In my hiatus from my blog, I finally took care of something that's been troubling me for months. A lump in my right breast. It's in the opposite breast of the one I've already had two biopsies on. And yes, you read that correctly. It's been troubling me for months. Many months.
I'm sure you're all thinking the same thing. I thought it too.
How on earth can I be at high risk for breast cancer, watch my mother lose her life to this terrible disease and walk around for months not doing anything about this lump in my breast?
I can't honestly answer that. I don't know why. I thought about it constantly but was paralyzed by it.
When my father was doing better, I made a promise to take better care of myself and managing this lump was priority number one.
I switched doctors and am so grateful I did. My new doctor is at the same facility my Mom and aunts' (two of my Mom's sisters also had breast cancer) oncologists, genetic counselor and others involved in their treatment are at. I found myself with a team of doctors ready to do all they could to help me.
I had several mammograms and an ultrasound like I usually do. I received good news that I appear to be okay. You never know for sure until pathology is complete but it looked encouraging.
We then reviewed my family history, personal risk factors, genetic predisposition and so on. On top of the risk factors I already knew about, there were others I didn't realize I had. My risk was even higher than I thought.
We worked with tools provided by various cancer organizations, reviewed the pathology of my previous two biopsies and discussed at length the difficulties in identifying suspicious lumps due to the density of and fibrocystic changes in my breasts. I would require a host of constant screening including MRIs, mammograms and ultrasounds to truly keep an eye on my breasts.
I was referred to a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer to determine a course of action. In the end, it was decided it was in my best interest to complete a prophylactic double mastectomy.
As odd as this sounds, I couldn't be happier. I am scared but I am certain.
I don't know if everyone realizes this or not, but in doing so, I cut my chances of getting breast cancer down to about 3%. It feels so incredibly good to know that I am doing everything I can to eliminate my chances of this awful disease that so mercilessly took my mother's life.
Looking at it now, I feel like my Mom died so I wouldn't have to. I feel like her death has something to do with me living. It led me down a path that I fully believe is not only life changing, but life saving. My Mom is my hero.
I feel good about this decision and am grateful for the team of people I have now.
My next step is to consider reconstruction. I never really thought about reconstruction but after talking to my sister and a friend who has had a mastectomy with reconstruction, I'm a bit more open to it now. I've had one meeting with a plastic surgeon. If I decide to do this, I think I will go the tissue expander with the use of AlloDerm followed by implants route. I'm still not sure, but I'm leaning towards this.
If by chance anyone has any experience with this, I would really love to hear from you. I have found a couple of blogs but any links to something you think might be helpful would be much appreciated.
Thank you for being my friend and allowing me share this with you.
image source: abcnews.go.com