Saturday, January 17, 2015
Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today: 3.67 miles; Running Total: 140.06 miles)
Day 190 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.
You might be wondering why I’m only having a single mastectomy vs. a double vs. just having tumors removed. I’ve received this question more than once, so let me address it.
Just having the tumors removed – called a lumpectomy – isn’t really an option for me.
In addition to the two tumors in my right breast there is also 10 cm of calcified cancer in my milk ducts. My surgeon said she could try to remove the tumors and the calcification, but the surgery would leave me with a ‘severely disfigured’ (aka, ‘horribly mangled’) breast. If I chose the lumpectomy route, she also had concerns about being able to get all of the cancer.
My surgeon said, “A mastectomy is really your only option.”
I was convinced.
Note: When a surgeon says that, you should listen.
I’ve been asked if I’m going to have the other breast removed, too. The answer is no and here’s why.
Even though there is no evidence of cancer in my left breast having a double mastectomy might seem like the ‘safer’ option. I mean, the right one went rogue, so the left one is guilty by association, yeah?
But here’s the thing: The cancer in my right breast has already spread to the lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes run throughout your body. This means cancer cells could have already traveled anywhere in my body. They’re not just limited to the other breast.
So I stand as good a chance of the cancer coming back in my liver or kidneys or colon or wherever as I do of having it come back in my remaining breast.
So even though there’s no evidence of disease in my left breast, I sometimes wonder if a double mastectomy would make this transition easier. Maybe it would make the girls more symmetrical. And it’s true, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting cancer in the other breast because there wouldn’t be any breast tissue left.
But then I think of the loss of sensation and remember that removing my healthy left breast would do as much good as removing a random section of colon. Neither lowers my risk of the cancer coming back.
A single mastectomy is as much a personal choice as it is my doctor’s recommendation. My surgeon said I don’t need a double mastectomy and I trust her judgment.
So that’s why I’m having a single mastectomy. Removing the known cancer.
And praying like hell that it never ever comes back.
Today’s silver lining: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m so grateful I live in Houston, home to one of the premier cancer centers in the world. No one wants to have cancer, but at least I have internationally recognized experts in my back yard.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!
Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share? Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.