When this journey first began, things happened very quickly. It was one doctor appointment after another, with scans and blood draws in between. When I received the phone call with my lab results from the genetic testing, my first question to the nurse was “Since I’m negative for the gene, I won’t need a mastectomy, right?” She explained that it may be possible to avoid but we would chat again after the 6 treatments were complete.
I remember feeling a sense of excitement that I would be able to have a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and be done. It was a knee-jerk reaction to have the less extensive surgery, since I anticipated that it would mostly be “exploratory” to ensure that the cancer was all gone. At least, that’s how I sorted it out in my head. Since that day, which seems so long ago, I have done my own research, talked with many people and asked all of my doctor’s what their thoughts are for me. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point along the way my thought process changed. I think it mainly has to do with the size of my tumor and my lymph nodes but I’ve been leaning towards the mastectomy route. And after doing a little soul searching, I feel that it makes sense to have a double mastectomy. Frankly, I don’t want to go through this again. Either way though, I trust my doctor’s and was anxious to hear what my surgeon thought today.
While waiting in the room for her, Joe picked up a magazine that had a story about “Orlando’s finest doctors”. My oncologist and my surgeon were both featured in it. I think it’s important to have trust and confidence in your doctor’s and I have both.
The first thing the surgeon did was ask me what my feelings were. I explained my thought process and what my opinion was and that I was anxious to hear hers. Her thought? The same as mine. She even mentioned that if it were her body, she would make the same choice. She tends to be conservative, which I appreciate. I mean, how else is she going to help me live until I’m 97?
The decision doesn’t come lightly. I’ve spent many late nights wondering what to do, what was right, what would make me feel whole and good again. I feel in my heart that this is the right choice for me and my body. And I am at peace with that.
So it’s settled and surgery has been scheduled. On February 2nd, I will have a simple mastectomy of my right breast and a modified double mastectomy of my left breast, including lymph node removal. I will have both breasts removed and tissue expanders will be put in their place. Those will be used to literally expand my breast tissue until I am able to have reconstruction done, which will likely occur after radiation therapy is complete.
I still have a list of questions for the reconstruction doctor (also featured in the magazine!) but I am grateful for the decision to be made and for the next phase of this journey to be scheduled. I don’t anticipate that surgery will be easy and I am a bit concerned about lifting little man (or lack of lifting) but we will get through it and be stronger in the end!