THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

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Image from mattkimbrow.com
Thank you so much for your messages, texts, calls and emails. I really appreciate every one. I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond or return all calls but I will try to catch up this weekend. Weekdays are pretty much shot, I'm out of the house 7am-6:15pm and pretty much fall asleep with Zoe every night for a few hours before hitting the sack. Your well wishes, thoughts and prayers are helping keep my spirits up.

We don't need help right now, but after surgery on Feb 4th we will be asking for and accepting all of the help we can get. More updates this weekend.

Feeling the love,
Megan

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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.

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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy aka Boob Hole Torture Table

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PSA: If you ever have to get a stereotactic breast biopsy make sure the boob they are not stabbing is safely tucked away and protected from the hole.

My mammograms and ultrasound showed a suspicious mass and microcalcifications, a tiny cluster of small calcium deposits that are associated with extra breast cell activity and may indicate early cancer.

There are two types of stereotactic breast biopsies: vacuum-assisted device (VAD) which uses a vacuum powered instrument to collect multiple tissue samples during one needle insertion and core needle (CN) which uses a large hollow needle to remove one sample of breast tissue per insertion. It's only been 4 days since I had mine and I have completely forgotten which one I had, hence why I'm starting this blog so I can remember this crap.

The most uncomfortable part of the procedure is supposed to be neck and back pain from lying on the concave table. They warn you that it will take several attempts to get your boob in the right position before they start collecting tissue samples. It took 8 repositioning and scans to finally find the right angle to get to my lump. On the 2nd repositioning the nurse caught my other nipple in the machine, slicing it open and taking a nick out of my left nipple. "She didn't see it". The pain from that was so bad that the actual stabbing of the biopsy completely paled in comparison. The whole thing took almost an hour on the table.

As I laid on the table in blood, tears and searing pain, my doctor said they were able to get the samples they needed and they were going to insert the titanium marker to indicate the area they biopsied. I had to wait another 15 minutes in the hole with applied pressure to stop the bleeding from the biopsied area. I was listening to my Thumbprint Radio Station on Pandora and Madilyn Bailey's version of "Titanium" came on.

I have a new theme song.

You shout it loud, but I can't hear a word you say
I'm talking loud, not saying much
I'm criticized, but all your bullets ricochet
you shoot me down, but I get up
I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose

fire away, fire away
ricochet, you take your aim
fire away, fire away
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
Cut me down, but it's you who'll have further to fall

Ghost town and haunted love
Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I'm talking loud, not saying much
I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose
fire away, fire away
ricochet, you take your aim

fire away, fire away
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
I am titanium
I am titanium
Stone hard, machine gun
Fired at the ones who run
Stone hard, as bulletproof glass

You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall

I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
I am titanium


Written by Sia, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort and Afrojack




I found radiologyinfo.org a great resource for Stereotactic Breast Biopsy if you need more information.

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It is a tumor

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Today was the first time I heard the word "tumor" and I kinda freaked the fuck out. I'm not sure what else I thought this lump/mass would be, but for some reason the word tumor just sounds a hell of a lot scarier than lump. I think I might start biting my nails waiting for the results to come in.

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