September 10, 2007

After a wonderful weekend at the coast, Brian and I got home Sunday afternoon, and after greeting a very happy-to-see-us dog, got back into the routine (the cats were pretty ho-hum about our return).

Today, the doctor contacted me with both bad and good news. The bad news is that the additional mass in my left breast is cancer; the good news is that the mass in the right breast is not. This means that I will definitely have to have a mastectomy on the left, because of the positioning of the cancerous lumps; as well as the impracticality of doing two lumpectomies as far apart as these two masses are, being a multi-focal cancer, it is probably more aggressive and that makes it more likely that I could expect a recurrence were we to do lumpectomies. The doctor still wants to do an excisional biopsy of the mass on the right, but unless I choose to go the route of having a prophylactic mastectomy (removing the breast as a preventative measure), it would be minor surgery; either it or the prophylactic mastectomy will be done at the same time as the left-breast mastectomy.

I asked the surgeon about getting a test done to see if I carry the breast cancer genetic markers, as it would be helpful to know in making a decision about what to do on my right breast – because of my family history, it seems like a good possibility that I have at least one. Apparently it takes 4 – 6 weeks to get the results back, and since we’re hoping to have my surgery scheduled for no later than September 28, I will either have to make the decision to proceed on the bilateral surgery without that information, or plan another surgery if the results come back positive. Without one of the markers, I have a 20% chance of developing cancer in the remaining breast, but if I do have one or more, the chance shoots up to 80%. I’m leaning toward the bilateral mastectomy option, at least in part because I don’t want to have to go through this again. There are so many things I want to do, places I want to visit, and especially, people I want to spend time with – why waste part of my life by having to go through cancer and its attendant rigors a second time? Brian and I will discuss it with the surgeon when we meet this Thursday – hopefully she’ll be able to add some clarity to the decision-making process.

In the meantime, my mission (with no choice but to accept it ;-} ), is to set up appointments to meet with plastic surgeons and decide who I want to do the reconstruction (I’m definitely planning on having a permanent installation – I don’t want to have to look for body parts when I get dressed in the morning!) . Then it is just a matter of finding a time when the two surgeons’ schedules coincide to do the surgery.

I’m relieved to finally be able to move ahead on this, although it’s helped me with learning to be more patient – a good thing, but something I’d rather have acquired through, say, my knitting or my quilting!



September 7, 2007

Hi y’all –

So Tuesday and yesterday I had my MRI-guided biopsies, and discovered that I’m a real wimp when it comes to the sedative they give – the nurse said it has a half-life of 6-8 hours, but it was well over 24 hours before I felt back to normal. Unfortunately, I seem to have developed a tolerance for the local anaesthetic – fortunately, I have a high tolerance for pain, so it wasn’t too bad.

For those who were as confused as I was about how they do an MRI-guided biopsy, it involves taking images with the patient in the coil, moving the patient out, sticking things into the patient, moving the patient back into the coil to make sure the things are positioned properly and moving the patient back out of the coil (repeat this step as necessary), and sticking more things into the patient in order to take things out of the patient. Fortunately, I only have vague memories of all the moving and poking – I really only noticed things if they spoke directly to me (they always put a hand on my arm when they spoke to me – Brian suggested that perhaps they were communicating via bone conduction).

The really weird part is that after they got me out of the machine and moved into another room where they bandaged me up and gave me all the follow-up care instructions, I can remember all of that – every word. I remember Brian stopping at the vet’s to pick up pills for April before we went home. I remember getting out of Brian’s car, trying to avoid the mirror on *my* car because it was parked too close. After that, I only know that I made it upstairs onto the bed because that’s where I found myself this morning. I pretty much slept without moving for 14 hours straight – I briefly surfaced at 5:00 a.m., but didn’t notice that I was still in my clothes.

The results from the first biopsy should be available today, but my doctor isn’t, so I won’t know anything until next week. Since it won’t really change anything except how extensive the surgery will have to be, and whether I have chemotherapy before or after the surgery, I’m not stressing (at least, not so far – maybe there’s more Xanax left in my system than I think!).

We’re heading off to Newport for a couple nights in celebration of Brian’s birthday (Thanks, Steve & Ellen, for the use of your place). Robin doesn’t get to go, but he does get to stay with his good friend Jasmine (Thanks, Sharon & Gary). The cats are going to enjoy the peace and quiet – after our house guest Augie the Dorkie (that’s half-Dachshund, half-Yorkie) left the other day, they were thinking that Robin (too big to get into their hidey-holes) was looking pretty good, but then they started remembering that he’s still a dog, and thinking that he really doesn’t need to check their ID every time they walk through the room.

Anyway, I’ll post an update next week as soon as I have results. Take care,


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