Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Breasts Behaving Badly

In March of 1991, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Last month, I was diagnosed with breast cancer once again. 21 years later....here we go again.

I've decided the best thing (for me) is to just blog it out. I need to put it all somewhere, so I'll start here. Hopefully, the journey won't be so long that this will be an ongoing theme. I know that some of you just may not want to hear it. I'll try to make the titles obvious enough that you can skip them if you so desire.

When I first found out that my mammogram was wonky, the surgeon said that 80% of these types of tumors are NOT malignant. So I sort of felt kicked in the gut when I found out that mine WAS malignant, not to mention the fact that she got in there & there were 3 tumors instead of just one! Ordinarily, 3 or more tumors = mastectomy, but she (Oh..."she" is Dr. Nancy Gantt, the best damn breast surgeon in these parts!) decided to try to get them all anyway. And she did. BUT one didn't have clear margins, so she wants to go back in and see if she can clear out some more potentially cancerous tissue.

Because of the unclear margins, she wants to be certain that nothing else is lurking in there that she may have missed, so my next procedure will be an MRI... that is if they can do it with my knee replacement. So that should be scheduled in 2 or 3 weeks, as they need the inflammation from the first surgery to go away.

The MRI will tell us if I need a mastectomy...not a word I wanted to hear! But I guess if there's more little cancer cells dancing around in there, that's the only way to wipe them out.

No matter what the MRI shows, I will definitely have to have some lymph nodes removed. Had that done 20 years ago and it was awful. But I'm counting on the fact that it's been improved over the years. (After all, I had a similar lumpectomy 20 years ago and I was laid up for weeks! This one is almost healed and I never took a pain pill! So the lymph node surgery should be better, too. Right?) And if I don't need the mastectomy, she will likely still want to get more of the tissue surrounding the naughty node that didn't have the good margins.

I have a lot of stuff to read, including the lab report. The Breast Navigator (I'm sorry, but there HAS to be a better job title than that!) gave me a pamphlet with all the medical jargon in plain English. She went through and highlighted everything that applies to me, so I can refer to it while I read the pathology report. I haven't had the energy to look at it yet. And I probably won't for a day or two. I'm really good at denial & procrastination...

I also chose an oncologist. I'm using the same one Gary has, Dr. Awida. We both really like her and the surgeon says she goes to all the breast health seminars and keeps current.

So far this experience hasn't been that torturous. I'm attributing that to the fact that I watched Gary undergo a stem cell transplant the summer of 2010. That, my friends, is torture! Also, I've had a Total Knee Replacement. Although it wasn't that bad, that's pretty major surgery. You know...severing muscles, chopping up & removing bones, etc. So putting those 2 things in perspective, I can do this.

Also, so far the personnel part of it has been exceptional. The hospital staff were so nice. They listened, they comforted, they were upbeat. And I got a card after my surgery hand signed by all the nurses who took care of me while I was there! Dr. Gantt is wonderful! She's the type of person who can give you bad news, and make it sound not so bad. And she has such confidence, that some of it can't help but rub off.

So that's where I am right now. I'm imbued in the clinical aspect right now. Later I'll allow the emotional aspect to seep in. Not now though. I'm too tired...

Cancer sucks...but shit happens...and there are those (Gary) who have suffered far worse and survived...so I guess I can do this...even if I'd rather it hadn't turned out this way...

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1 comment:

Jenn said...

I love your attitude, Linda! Staying positive is one of the biggest parts of dealing with this. You have many friends cheering you on... you'll do great!

P.S. I think I've dated a few guys who would love the job title - Breast Navigator. ;) <3