Alright, it’s been a rough week, and that last post was a bit of a downer. I can’t wait until I’m feeing better and can use words like, “Jubilant!” and “Triumphant!” or even better, not have to write about this anymore. At all.
But what are the ups without the downs, I guess.
Short story is I’m 10 weeks in (15 counting all that fertility business and all around horror) and it’s taking a toll. What did I think, it’d get easier? (Yes.)
All that energy I had in the beginning is sapped, all that kumbaya positivity has run thin, and all those side effects I said I wasn’t having are cropping up more and more.
The good news is there are only two treatments left, and then I’m done this round and can focus on surgery. Which, by the way, I’ve done a 180 after having heart palpitations over chopping both my sweater puppies off and never having real nipples again and being permanently numb from my clavicle to my rib cage.
I started reading up on mastectomies, crying out to Mike, “Oh my God, did you know you lose all feeling in your chest sometimes?”
A couple minutes later, I’d blurt out, "Did you know I’m going to be like, really uncoordinated and I won’t be able to pick up, like a bottle of milk or whatever for like four weeks?”
And bless his heart he looked at me and said patiently, “Um, yeah. Did you not hear the doctor when she explained that to you? And the plastic surgeon, too?"
“No!” I wailed. Looks like I blocked all of that out. When we spoke of these things with the doctors, I’d been just diagnosed, I was convinced I was going to die, and the only way out of that conundrum--in my panicked head--was to just rid myself of these problem boobies once and for all.
I ignored the fact that the outcomes are the same if I get the less invasive lumpectomy. I ignored the fact that it would be a better cosmetic result and I’d be laid out for weeks fewer and that keeping my beloved nips meant more to me than I thought.
So, just last week, I came to this conclusion: I wanted to get the less invasive surgery.A surge of relief whooshed out of me.
My oncologist was on board. “This makes sense," he said. "That’s what neoadjuvent chemo [treatment before surgery] is for, to increase your surgical options by shrinking the tumor. I think this is a good choice. Your survival outcomes are the same either way, with either surgery. We’ll give Laura [the surgeon] a call and let her know.”
I was ecstatic; I felt my gut was really telling me something here; I had a goddamn EPIPHANY!
And then…I spoke to Laura the surgeon, and she reminded me of just one, tiny, little detail.
Back in April, there was a spot on the MRI displaced from the primary tumor. (If you’re looking at my boob like a clock, the primary tumor, the lump, is at 9 o’clock. This other spot was at 12 o’clock.)
This is a problem.
Because I was so adamant about getting a bilateral mastectomy, we didn’t biopsy this satellite spot before treatment started to see if it was cancer, because I was getting rid of the whole breast anyway.
Now, everything will come down to an additional MRI. If that spot is still there (at 12 o’clock), lumpectomy will be an option, because that indicates it was just a weird non-cancerous spot.
But if the spot isn’t there, that means it was cancer. That means the chemo worked on it. Great! Right? No. That means they’d have to go in, carve THAT area out, along with the shrunken tumor at 9 o'clock. Picture an apple with two bites taken out of it on opposite sides, rather than one bite. Or picture a divot in two places, rather than one, and the 12 o’clock divot can’t really be disguised by clothes or padded bras or whatever, it'll just be this freakish sunken spot.
Not to mention, this second potentially cancerous spot suggests that the tumor was not isolated at all; that the whole breast could be compromised. In that case, they'll need to lop off the whole thing.
So, we will see what comes of this MRI on the 10th. I suppose if I need the mastectomy, if it’s medically necessary, then fine. I’ll do it. But, oddly, I’m praying we see that spot, and that I don’t.