Tomorrow I will have a double mastectomy and begin the steps for DIEP Flap reconstructive surgery.
How did I get here?
Let me tell you.
June 28th, I found a lump in my left breast while I was putting lotion on after my shower.
July 7th, I went in to see my doctor for an exam and she confirmed what I already knew. I needed to schedule a mammogram.
I’d had a mammogram in January and everything checked out fine.
July 11th, I went in for a 3D mammogram. They then wanted to do an ultra sound that day, so I did.
After the ultra sound. The tech told me to stay put and that she would be back to let me know if she needed to do anything further.
I laid there on the table in my gown, my head full of thoughts. Do I have breast cancer? If they come in and tell me that I need a biopsy, I won’t fall apart. I just had a mammogram in January and everything was fine. Shit…..wait…..at my January mammogram they did call me back in to have another look at my left breast. Have I had breast cancer since January??? Why is the tech taking so long? Shit.
The tech came back in the room and she brought a doctor with her.
I knew that the doctor coming in the room meant that I needed to have a biopsy. I was right.
The tech walked me to the front door and gave me the name of three breast surgeons that I could call to schedule my biopsy. I scribbled them down on a piece of scratch paper. I picked one and scheduled my biopsy.
July 18th, I went in for the biopsy. The breast surgeon and her nurse were awesome and I felt at ease during the biopsy. I asked to look at the ultra sound screen that they were looking at and they adjusted it accordingly. There it was. A black hole.
Me “Is that it?”
Doc “Yep. That’s it. We are going to go in there and take out three little samples and test it. We should have the results by Friday.”
Me “Then what? Do I come in or do you just call me and tell me if I have cancer or not?”
Doc “I will call you.”
July 19th, 20th and most of the 21st were the longest days ever. Finally, at 3:30 pm on Friday, July 21st, I called to see if they had my results. They did, but the doc was in surgery and would be calling me before she left for the day.
Great. At least I will have an answer today.
July 21st. I was trying really hard to pass the time that day and I had ran every errand that I could think of, so I finally decided to just go home and wait for the call. My phone finally rang. Mike heard it and came in the room. As the doctor talked, I kept saying “Uh huh, uh huh, okay, okay, okay, uh huh.” I turned around and looked at Mike and just nodded my head. I think I was expecting it, but clearly, he was not.
Then I told her that I really didn’t hear anything that she said after cancer. She told me to grab some paper and a pen. Good idea.
I started writing things down as she repeated it all.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
most common form of breast cancer
No Radiation at this time
No Chemo at this time
You won’t die.
Lumpectomy or Mastectomy
She said that the office would call me on Monday to schedule an appointment to come in.
Mike and I spent the weekend simply staring at each other with very few words.
July 27th. We met with the breast surgeon and talked about my options.
Option 1. Lumpectomy. Remove the cancer from the left breast and have approximately 30 sessions of radiation.
This sounded awful to me. I couldn’t fathom keeping my breast and constantly wondering if the cancer would come back. I also didn’t like the sound of the 30 sessions of radiation.
Option 2. Mastectomy. I knew right away that was going to be my choice. I knew that a single mastectomy was an option, but I also knew that a double mastectomy was an option and that was what I was going to do. There is a lot of breast cancer in my family on both sides, and having a double mastectomy felt like the right thing to do for me.
I didn’t realize all of the other decisions that were ahead of me.
I was advised from several friends to get a second opinion. This wasn’t really a second opinion on my type of cancer because both breast surgeons were looking at the same pathology reports, but I did want to at least meet with another breast surgeon and see if the same options were suggested.
When I met breast surgeon number two, I knew that a second opinion was a good idea for me. The options were the same, the treatment was the same, and I’m certain that surgeon number one is a great surgeon, but surgeon number two and I just seemed to click. Mike agreed. She answered all of my questions without me having to ask them.
She assured me that my decisions were just that, MY decisions. She assured me that I had options and that I was the one that would make the decisions. We talked about the pro’s and con’s of lumpectomy and mastectomy and in the end, she assured me that it really was a very personal decision that only I could make.
We then began to discuss the options following the double mastectomy.
Reconstructive surgery or not?
