Archive for April 3rd, 2012

So it took me a little while to get past the fact that I hate all the options: frankly, they all suck. But since I have to (as Pete says) ‘choose life’ I have to pick one. And the doctors really weren’t much help. Well, at first it seemed pretty clear: mastectomy would be the best choice. Least chance for it to return, possibility of no radiation or chemo, best chance for a somewhat normal looking breast. Longer surgery and recovery process, more painful – but I can deal with that.

So last Tuesday, as we made our rounds, by the time we got to the reconstructive plastic surgeon, I was pretty convinced it was the right move. We waited over two hours to see him and then got about 10 minutes of his time (after the video), in which he threw me a curve ball: basically said that he could never make a breast as good as a real breast and that if it was him he’d do everything he could to save his real one and to try the lumpectomy first. What?!?!

I don’t know about you, but I wanted a really confident – cocky even – plastic surgeon who would tell me how beautiful I would be when this was all over and that I wouldn’t miss it at all. Ha! Not even close. So it pissed me off and I just wanted to forget the whole thing. Then I remembered that is not one of the options. Which pissed me off even more.

So I calmed down a bit on Wednesday, and on Thursday called my breast surgeon asking for a referral to a different reconstructive plastic surgeon. She was shocked. “But Dr. H is the best! We’ve never gotten one complaint about him and he’s the very best at breast reconstruction.” She assured me that she’d get another referral for me, but also asked if she could talk to Dr. H’s admin about it, as she was sure he’d want to talk to me again. I agreed, conceding everyone has a bad day.

Long story short, he called and we spoke for about 45 minutes. He was genuinely sorry we got off on the wrong foot, but he also wanted to be clear that he cannot perform miracles and only God can make a real breast. This will not be the same and I shouldn’t expect it to be. I probably won’t have any feeling in it. And while he will do a lift on the other side (should I be lucky and not have the gene and have to do a double), they won’t look the same. Yes, this sucks, but it’s also better than having one that is much smaller than the other from the radiation and also has a huge chunk taken out of it – nothing normal about that either!

I realize I’m being vain. That I shouldn’t worry about how it will look and only be concerned with my health. I’m sorry but I can’t help it – I plan to live and thrive after this and I want to be happy with myself too, and hopefully be able to stand looking at myself. I guess we’ll have to see about that part.

Anyway, after our talk I agreed to see him again – and that appointment was today. Tara joined me this time. He was very similar to before – all business and straight to the point, but I got it this time. We talked through the procedure, which will be the tissue expander option. Basically after the breast surgeon removes my breast, he’ll start to put me back together, inserting the tissue expander (like a balloon). Then over a couple of months I’ll go in periodically for saline injections. Once the skin has stretched enough, I’ll have another surgery to put the implant in. And then a few months later will be nipple reconstruction. And the lift on the other side so they somewhat match. Yes, a long road – let’s hope the lymph nodes are clean so we don’t have to add chemo or radiation!

So I am now scheduled for a double mastectomy on April 30. We scheduled for worst case scenario because it’s easier to take the time off and just do one if the gene test comes back negative than it would be to add the time. It’s so late in the month because I asked what was the latest I could safely push it off to because I need some time to get my head around it all, and to get things in order at home and work (although everyone is so supportive and has assured me all will be fine and not to worry about it).

I feel better this way. I have time, I can get things in order, I have a plan and know, for the most part, what’s going to happen. I know, I know, the best laid plans… but you can’t blame a girl for trying, right?

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Another perspective

To help me on this strange new journey I’ve been forced to take, my good friend Vicky took the time to share her own cancer story. I am sure you will be as inspired by her and her family’s strength and courage. She was just 19 and was giving birth to her baby when the cancer was discovered. Read more here: http://mycrazylife37.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/reflection

I am still in awe, and so thankful you are here today, Vicky! xoxo


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Thank you

Thank you – two little words that will never really describe how grateful I am for all the incredible people in my life. My family, friends, co-workers, past and present – I don’t know how I’ve gotten so lucky to always be surrounded by such caring, supportive, thoughtful, intelligent people! (Yes I’m talking about YOU! And ok, you are funny and gorgeous, too! 🙂 )

The outpouring of love and support over the last two weeks has been completely overwhelming. From the notes on facebook, texts, letters in the mail, e-mails, tweets, phone calls, office chats, lunches, dinners and long walks – I am so grateful to know how much you care. Seriously, if cancer can be beaten by prayers, positive thoughts, good vibes and general well-wishes, we’ve got this won hands-down. And I believe it can be.

So while sometimes I will get  bitchy, bossy (as normal, right?), depressed, weepy and weary, know that deep down I know this is not the end of the world (I won’t let it be) and that I am endlessly thankful every minute of every day for every single one of you…

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