It's Cancer. I am One in Eight.
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)
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.
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.