involved in my case thought and recommended; answering my unending questions about cancer, the prognosis, the protocol, the aftereffects and so on. I guess not every victim er patient is as charming and spirited as I am.
The concensus? Lumpectomy and radiation; bilateral mastectomy (with implants) later if I’m positive for the breast cancer gene. Surgery is tomorrow. I’m impressed by how thorough this process is. From the start it’s like they’ve done this before or something. 😉 One in 7 women will develop breast cancer and, depending on the severity (stage) and the treatment you go through, there’s about a 15% chance of it coming back. If it comes back in some part other than the breast, you die in three years. At least that’s what the oncologist sentenced. Gulp.
The other physicians and nurses say he was just trying to make a point. His job is to get everything the first time around and not mess around with trying to spare your feelings, your skin or your initial physical suffering. For those who couldn’t face losing a breast or doing radiation for cosmetic reasons, take note. The end result of all this is that I take the knife to boob tomorrow afternoon. 1:30pm to be exact. They will cut out the tumor (2cm, Grade 1), send it to the lab for biopsy, test my lymphnodes for spreading and possibly remove any infected ones, then sew me up. I go home that evening and back to normal in a day or two….except that it’s not like a normal surgery.
It’s not the end of a problem but the beginning. In two weeks, I will have 30 days of radiation to make double sure there’re no cancer cells left in the breast AND maybe 4-6 MONTHS of chemo if those little bastards have spread to the nodes. Chemo’s the thing that kills everything- your hair, your nails, your chance for more kids. It also causes nausea and vomiting. Yep, it’s bad. But it also kills the poison that could kill you, the docs say to make you feel better. So how did this happen? I asked a cancer nurse if there was something I did that caused the cancer. She said, “You’re a woman.” Wasn’t bleeding once a month for all of your adult life punishment enough??
I wouldn’t wish this on anybody but at the same time, I would never volunteer to be that one in seven. It really does suck and you have no idea how to deal with all of this information. It’s not supposed to happen to me, I think to myself.
The post followup mammogram revealed a Grade 1 well-differentiated invasive ductile cancer. A lump in the upper left outer quadrant of my chest. At that point I could feel the lump- because I knew where to look; it’s about the size of a hot tamale jelly bean. I am a bit calmer compared to last week. I suppose thinking about it all weekend, Googling and talking to docs prepped me for today. I’m sure I’ll be a waste case once the path report comes back. All I can handle is the lump removal. Everything else is surreal. Mastectomy might be my only option if the genetic test for that breast cancer gene is positive. It also means I’m a candidate for ovarian cancer. This is all happening soooo fast. One day, I’m doing my annual exam, the next I’m possibly losing two breasts and two ovaries. I can’t stop thinking about everything I have going on this month- OR and Ryan’s parents coming to town on the 30th. We’re supposed to go to Jackson. Now’s not convenient for cancer.
Ryan’s family knows and they’re incredibly supportive. It kills me that I’m putting everyone through this storm. The burden is hard enough for me to bear. No one else should have to deal with it.