14
Sep
07

September 13, 2007

There’s always more to learn, but I think we pretty much know what’s necessary after our meeting with the surgeon this afternoon.

What we discussed with her today basically solidified my decision – I had hoped that she would have something that would make the choice of unilateral or bilateral mastectomy more clear, and she definitely did.

The mass on the right is something called “papillomatosis”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term papilloma, that is the Latin word for “wart”. Remember the huge wart on the bottom of my foot that I had surgically removed last year, and it grew back two months later? Well, about the same time that I received the cancer diagnosis in July, I noticed that it was getting smaller, and now it’s completely gone. Guess we know what happened to it . . .

Seriously, it is either a type of wart, or what they call “ductal hyperplasia”, which means that there is an unusual proliferation of cells within a duct in the breast. There are different types, some of which may be cancerous or pre-cancerous, but most are benign. However, the surgeon told me that while it isn’t known if papillomatosis can become cancer, it is not unusual to find the two in conjunction. This can mean that there’s something weird going on with the cells in an area, and some of it develops into the papillomas or some type of ductal hyperplasia, and some of it develops into cancer; or it could mean that there is some more sinister connection between the two. Upon doing some research on-line, the general consensus seems to be summed up best in the following quote:

“The outcome is expected to be excellent for patients with solitary tumors. Patients with multiple papillomas or who develop them at an early age may have an increased risk of developing cancer, particularly if they have a family history of cancer or there are abnormal cells in the biopsy.”

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001238.htm

(BTW, if you decide to google “papillomatosis”, be very, *very* careful with what links you select. For some reason, it appears that nasty hackers think anyone who is looking into that term is fair game to hijack their system or plant spyware or a virus – I nearly got nailed on a link that looked like it was going to a legitimate website, but turned out to be an attempt to get me to download a worm. Google ductal hyperplasia or papilloma, instead.)

So my decision is to follow my gut feel, which was tending towards the bilateral mastectomy. While it is currently a solitary tumor, between the cancer on the left and my (comparative) youth and family history, I’m a cancer just waiting to happen if I leave it (which definitely is worse than being a wart waiting to happen – been there, done that, bought the crutches ;-} ).

Next on the hit parade is my initial meeting with the plastic surgeon – it is currently scheduled for the 20th, although the scheduler was going to put my name down on a cancellation list. His scheduler will talk to my surgeon’s scheduler, and we’ll get the actual date of the surgery set – we’re currently targeting 9/28, although I suppose there is a very small chance that it could be as early as the 21st if the plastic surgeon sees me before the 20th.

In the mean time, I am taking a beading class to create a “Day of the Dead” (cue Twilight Zone music!) necklace. I plan to memorialize Mom – unfortunately, I don’t have a lock of her hair, although there is one floating around out there somewhere, but I’ve got a few things that I think I’ll be able to incorporate. I’ll post a photo of it when I finish.

Cheers!

Julie

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