I had the option to not have reconstructive surgery or have reconstructive surgery. If I did have reconstructive surgery, I could have implants or I could have DIEP Flap. I didn’t like the idea of having implants in my body and I had not heard of DIEP Flap. After finding out that DIEP Flat meant that I could have my breast reconstructed using my own tissue from my belly, I was very interested in finding out more!
The weekend that I was diagnosed, Mike and I had breakfast at home on Sunday morning and I told him that I just wanted to have coffee, make breakfast and listen to one of my favorite shows, CBS Sunday Morning, and not think about things until we had my doctors appointment. The entire episode was on CANCER! When we realized that, we just looked at each other. I didn’t change the channel. It was actually very interesting to me. They interviewed a group of women that were breast cancer survivors and all of the women had made the decision to not have reconstructive surgery and to “go flat”. That’s what they called it. These women were comfortable in not having reconstructive surgery and knew that having breast or not having breast did not define them as women. I admired them all!
I wasn’t sure that was the path that I would chose and be comfortable with down the road, but I was in awe of their confidence and strength.
My mind went back to the DIEP Flap option. I have cancer, but I might come out of this with perky new boobs with no implants and a tummy tuck? Tell me more.
I tried to read as much info as I could.
Not all plastic surgeons that perform reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy perform DIEP Flap, but my breast surgeon does work with one plastic surgeon that performs this surgery. He is not available to be at my surgery tomorrow, so another plastic surgeon will be there to begin the process of reconstruction.
I met with her last week, and she really wasn’t able to answer all of my questions regarding the DIEP Flap, so I left feeling unsure about all of the decisions that I had made. Just a few hours after that appointment, and knowing that I was leaving dissappointed, her nurse called me. She had put a message in with the plastic surgeon that would be performing my DIEP Flap to see if there was any way that he could meet with me prior to surgery.
He had a cancellation and I got to meet him on Monday! I am so glad because I loved him and he answered ALL of my questions, put me at east, and I now know that I have made the right decision for me.
My breast surgeon will perform the mastectomy, then the plastic surgeon will put two tissue expanders in and fill them with just a little bit of saline.
I will go back in two weeks for additional saline. When my breast are expanded to the size that my belly fat can fill, then we will schedule the final surgery. On Monday’s visit when the plastic surgeon examined my breast and my belly, he told me that I had the perfect tummy to perform this surgery. He told me that my new breast would be significantly smaller than what I have now, and because I am currently a DD, I was fine with that. He also told me not to lose any weight. No doctor has ever told me NOT to lose weight, so I had a moment. Yes, I have completely kept my sense of humor. He also assured me that I would be very pleased with my tummy tuck!
It’s going to be a long road ahead, but I am going into tomorrow feeling very strong mentally and confident with my team of doctors and nurses.
I’ve known I had cancer for several weeks now and it has been a bit strange to just go on with life knowing that nothing could be done about it until surgery tomorrow, but I feel so relieved that tomorrow is finally here so they can remove the cancer and I can begin the process of reconstruction.
I won’t know until after surgery if I need any chemo or radiation.
Thanks so much for sticking with me through these last several weeks. I miss my regular blogging routine where I tell what awesome food I ate and if I made it to Yoga or got my walk in.
Those days will be back and I’ll be ready for them when they are.
Thank you to all of my family and friends for your support. The text and calls have reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a great family and such great friends.
I have been introduced or reconnected with several women these last few weeks that have had breast cancer and I can not begin to describe how good these women have made me feel. Thank you to all of you that have reached out.
I also want to thank the volunteers at The Healing Chair.
My electric lift chair was delivered on Saturday! I am told that sleeping in this chair for the first two weeks post surgery will bring me great comfort and that I will likely want to hang on to the chair for about 4 weeks.
These lovely ladies also brought me a blanket to keep, a gorgeous Kendra Scott necklace, a shirt for post surgery and a journal to write in for the next recipient of the chair.
I love it all……
I’m sure I’m leaving out something, but Tess is making me pancakes right now and I want to go enjoy them with her. It’s hard to write a blog post and not include a food pic!!
If you are going through breast cancer, I hope that we can bring each other some comfort. I’ve always felt comfort from others going through similar struggles.
A friend of mine just dropped off some beautiful flowers and this sign. I love it!
Today is the perfect day to have a good day. My Tess is here and I’m ready to move forward.
Tess will be doing “Guest Post” this week with updates. You get to meet Tess!
“love the life you live, live the life you love”