Thursday, May 02, 2013

An Update and a Decision To Make

When I saw the surgeon Tuesday I left the office feeling much better.  After conversations with family and friends since then, I'm learning a lot and understanding better.

The surgeon explained that the cells from the biopsy were pre-cancerous cells.  Given my risk factors, it's likely that the cells would turn into cancer in the next several years.  She said this was the early warning bell from my body.  She also said that I have choices to make and none of them are wrong.  It feels extremely good to know that it's not cancer...yet.  It feels extremely good to feel like I am in control of my body and my choices.

I can decide to have a lumpectomy and continue with the MRI/mammograms.  I can decide to do nothing with it and continue with the screening tools.  I can choose to take Tamoxifen as a preventative drug.  I can choose to have a single or double mastectomy with reconstruction.  None of these are wrong and all would be covered by my insurance.

I am leaning toward the double mastectomy.  I know that it seems radical, but it reduces my chances of breast cancer from about 50-60% to 1-2%.  Given that the general population has a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer, my risk would be lower, even with my family history.  And you know what?  I'm ok with it.  It's not that I'm not scared of the process and the healing and everything that goes with it.  But I'm ok with it for two reasons:  1.  This has been looming over my life for a long time and it's a relief to get it over with.  2.  It's my choice and I can take my time in making the decisions about when and where and how.

When we (and I'm going to say we form now on, because we all were there and it concerns us all), my Mom, my Sister and I, went to genetic counseling 4 years ago, I felt like the test result took the choice from me.  I grieved over the potential loss of my breasts and ovaries.  I felt like this is what identified me as a woman and losing them was so final that I'd no longer be a 'woman'.  In the time since then, I've come to realize that as long as I don't have cancer in me, the choice is mine and that my ovaries and breasts don't define me, I define me.  I say who I am and how I live and what I do.  The power of having a choice is great. 

So in a couple of weeks we meet with the genetic counselor again.  Then I meet with a couple of plastic surgeons to see what my choices are for reconstruction.  I'd love it if they could take my bat wing arm skin, my tummy pooch and the excess fat/skin on my thighs and do something with that.  But my guess is that isn't how it works. 

I need to see how the gastric band would effect any surgery.  And I need to see how it would effect being able to work out; run and lift weights.  I feel like a huge giant slug these last few weeks not working out and I want to get back at it.

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you through all of this.