|Lovely Pink Paper "Vest"|
The day started early at the surgeon's office. We arrived late at 9:40 for our 9:30 appointment (we told them we would be late because we have kids to get to school, they said that was fine). Checking in took a long time and we waited a long time in the lobby - 40 minutes passed (and everyone that came in went in before us...) before I got up and said, "YoooHooo, I'm still here." :) Turns out they still had me on the schedule for a 10:50 appointment despite them calling the day before to beg me to come at 9:30 instead. Ugh. We were quickly shuffled back into a room where we got to wait a really long time in confinement instead of in the lobby.
Upon arriving in the exam room, I was given the flimsiest piece of paper I've ever seen (pink of course!) that I was supposed to wear - "Open in the Front!" the nurse chirped. My husband and I had a good laugh at the sight of me in this get-up. It didn't close in the front and it didn't even cover my poor sad boobs! And I was supposed to meet the doctor for the first time in this get-up? AND have a serious conversation with this doctor?! Um, my Mama didn't raise no fool, thank you very much! I quickly searched around for something to preserve the last shred of modesty and dignity I had. I found the pillow. The pillow and I became best buds.
|Oh ya, I touched it!|
Thankfully, I was saved by the doctor coming in - FINALLY! The doctor introduced himself and then laughed at my death grip on the pillow. He asked why I was holding on to his pillow for dear life and my husband blurted out, "SHE'S COLD!" Haha! So, I said, "Well, yes, I was cold, but also, I just felt really immodest..." The doctor seemed totally shocked by this! Like how could I possibly have an issue with sitting around with my boobs hanging out?
The doctor took away my friend, the pillow, and examined me. My husband takes great issue with his examination (and all of the doctor's examinations on this day) because he doesn't think anyone should be having to touch the GOOD boob! I told him it's for comparison sakes - my husband continues to be skeptical about this. After the doctor completed the exam, he gave me back my buddy, the pillow. What a pal!
Doctor #1 (Surgeon) Recommends: Mastectomy. He feels that since I have TWO cancers, the same type of cancer but not the same cancer - two separate events - it's too risky to keep the breast. He could do a lumpectomy if that were my choice - but it makes him nervous. Too much chance of recurrence. AND since I have been "blessed" with large breasts - it would be best to do a double mastectomy. We could just take one, but then I'd be looking at several reconstructive surgeries on both breasts to make me even close to even again because they'd have to reconstruct the left breast that would be gone and they'd have to totally redo the right breast so it would be smaller to match the other "new" and improved breast. Not to mention that if I left just one breast, I'd have just one breast during the whole time of my treatment - could be months. There are prosthesis but they are difficult to wear, etc. So, imagine me walking around for months with one boob - oh ya, that's not at ALL weird!
You don't really realize how attached you are to something "silly" like your breasts until you look down and try to imagine yourself without them! I kind of like my boobs! They aren't perfect, let's face it, I'm 41 years old - they've seen better days. But they are MINE and they are part of me. I can almost wrap my mind around losing my left breast (the one with the cancer) but it's just heartbreaking to think of losing the healthy right one.
My husband tried to soothe my fears by saying that, for instance, if he had testicular cancer, HE wouldn't mind if they took BOTH testicles! I said, "That's ridiculous! No one sees your testicles! What does that matter?!" He pondered this for a moment and then said, "Okay, so say I had 'Butt Cheek Cancer,' I would say 'Just take both Butt Cheeks and get it over with!'"
After leaving the lovely paper vest behind and saying goodbye to my pillow friend, we had a quick lunch at Ihop before heading to appointment #2. This one was at the Cancer Center. Appointment #2 was with the Radiation Oncologist - the person that would be managing my treatments should I have radiation treatments. First I met with the nurse who asked almost a million questions. Then, once again, I striped down and put on a hospital gown. I was so thankful to see a hospital gown! Woot! Open in the back this time - Weird!
|Smallest Exam Table Ever!|
Doctor #2 (Radiation Oncologist) Recommends: Lumpectomy. He says that since the two cancers are close enough together, they can just take the lumps (and some tissue) and lymph nodes (4-6) and then chemo (maybe - though he feels it's very likely given my age and fact that there are two cancers) and then I'll have 7 weeks of radiation which he feels would bring my risk of recurrence down the same as if I had a mastectomy. He doesn't see the need for a mastectomy but says it's my call. He is confident that the oncologist (my next doctor appointment) will concur.
Now Greg and I are feeling kind of silly for getting on board with the whole "Let's just chop them off!" train. If 2/3 of the doctors say Lumpectomy - well, duh, that seems like the way to go, right? Unfortunately, the next doctor did NOT concur with his colleague.
