Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Okay, so it's true that I haven't posted here in a while, well, since March. That's when my life changed and things won't ever quite be the same for me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. But, let me back up a bit. Three years ago, my mother was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, with that I sought out genetic testing, which meant I had to meet with a genetic counselor after first meeting with an Oncologist. Fine. My testing for the BRCA (Breast Cancer) genes came back negative for me. Apparently, that doesn't really mean you are in the clear if you have an extensive family history as I do. What that does mean is that I have a genetic mutation, one that has yet to be identified scientifically. It was recommended that I be put under "surveillance" for cancer and followed by the Oncologist and, being the proactive gal that I am, that is exactly what I did. I began having a mammogram, then six months later I would have a MRI, and yearly I was followed for breast exam by an Oncologist. This went on for 3 years. In December of last year, while at my Oncologist appointment, the breast manual exam was without abnormalities then the doctor left the room to get some information for me, while she was gone something happened to me that I can only describe as a precognitive knowing. As if someone whispered in my ear and said, "Honey, there is a storm coming," I knew breast cancer was in my future. I knew clearly, without a shade of gray of a doubt. When the Oncologist came back into the room, I looked at her with fear in my eyes and a knowing of certainty like I've never experienced before, I told her I needed to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. I knew then that I wasn't going to escape this. I went straight home and told my husband who, like the Oncologist, thought I was reacting irrationally. I waited, partly in fear of the truth, to have my mammogram. In March, after much pressure from my subconscious mind, I finally had my mammogram. Sure enough, I was called back for a re-do,.....second mammogram: suspicious. I immediately had ultrasound by a technician and then the radiologist came in, examined me, and looked at me as a scolding parent would saying several times: "You need to act on this now, don't wait, get to a surgeon!" He said my suspicious lump had calcifications and a blood supply to it; these are characteristics of a cancerous tumor. I was in surgery within a week for an excisional biopsy. Three days later the call came in by my surgeon telling me it was exactly as we suspected: malignant. Now what? My pathology was described as the "best" breast cancer you can be diagnosed with. Was that the silver lining? I was also told that I needed a second surgery, followed by 6 weeks of radiation and a 5-10 years course of estrogen blocker oral medication to put me straight in hell, I mean menopause. Within one week, I learned about breast cancers of various presentations, I met with the Oncologist again to discuss my options and learn about my cancer (MY cancer) I met with an Oncology Radiologist to discuss treatment and side effects, I met with 3 plastic surgeons, and breast surgeons to discuss my options for Bilateral Mastectomy. I attended a support group to meet other women survivors undergoing treatments for breast cancer, many receiving chemo; this is when I knew, without further question, the only treatment plan for me was the Bilateral Mastectomy. My risk for recurrence following the treatment of this cancer was 40 plus percent with radiation,, too high for this survivor girl. I then went into surgery again for what is called a lumpectomy, during this surgery, a larger section, the size of a golf ball, is removed around where the tumor resided in the breast. Success! All the margins came back clear from pathology and they say the cancer has been totally removed. Because cancer is so unpredictable, the radiation was prescribed to eradicate cancer stem cells left behind. I chose Bilateral Mastectomy instead of all other treatments, supposedly this will be as close to a cure for future breast cancer one can get. With this choice, I won't need radiation, estrogen blockers, and will never, ever need a mammogram again in my lifetime. I'm scheduled for my surgery on September 4th. I took a good long time to find a good surgeon and plastic specialist for reconstruction. I'm happy with my decision, it's the only one for me. I could not withstand the every six month surveillance anymore, wondering and waiting to hear the cancer word again or endure countless needle or surgical biopsies. I'm scared for sure, no doubt. I'm also certain that with the love, prayers, and support of friends and family I can survive this as well. I've had my share of tragedies in my life thus far and I know all of them have prepared me for the strength I need to face this surgery, the mutilation, the reconstruction, the suffering. I can do this. Life is good!
Posted by Victoria Hart at 10:41 PM