The waiting to know part is over. I’m scheduled for surgery in a week from today, having been as-cleared-as-I’m-gonna-be for more tumors or lymph node involvement (either which would dictate a round of chemo before surgery). So then a decision had to be made: do I trust that the one tumor is it, and that my lymph nodes are cancer-free and go with the less invasive surgery? Or do I say enough is enough – I don’t want to worry for the rest of my life?
Here’s the deal. Every time I have had a breast exam, the examining doctor thinks s/he feels something abnormal. Every time I’ve had an ultrasound – of either breast – I’ve been told, “wow, you’re loaded with cysts.” Every time.
When my MRI “lit up” a new spot in my affected breast, I had to go in for another ultrasound. They said it was okay, just another cyst. But then a day later they said, “Oops, wait a minute. The spot in question was hiding behind the cyst we just filmed; we need another look.” And that other look led to another biopsy, this time with a benign result. But can you imagine how the time in between having the biopsy and getting the results was for me? Torture. Agony. Because that would have changed the game plan again, and would have meant a whole new battery of tests and more waiting – which I’ve already done a lot of, thank you very much.
But that experience sort of solidified what I was thinking anyway. My breast tissue, with it’s galaxy of cysts where evil can hide, is of no good use to me anymore. I want to do whatever I can to make this a difficult part of our history, not a recurring nightmare. Will having a double mastectomy mean I’ll never get cancer again? There is no 100% guarantee. Will it give me more peace of mind? I think so.
I now know A LOT of women who have been through this, and who have graciously shared their stories with me. I know women who opted for the lumpectomy, only to find out when the final pathology report came back that the cancer had indeed spread, or that their lymph nodes were indeed involved. Once they recovered from the first surgery, they had to go in for another, much harder one. There is only so much information that can be gleaned from imaging. The only way to know for sure is to get in there and look.
I have a long haul in front of me. I’ve been told recovery is no picnic. It is difficult to imagine not being able to hold my boy for a while, and I’m extremely worried about how this will affect him. We’ve given him bite size information so far; how he will react to seeing me finally actually looking sick is a big unknown. But whatever discomfort I go through now I believe will be worth it in the long-run. I intend to be here for him, and for John. I am calling up all of my Jersey Girl strength, and piss and vinegar, to triumph over this stupid disease.
Let’s do this.