A couple days ago we met with the breast surgeon.
Nothing really unexpected. The surgeon, whom I loved, said she thought it probable that there is more going on that just DCIS. Could be Stage 1, could be Stage 2.
In order for her to be able to do a lumpectomy, they would first have to do MRIs and more biopsies, then see if they can use chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. As it is, to get out the tumor and 1cm margins all around, the amount taken would be between golf ball and tennis ball size. Basically half of my whole breast.
So I said FUCK IT TAKE THE WHOLE THING NOW AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT TAKE THE OTHER ONE TOO
One may wonder, why take the healthy breast? Well, it’s healthy…for now. And they aren’t 100% sure it is healthy. Apparently I have “dense” breasts that don’t show up real great on the usual images. Maybe they missed something super small, something they would find on the MRI. I don’t quite trust my body like I used to. Lots of numbers of survival rates and likelihood of the other side developing cancer and that mastectomy is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. And I get it. It’s not even that the idea of asymmetry bothers me (I’m not getting reconstruction, but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nother post). But I don’t want to have this again. I don’t want to be worried about having this again.
So double mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy. The second part refers to taking a couple lymph nodes to be totally sure the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the breast.
And that brings me to my fears.
I’m not happy to be getting surgery. I’d far prefer not to be on this path. I’m afraid of so much–the general anesthesia, making the wrong decision, being cut open, losing a part of my body, pain, long recovery.
But my biggest fear, the one that makes my heart pound and my stomach drop, is what the pathology report will say. I want it to say “it was dcis after all!” or “stage 1 and clear lymph nodes!”. I’m scared shitless that the news will be worse. It’s already been clearly stated that hormone-blocking drugs will be strongly recommended. I’m afraid that chemotherapy will also be in my future.
When I first had the mammogram and ultrasound, the doctor said “10-15% chance of cancer; 90% probably not”. Then “okay it’s cancer but stage 0”. Now it could be Stage 2. I kinda feel like I’m given shit news–but Look! Silver Lining! Then the silver lining turns out to have been an illusion the whole time. I’m not mad at the doctors, at all. This stuff is hard and there is no perfect test. But damn.
I want so much for the surgery to be it. It’s over, back to your regularly scheduled program. Back to your normal life, except now with fewer curves. I’m afraid that I will need more treatments and more testing and more procedures and more doctors. More cancer.
But one step at a time. This week’s step was meeting with the breast surgeon. Next step is surgery and getting this thing, this malignancy out of my body. Originally we had a date set for about 3 weeks from now, but there was a cancellation and I, not looking forward to waiting more multiple weeks, took the opportunity to move it up. Wednesday 23 May is the day.