After I sat down and talked with my surgeon, I knew exactly how I need to move forward with my treatment. There was only one way in my mind that I could get the results that I want – a life that is cancer-free and worry-free.
I committed to it, booked my surgery and was quite happy.
But I’ve never had a major surgical procedure – in fact my lumpectomy is my only other experience. I still have my tonsils and my appendix. I’ve not been in hospital since my youngest daughter was born nearly 21 years ago. Both my childbirths were natural with absolutely no issues – not even a single stitch! I’ve never broken a bone, never been on crutches, rarely had so much as an X-ray! My worst health issue is my hay fever!
And a bilateral mastectomy is no joke. I mean, once my boobs are gone, there’s no way to bring them back. I can have things that look a bit like boobs recreated on my chest, but they don’t feel or act like real boobs.
So the logical, sensible part of me decided to get a second opinion.
I hoped that this second surgeon would confirm that I was making the right choice. In fact, I was slightly worried that more options might be suggested which could make my resolve waver and I would have to rethink my decision. This surgery is hard enough to face with few doubts, it would be nearly impossible if I was filled with doubts.
But still, there was a tiny part of me that wanted to hear I didn’t have to make such a drastic choice.
My visit with this second surgeon was great. She went through my history, my pathology results and examined me. She then proceeded to give me her recommendations – and they were pretty much all the same as my own surgeon. She agreed a mastectomy was the best choice for my right breast. To do another lumpectomy then radiation would give me a shrivelled boob anyway, it may as well be gone. Oh to have started with bigger boobs! (How many times have I said that over the last few weeks??)
She also gave me the same statistics for having another cancer in my left breast – and the numbers are still too high, so in her opinion the bilateral mastectomy is the best way to go taking in my age and lifestyle factors, and while secondary, symmetry would be easier to achieve too.
But that was not the interesting part of the appointment. When we were talking she explained my mammogram and ultrasound to me. She was absolutely amazed that my cancer was picked up. She said that if I had just gone in for normal mammogram screening, I would have been passed as normal. She even explained that my ultrasound – which I thought must have been super clear the way the staff acted at the time – was actually not either. In fact she said I really need to send a card to the radiologist for picking this up!
While I am incredibly thankful that this has been picked up early and I can deal with it decisively now, it is so scary to think how easily this could have been missed! This is not some small little lump – this lump was 4cm across when it was removed! Imagine what my chances would have been if that was invasive?
So I now have a month to get my head around the fact that I am definitely loosing my boobs. Yes, it was my decision, but it’s still a really tough thing to have to face. That small glimmer that there may be another option has now gone. My logical mind says this is absolutely the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I wont mourn.