Wednesday, August 6, 2008

So which day is worse?

It's pretty hard to top the day we found out my initial diagnosis. But yesterday came close.

We saw both the oncologist and plastic surgeon in the same day. That was rough. What also made it so rough was having to make decisions that affect the rest of our lives. The "our" part is important because my husband and I are a unit. We act together, in everything. Breast cancer doesn't make it different.

We got lucky. We like all of our doctors and really don't feel compelled to go searching for others. All of them are kind, all are concerned but I gotta give some points to our oncologist. He's a gem.

Most people don't go searching for an oncologist until after their surgery. Not me. I'm a organization freak. I know I wouldn't be able to assess my situation accurately after life altering surgery. So I had to meet his guy now, before I hit the table. And I'm very glad I did.

We decided before seeing the oncologist that he was the perfect person to confirm our initial diagnosis. He did that. We also addressed our fears of the future. I might have had a clean left MRI but I was still concerned with the ongoing monitoring for the rest of my life. What I learned was that the "probability" is really probability at it's precise definition. No one can really tell me squat.

So knowing that, we decided to look at what we knew. There's a higher chance for women with DCIS to have another round happen in the other breast. That's gray hair and wrinkles to me. It's dark clouds and worry. We have three kids, we enjoy our lives, my husband has hundreds of softball games to play and I want to see them. We both don't want to worry anymore.

Bottom line: we don't ever want to be diagnosed with breast cancer ever, ever again.

So, we decided to have the left side removed too. It's preventative maintenance (sounds like my car) but there it is. Get rid of the boob, I don't worry. It's so infinitely simple and so emotionally complex, it's hard to comprehend.

Some very hard facts smacked us directly in the face yesterday. I have a 30-40 percent chance of early-onset menopause. I will need to be checked for sterility after my chemo. Oh yea, I will be getting chemo for 12 weeks. So my secret hope got tossed out the window with the basic fact that any lump over 1 cm is treated with chemo. Mine was 1.4 cm.

We decided, with the oncologist's help, to not have any more children by freezing eggs. This was rough because if ever there was a man on this earth that deserved a son, it's my husband.

What we didn't know until yesterday was that it's much easier to construct matching breasts when the plastic surgeon is working from a clean slate and not trying to match an existing breast. I don't have enough tummy fat to make even 2 A cup boobs so that option is out.

The plan right now is to do implants with a mesh hammock-like support against the remaining muscle of my chest. Both nipple and areola complexes will be gone. Hell if I know if they'll tattoo or reconstruct nipples. I was too in shock to even ask the plastic surgeon. What we do know is that the left side skin cannot be saved long enough until I recover from chemo to create a nipple for either breast (nipple construction is usually at the end of the road).

I say get it gone. I'm tired of worrying.

I'm going to get my hair colored next week, one more time. I'm also giving my dear hairdresser the honor of cutting off 10 inches of hair. She's had to color this mess for so many years, she deserves the honor. Sad part is that 10 inches is about 1/3 of my hair length. My little one likes to fiddle with my hair when she's tired so I'm gonna try to do this in stages tso ease her away from her security blanket.

Little and big decisions...way too many at one time.

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