This was the way my surgeon described my breasts today while he was explaining the details of my pathology report, as if my chest were the feature of a new Richard Scarry children’s book.
Richard Scarry’s Busy BreastTown
That’s certainly one way to explain my breast cancer diagnosis.
I went in last Thursday to have an ultrasound on a new lump that had formed in my left breast. I wasn’t really concerned, considering the long history I have with biopsies, fiberadenomas, calcifications, my family history, etc, etc. My assumption was that it would be another benign cyst, and I’d have gone through this whole process again for nothing. The tech noticed some sort of abnormality (again, not out of the ordinary) and scheduled me for a biopsy the following morning.
I’ll spare you the details of said biopsy (it involves a large, hollow needle) and skip to Monday when I received a phone call from a very chipper woman named Jeanne. She started by asking me questions like:
“Are you at work?” Yes.
“Are you sitting down?” Yes…
“Are you comfortable there?” Not anymore.
And then Jeanne broke the news to me- there was an abnormality in the tissue sample from the biopsy. And congratulations, you have invasive ducal carcinoma! I couldn’t think of anything to do but laugh. Is this really happening? Am I in an alternate reality? Is this a cruel trick because guess what it’s not April 1st? RUDE.
But it IS real and there is no question about it- I have cancer. I’m 29 years old, active, healthy, and generally happy…and I have cancer. This shit is bananas.
And so begins a string of appointments; meetings with my cancer “team”, oncologists, surgeons, genetic counselors, plastic surgeons, therapists…the list goes on. On Wednesday, I had an MRI that showed further spots, so on Monday I get to have further ultrasounds and possible biopsies. Today I met with my surgeon to discuss options for surgical removal of the tumor. Tomorrow I’ll meet with a genetic counselor. Later on next week, I’ll meet with an oncologist to discuss my treatments, whether or not I’ll need chemotherapy, radiation, medication, or some combination of those.
In the meantime, I have to think long and hard about what I want to do with my breasts. I’m 29 and seriously considering having a double mastectomy. I could also just have a single mastectomy, removing my left breast and leaving my right untouched. Or I could opt to have a lumpectomy. After all, my tumor is only 1.8cm and is stage 1. It’s hormone receptive and HER-2 negative. As far as cancer diagnoses go, this is definitely not the worst one to receive. But if I keep my breasts, I will have to be vigilant in monitoring them for changes every single year for the rest of my life. If I remove them, I greatly decrease my chance of recurrence, but I lose the option to ever breastfeed a child. And if I do remove them, do I care enough to get them reconstructed?
What do I do?
The short answer? I have no fucking clue. There is so much that is unclear at the moment. What I do know is that I have an incredible partner who is so supportive of me and my choices, a wonderful family who is behind me 100%, and the best friends who check in on me and love me more than I could ever expect. So while this entire situation may suck a big bag of dicks, I know that I am loved and supported.
I guess this will be the new home for musings on lopping my tits off and what it’s like to wear so many fashionable hospital gowns. Brace yourselves.
PS: Jeanne is a wonderful lady. She just delivered the worst news of my life and I was, rightfully so, a little upset.
PPS: Sorry, guys. I know this isn’t my best writing, but I’m a bit emotional and I’m also writing on an iPAD. Fuck Apple products #rt