Before moving on, I must impart the best part of this second doctor appointment. This doctor, the radiation oncologist, was an older gentleman, probably in his 60's. He was very irritated that the IT department had installed pictures on his exam room computer - so that whenever the computer went to sleep, the pictures of staff would scroll through. He was very distracted by the pictures and he kept getting off topic in the middle of sentences. He wondered aloud if they were real people or if the IT department had just gotten pictures of people off of Google (LOL) and when a picture of a bunch of Nuns came up, he said, "See! Aren't they scary?!" LOL So, as the doctor once again got distracted in mid-sentence by the pictures of the scary nuns scrolling by, Greg reached over to the computer and tapped a key so it would come out of sleep mode and just be the regular "Windows" screen. This is where the doctor looked at my husband like he was the smartest person on the planet! A GENIUS! His mouth was agape! It was hilarious and we all burst out laughing! He really was just so amazed at what had just happened and asked Greg to please tell him what he'd just done!!! Haha! Before we left the room, Greg changed the screen saver to come on only after 60 minutes - so hopefully that nice doctor can avoid the scary nuns in at least one of his exam rooms... I'm sure he's a very good doctor but he really knows nothing about computers! ;)
Now, we moved up one floor for our appointment with the oncologist. We checked in and this is where we first found out that TODAY was National Donut Day!!! Why did no one tell us this?! We would have totally celebrated! This is a holiday I can fully support, thank you very much. Anyway, much to our dismay, there were only 3 sad little donuts left on the table and neither of us felt brave enough to "celebrate" by eating one of the crusty donuts.
We waited a bit and then were called back and seated in a conference room with comfy couches. Greg was thrilled that, finally, we'd found a doctor that I wouldn't have to take my clothes off for! I told him it was only a matter of time...and I was right. The Oncologist entered (and I already know him because I've had struggles with anemia in the past and he's my anemia doctor) and chatted with us a few minutes before leading us to an exam room and giving me a hospital gown (open in the front!). This one was lavender!! Or, at least it used to be lavender before it was washed about 1,000 times... I was just happy to see a different pattern. The same drill followed, exam, poking, prodding - and by this time my poor left boob is getting really sore because I'm STILL bruised from the biopsy 12 days ago and still sore. Get dressed again, doctor comes back.
Doctor #3 (Oncologist) Recommends: Mastectomy. He does NOT agree with the Radiation Oncologist. Since there are two cancers, unrelated to each other, in the same breast, 6 cm apart - one considered small, one considered medium - this warrants not trying to keep the breast. He feels that there is likely something "wrong" with this breast that is making cancer grow. Too risky to try to keep it. I'll be somewhat protected by a cancer drug I'll be put on for 5 years - but it only works for 5 years and after that, my chances of getting cancer again, especially in this same breast. are really high. Double Mastectomy is up to me. But, he agrees that there would be no way to get a matching "pair" without taking both and then starting over. Plus, I'm at a higher risk for getting breast cancer in the right breast. He also brings up that I should have a hysterectomy (not the first time I've heard this - it was also suggested at the Breast Center) because I'm producing too much estrogen and I have the type of cancer that just LOVES estrogen. Again, increasing my chances of getting breast cancer again. If I have a mastectomy, then the hysterectomy (ovaries too) is not AS important but probably still inevitable at some point. We won't know about the chemo recommendation until after surgery when they see how big the largest tumor really is (it's measuring at 17 mm on the MRI which is just under 2 cm). If it's 2 cm, then chemo is for sure. If it's in the lymph nodes, chemo is for sure. The MRI shows that my lymph nodes are swollen which can indicate cancer there, but that could also be swelling from the biopsy still hanging around too - so we won't know anything for sure until after surgery.
To say that it was a day of confusion and crazy emotions would be the understatement of the year. It's now 3:00 a.m. and I've been up since 8 a.m. after barely sleeping. My head is spinning and I can't think straight. I had dinner with BFFs tonight and they all say, "Go for the Mastectomy - Get great boobs! We want you around for a long time! Do what is going to be safest for your future!" (And then SOME people just wanted dibs on getting to fondle my new boobs *cough* SHEREEN *cough*). They are right - BUT wouldn't you want to save YOUR boobs? How can I cut off something that is such a part of ME?! I know it's silly and I know it's just a BOOB (or two) but, wow, I never thought I'd be faced with this choice at 41 years old! I never thought I'd be faced with this choice at all!
To break it down, my two choices are:
#1: Lumpectomy, maybe chemo, radiation for sure, hysterectomy for sure
#2: Mastectomy, maybe chemo, maybe radiation, maybe hysterectomy
Who in their right mind can even MAKE that kind of choice?
So, where do we go from here? I find out the results of the genetic testing on the 16th. I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon to discuss reconstructive breast surgery options on the 21st. I'll need to make a decision within the next couple of weeks so as to schedule the surgery end of June or early July.
Now, where did I put that Valium?
People Outside My Family Who've Seen My Boob: 14
Boob Count: 32