And so I began the journey. My Gynecologist urged me to have a Prophylactic Double Mastectomy!
He asked me what I would do If I was diagnosed with Breast cancer, and I told him I would have the surgery without question! To which he replied, then the question becomes why wait?
Why wait, yes that is indeed the question, but it has taken me 4 years of monitoring to figure out the answer.
I am not the kind of person that jumps into something quickly.
I have to turn all the stones over so to speak. Think, research, make a plan. Get my head around my decision.
Some woman come to the surgery decision very quickly and are confident in their choice. I unfortunately am not that woman. I am rather envious of them actually. I am not much about these boobs. They have never looked right as they hang straight down since they arrived on my body. According to my plastic surgeon, it is a hereditary thing. That explains why they look like my Nana's breast LOL! I can remember being fourteen years old in the locker room watching some of my classmates running around the locker room changing and showering. I didn't look anything like them! Needless to say I never showered at gym!
So I went and spoke to a Breast Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon to gather information. Wow, so many terms, and plans. They all knew what they were doing, they do it everyday! I was completely lost in the cloudiness of it all! So I made the decision to stop, wait and try to adjust to the whole idea. I looked at picture after picture. Read articles, joined a list on Facebook which I highly recommend and found the FORCE group (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered).
I couldn't speak about the idea of having my breast removed without tears rolling down my face. I now would have a Breast MRI once a year alternating with the Mammogram I have been getting once a year since my thirties.
My mind swelled with so many thoughts! I was 55 years old, type 2 diabetes,high cholesterol, stroke risk (I have had a TIA) and a Papillary Thyroid cancer survivor of ten years! Part of me thought I had already done battle with cancer and to be honest, I didn't know if I had the strength to fight again either prophetically or by diagnose. Cancer is a tough opponent! I have never felt as if I kicked cancers ass as some woman, I simply am grateful that cancer didn't kick mine.
Do I just have the Mastectomy without reconstruction? I am not over joyed with the girls but I honestly do not think having nothing is right for me either. Is that crazy, I am now 58 years old! What does it matter at this point! Or do I have reconstruction? Months of work, more surgery and unknown possible complications.
So for 4 years I have pondered all of this on and off, up and down.
I turned 58 years old this past March. My Mom died at age 59. My mind had sudden clarity. I picked up the phone and called my primary care manager for a referral to the Breast Surgeon. For the first time the tears did not flow down my cheeks. When I finished the phone call, I called the Plastic Surgeons office. I could hear the voice in my head saying "we're doing this".
I now have a surgery date for June 20, 2018. I wish I could tell you that I am completely settled in what I am planning to do. I am not! I am settled with the choice to lessen my percentage risk drastically. I am settled with the fact that I have choices, that I will not have to loose lymph nodes as I have already lost 90 lymph nodes out of the 200 we have in our neck with my modified neck dissection from the Thyroid cancer, or have chemotherapy or radiation. My Mom suffered so with Lymphedema. These are definite pluses!
It is May 26th and I am calm at times and overwhelmed at other times. Some days I work feverishly preparing list and finishing things that need to be done before I am down and can't do them for quite a while.
I have a kennel so there are dogs to groom, a garden, flowers, bills, groceries, 7 acres of grounds to maintain, laundry and a house. I am a very busy girl and that is how I like it! God bless my husband as a lot of this is going to fall on him until I recover.
Other days I seemed to be crippled by thoughts that seem to zap my energy and make me unable to focus on the tasks I need to accomplish. I am holding my breath for June 1st! For some crazy reason I feel like that starts the official countdown as I will be in the month of my surgery date and each passing day will bring me closer to it! I am dreading the ride to the hospital that morning. Having had three neck surgeries and a hysterectomy, I know how anxious the ride will be for me. I am grateful to have support but in the end, it is me that roles into that operating room. And the tears are now flowing!
So I plan to write & video some along the way. I am so grateful to other woman that documented their journey on You Tube. They were so brave and their openness was so helpful to me. I did not find anyone in my age bracket that had documented so thought maybe I can fill that void.
May 31, 2018
It has been a rough couple of days! My anxiety did not wait until June 1st like I had assumed it would. Someone on the Facebook list I am on asked if anyone had taken a second gene test to be sure of the results. I thought about that and it played on my mind a bit so I decided I would have a second one done with a different company. The results came in yesterday and I had a talk with their genetic counselor. Yes. my results were the same, BRCA2 positive. We went over information that I already had and at the end of the conversation I said "Let me ask the big question", what are are my percentage risks at this point. She put some information in a computer program and the results were that at age 58-85 I had a 38 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Hmmm that is better than what I was told 4 years ago (85-87%). Some how it has shaken me up quite a bit and caused me to be a bit non functional for the last two days. My mind has gone in a million directions. Should I wait and just keep monitoring? Maybe I should just have the surgery without an reconstruction and save myself from all that is involved with that. I am a realistic personality and I can over think things in my quest for making clear decisions. I know it is going to take me a little bit to readjust.