Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Becky's Big Decision: Make Mine a Double!

It's been 3 weeks since my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. Since then, I have seen a plastic surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. My scar is healing nicely and my third boob is shrinking (see previous blog), thank God. 

The goal of the surgery was to get what they call in the Breast Cancer world, a "clear margin". My doctor removed the 2 tumors he was going in for and then found 2 others in between that had not been detected on the other tests. He got his clear margin by removing a good chunk of tissue (6 cm on an A cup girl) in the surrounding area, meaning, it was cancer free.  Sounds fantastic, right? Well, there's more, meaning, there's MORE. Just outside of the margin is another issue called DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), which is more cancer waiting to happen inside the milk ducts and it's spread around in 2 other locations. Also, out of the 3 lymph nodes removed, 2 were negative and one tested positive for micrometastasis. 

So, here are my options.  Go in for more surgery to remove the DCIS and then do radiation. Or, do a mastectomy with no radiation. Chemo is also on the table and a very high likelihood due to the aggressiveness of the tumors and the lymph node issue. 

Based on the amount of tissue already removed, I have had what is really called a Partial Mastectomy and not what a lumpectomy is (no more than 10% of breast removed). Now, to remove MORE tissue and then to radiate it, will leave this already sad breast in a deep state of depression. 

My breast surgeon doesn't know it yet, but I decided he's going to be doing a bi-lateral mastectomy on yours truly. This decision did not come easily but for me, it's the only one that makes sense. My female radiation oncologist completely agrees that to further destroy the breast and then try to rebuild it makes no sense. And even though I tested negative for the gene, I have a strong family history and there could be another genetic component to this we don't know about. I have an option to do a single mastectomy with reconstruction, keep the "healthy" breast and have it augmented to match the other one. However, I will need to have mammograms every 6 months on that side. And to be honest, I have major trust issues with the mammograms, considering my experience. This does not mean you should not have a mammogram. Don't misinterpret what I am saying. 

My feeling is, I do not want to go through this HELL ever again. I am living in a constant state of anxiety already. I do not want to have a future of more biopsies, more needles, more waiting, more living in a holding pattern, more living appointment to appointment. More feeling like I'm living in constant fear of an act of terrorism. I'm not exaggerating. If you have ever experienced something like this, you will understand. It is no way to live. And the sad thing is, there are millions of women who feel like this every day and keep on going. You may not know the angst they are feeling, but believe me, it's  there. But they try to put on a happy face. When they do get some alone time, they are falling apart inside.

So, enough of that. My Pity Party is coming to an end. 

The bottom line is, I have to make the decision which will give me peace of mind and no regrets down the road.  When I tell people about this decision, the response is a resounding,"Good for you!" That, and a sigh of relief and a, "I was hoping you would do that!"  Now, I am not saying  that my decision is what every woman with breast cancer should do.  Breast Cancer is so complex and no 2 cases are the same. There are phenomenal treatment options which include preserving the breasts with good prognoses.  

Thanks to research, technology and a bunch of wicked smart people, there are so many options available and Breast Cancer no longer means a death sentence. I plan on being here to harrass you all for a VERY long time. Don't worry. My new knockers may require a change in my blog site to "Becky's Big Boobs".  Stay tuned.....

2 comments:

Gale Riley said...

Hey, Becky.....I am Gale, your friend Kelly's mother-in-law...8 1/2 years out, cancer free after lumpectomy, negative sentinel node and seven weeks of radiation, 5 years of Arimidex. Stay brave and true to yourself, we all make our treatment decisions with our heads and hearts. I wish you the best, and a good outcome

SHARON ELLEN BURTMAN said...

You are truly an amazing woman to be able to share your journey with such depth, grace, and eloquence. Kudos for going into detail about mammograms. Yes, every woman should get them, as they are tool in our arsenal.