(First sent out to via email, May 17th, 2011)
I knew it was coming but it doesn’t mean it was easier to hear the news. I think I was more mentally prepared to receive this news than all the other crappy news I was getting for the last couple of months.
First of all, they cancelled the MRI Biopsy, which left me a little anxious the whole weekend, even though I was relieved not to have several needles penetrating into my breast, a third time. The last I heard the “suspicious cells” in one of my lymph nodes was non malignant. The day after I was told, the non malignant cells in the lymph nodes was not indicative to be the same with the other “suspicious cells” surrounding another quadrant of my breast. New cancer cells are forming which means a lumpectomy is not feasible, at this point.
It was really difficult to come to terms with this but I knew (KNOW) to move beyond this I had to do a lot of research on reconstructive breast surgery. And if you know me well enough, you would know how difficult it is for me to sit through images of scarred breasts and surgical procedures. There was a reason, after all, why I couldn’t continue watching Nip/Tuck or certain parts of Grey’s Anatomy without getting squirmish! Jesus Christ, I’m the girl who nearly fainted when my ex-boss asked me for SEVERAL band-aids and to know where the first aid kit was kept in the office. I CANNOT BE the one who has to have any surgical procedure done… I have a hard time wrapping my thoughts around this, that I have no choice.
For a couple of weeks, I researched the different reconstructive methods and chose the one I wanted. I wanted the natural reconstruction opposed to saline or silicone implants, so I would never have to update and go through surgery again. I wanted the reconstruction to be done the same day as the mastectomy, so I wouldn’t have to deal psychologically, with having only one breast, for any period of time. The natural method requires a “Tram flap” procedure where they make an incision on my tummy and take fat from it, to recreate a breast using my fat tissue. My friend, Stephen pointed out, “Ha, you don’t have enough fat on your stomach for your boob!” which almost made me cry, but I was hopeful and I ate half his pizza, to increase my tummy mass. Adrian and Winslow were more positive and pointed out, “What?!! You get a tummy tuck and a boob job? FOR FREE?!!” and then offered their tummy fat to use instead of using my own. Actually, a lot of you have been very supportive with regards to letting me know your tummy fat is available to me for a new breast. THANKS, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s done.
However, showing up Monday morning for my appointment with my breast surgeon and having Lisa Hems (thanks, for remembering to look at my questions) ask all the questions I couldn’t remember to ask, I knew my plans were very different from my surgeon, Dr. Cil’s plans. We even sought out a second opinion from a Dr. Escallon from Sinai but his diagnosis was the same and he assured me I was in good hands with Dr. Cil. They still want to treat my cancer aggressively, because I’m relatively young. I still don’t get this, just because they think I am strong enough to survive chemo that’s why I should do it? Chemo is still on the table, and radiation is still a maybe until they send the tumor to Pathology for testing. And there will definitely not be any same day reconstruction surgery because these treatments are still hanging over my head.
The final blow was when I met with the Plastic Surgeon Nurse, Helen Mark (I know! She’s a Mark too but Caucasian) and she was going through the different reconstruction options. I told her I preferred the natural “Tram-flap” procedure and she pointed out she didn’t think I had enough fat required for the procedure. And just when I thought I have NO choices in any of these decisions (and I don’t) Helen asks me what size bra do you wear, I tell her 32D cup. She tells me, “The largest we have is a C cup.” So, why bother asking me what I wear?
I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the surgical team, involved in my treatment. Despite being angry and irritated by all these “non-choices” given to me, my doctors, nurses, hospital staff at WCH has been stellar with their compassion, knowledge and giving me as much time as I need, for each and every visit I have with them. I trust them completely. I feel things will be fine. And I will get through this but they are giving me really shitty choices, if any, to get through this.
What’s next? Nurse Helen has set up, an appointment, for me to meet with a plastic surgeon. I looked him up on http://www.ratemds.com. He has great reviews, I’m pretty sure I’m in capable hands, and he’s suppose to be cute, to boot, according to one reviewer. I will see what he has to say and not research this bit anymore to avoid any more disappointment. And tomorrow, I will call to finally book a surgery date to begin cleaning out this cancer.
Once again, I can’t thank you all enough with your encouraging words and continuing support to keep my spirits high or to make me laugh. This first part was really tough but the next part is really scary for me… I was writing to a new friend/supporter today, who’s mom is going through chemo, which I will share with you now, “Cancer, eh?!! I HATE IT but it has also shown me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such fabulous people. It has assured me I made all the right decisions about the people in my life.”