Why do we never take our own advice? Someone close to me recently had to make a life-changing decision – nothing would ever be the same either way. She was really torn. Like this, there was no good decision – the options both sucked in their own way. It seemed so simple to me: either try the 10-10-10 method from Suzy Welch (thanks to Kristen for buying me that book!) , where you consider how you will feel about a decision in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years (or similar), or simply pick a choice, convince yourself you’ve made the decision and live with it for a few days and see how it makes you feel. She listened to me, did some considering in her own way, and then made her decision and stuck to it.
So here I am with this major decision, trying to figure it out, and did I even remember what I told my friend just days ago? Of course not! Not until I ended up doing one by accident. And it did work, because it clearly showed me where my heart was. Here’s what happened…
Today was pre-op. I went to work in the morning and then to the hospital for meeting after meeting after meeting.I still wasn’t sure if I was going with the single or the double. I hate being indeceisive, but just wasn’t sure. I wanted clarification on the money part, though, before finalizing anything, so I called my health insurance. I was told that they would only pay for the left breast if it was deemed ‘medically necessary’ – so if it also had cancer. Well, there you go. I do not have thousands of dollars to do the other side. So it will just be one. The decision was made for me. And… my heart sank. But I knew there was no debating with her, so I said thank you, took the reference number and hung up. I’d have to accept that.
Fast forward to the hospital. I filled Mom and Mark in while waiting for the first appointment. We went in and spoke to the woman about the surgical consent. And there on the first line: bilateral mastectomy. I explained to her what the health insurance had said, she said she would need to get a new form, and called my surgeon’s office. Since she wouldn’t be able to talk to them for a few hours, we were sent on to my other appointments and told she’d catch up to us with the right form later in the afternoon.
So as we went to the different meetings, I digested the fact that it would be a single. And that I’d have to keep coming back here and continually checking the other breast. And going through all the tests. And then the worry any time anything unusual showed up. And the possibility of having to do it all over again. And (sorry – vanity) that I wouldn’t match. It just sucked, and felt like this is only the beginning – now it’s really never going to end.
At the last appointment (anesthesiologist), we met back up with the original (surgical consent) person, as well as talked to my surgeon’s assistant. Their news: my health insurance cannot deny me. It’s part of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act – they have to pay for all related to the other breast, too, to make it symmetrical. To mom and Mark’s surprise, I immediately smiled, said yes, I want the double and signed the consent form. Living with the thought of only having a single, even for those few hours, showed me my true feelings. We all discussed it a bit, I explained, and the anesthesiologist said more and more younger women are electing this, so they don’t have to live with the constant fear of reoccurrence. And the younger we are, the longer we have to live (we hope) and so the more chance we have of it showing up again. No thank you, I want to be done, at least as much as possible.
Another bonus to my decision? I just learned I won’t have to take the Tamoxifen for five years, so there won’t be that concern if I’m ever again in a place where I want to have another child (don’t worry Nick, I’m not there yet!). But it is nice to have some positive options in my future…
Oh – and something that surprised me: tonight at dinner Nick said he knew that was what I was going to do. He turned to Alivia and she confirmed that he said that a week ago. He said that he knew I, like he, would want to do everything I could to just be done with it. And he was right. Like mother, like son. Next time maybe I should ask him what I should do? Hmmm… will really have to think about that one!