It's Cancer. I am One in Eight.

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I found a lump the day after Christmas. A few days later I had an ultrasound needle biopsy that left a titanium marker clip in the shape of a cancer ribbon near the lump. After that I had a Stereotactic Core Biopsy that focused on the area with microcalcifications we found in the mammograms. That biopsy left a titanium marker clip in the shape of the letter "M".

I was eating lunch with a co-worker when I got the call. "Is this a good time to talk?" is never followed by good news. "We found cancer".

The good news is the "M" microcalcifications area turned out benign. The bad news is the cancer ribbon tumor area came back positive for cancer (I have a titanium cancer ribbon marking the spot where I will be actually fighting cancer).

I met with my surgeon, Phd MD Grace Tay, and she is great. My step-mom's sister, Terry, actually works in our surgery clinic and knows (and highly recommends) Dr. Tay. Terry came to our appointment with us and she was a tremendous help. Terry can schedule the best team of nurses and anesthesiologist when it's time for my surgery (so awesome to have someone on the inside). I feel like I'm in really good hands.

"Infiltrating ductal carcinoma"
The tumor is just over 1cm and grade 2 (moderately growing cancer cells). We don't know what stage it is, if it's metastasized, or if I need chemo. We won't have those answers until surgery.

I have two choices:
1. lumpectomy plus 5 weeks of daily radiation
2. mastectomy (with or without reconstruction)

The immunohistochemistry came back positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors making me a candidate for tamoxifen. This is really good news because breast cancers in younger women are more likely to be fast-growing, higher grade and hormone receptor-negative, making the cancers more aggressive and more likely to require chemotherapy. With my cancer being estrogen and progesterone receptor-positive and being a moderate grade, my chances of chemotherapy decrease. After surgery I will need to be on medication for 5 years that has menopausal side effects that will most likely lead to early menopause.

I met with my plastic surgeon to discuss reconstruction options. After my Dr. Google research I was really hoping for "muscle-sparing" free TRAM flap reconstruction. It is a single but much more difficult and time-consuming surgery requiring a longer recovery. If done well it is a one and done surgery and should not need more attention over the course of a lifetime. The other reconstruction option is an implant that involves two surgeries that are easier with shorter recoveries but over time are more prone to problems and infections and additional procedures to correct those problems.

Unfortunately, I'm not a candidate for the flap reconstruction so my choices are mastectomy (with implant or no implant) or lumpectomy with radiation. I have really strong reservations about the long term effects of radiation. I'm 41 now. My fear is doing the lumpectomy with radiation only to have cancer come back in 5-10 years and to have limited options then due to the radiation damage.

So on February 4th, I'll be saying good-bye to my right boob as I know it with a mastectomy. I contemplated a double mastectomy, but I'm keeping lefty for now and trying to do genetic testing to see if I'm at risk for ovarian cancer. I thought about no implant and not doing reconstruction, but in the end vanity wins, I kinda like having 2 boobs.

Timeframe:
12/26/15 I found a lump
12/29/15 Dr. confirmation
12/30/15 mammogram, ultrasound, and ultrasound needle biopsy
1/5/15 stereotactic core biopsy
1/7/15 "Is this a good time to talk?" It's cancer.
1/12/15 met with surgeon
1/14/15 met with plastic surgeon
??? When/how/what do I tell my kids?
2/4/15 mastectomy +6 week recovery
4-6 months later reconstruction surgery +6 week recovery

In 8 months I hope to be cancer free and have 2 boobs again. I'll be blogging my progress, inevitable ups and downs, and sharing resources as I find them. Feel free to add your email to follow along on this countdown.

14 comments :

  1. You sound amazingly organized and well informed - I look forward to reading about your recovery (and your experiences), thank you.

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  2. We love you Megan and are here all the way! ❤️ Pat & Dad

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  3. We are with you every single centimeter of the way until this damn cancer is eradicated! ❌⭕️️❌⭕️️

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  4. Rooting for you Megan. Good luck! #fuckcancer

    Lac

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  5. I got you. You got this.I love you, Megan.

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  6. Megan, I'm still not sure how it is that I've ended up laughing while crying reading your blog. Your sense of humor is amazing. It will get you through this insanity. So will your strength and your gracefulness and your creativity. Lac and I are following your journey and cheering you on.

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  7. Just finished reading all of your blog posts - you're blowing my mind that you have the energy to write up all of this information with pictures no less, you're amazing!

    I hateHateHATE that you're having to go through this. Whatever you need - dark chocolate, fried chicken, a cute pug - just say the word and it shall be delivered.

    *super hug*

    - genevieve

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  8. Cancer is a b****! You've got this. Thinking of you and sending good vibes! Stay strong.

    -Roberta

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  9. Megan, I'm so so sorry to hear this news, but I already sense that you are approaching it strongly with an intelligent plan and will whack it out of the park! Just say the word, chickendinner, and one will be there for you and your family.
    Sending love and hugs,
    Margaret and Phil

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  10. Hey Megan,

    Thanks for taking the time to write all this up -- I've been talking to Scott and he's keeping me updated. You are going to kick the shit out of this cancer. Brooklyn Sershen/Finnertys got your back! We love you.

    Dan and the crew

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  14. So sorry Megan,
    Stay strong and keep that amazing sense of humor! I don't know how you do it. I do know that blogging is a great way to keep your sanity. It sure helped me during Randy's cancer! I hate that you have to go through breast cancer and it's treatment. I am here to help in any way I can in your cancer free count down! I love you Megan. Let us know how we can help! (((Big big hugs)))
    Randy and Colleen

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