Breast Cancer? Me?
Can I answer any of these questions? I guess not... I have breast cancer! Don't know why I got it, how I got it, when I got it...
Going back a few days, this whole thing started with my ob/gyn saying "You are 40 now, it's time for your annual mammogram!". I am pretty good at listening my doctors, keeping things organized, scheduling, so I booked my mammogram immedately for September 1st. After all what can go wrong? I am very healthy... I work as a health coach, I have a wellness blog, I was just featured on a website as a Healthy Role Model...
So I went for my mammogram. If you ever did a mammogram you would know that it's not the most comfortable thing. My technician was so sweet though, we were chatting about our kids while she was trying to squish my not so squishable small breasts in the machine. She goes back to check with the doctor if the images are good enough and came back saying the doctor needs a few more images on different angles. That's ok! Right? Not right. We are done with all the imaging and I am at the doctors office doing ultrasound now because on my left breast he saw a large area with calcification. What IS that?
Breast calcifications are small calcium deposits that develop in a woman's breast tissue. They are very common and are usually benign (noncancerous). In some instances, certain types of breast calcifications may suggest early breast cancer.
Ok so, now what? I need to schedule a Stereotactic Biopsy. Again, what is that? Using a special machine, a needle or sheath is guided to the exact location of the abnormal area. Several samples of breast tissue are taken. They said "Don't worry, it's really simple".
My biopsy was scheduled for September 28th. My husband's brother and his wife was visiting us in Los Angeles that week so they all drop me off. And I should say biopsy wasn't that simple:( After almost 40 minutes and lots of breathing exercises on my side, they took a sample, left me in the room to check the sample they got. They came back and said the sample didn't contain any of the calcification and that they need to do the whole thing all over again. Of course by then, my already low blood pressure was so low that I could barely sit. They told me to lay down and did the whole procedure again on a lying position. Don't even ask me how that was possible.
On September 29th, it was around 3pm while I was getting ready to leave the house to pick up my kids from school, my ob/gyn called! He started explaining me the biopsy results: that it was DCIS, I need to see a surgeon, gave me a few referrals for surgeons and oncologists... This was all so blurry... I listened to him for like 5 minutes since I didn't want to be late to school and I don't think I understood much of what he was saying anyway. I didn't ask any questions... I just didn't know what to say and what to make out of all this. DCIS, breast cancer, pre-cancer, stage 0, surgeon, mastectomy, lumpectomy... I heard some of these terms recently, thanks to Angelina Jolie but what this is all have to do with me? I am healthy after all, right? I feel great... I have energy... I eat good... I work out 4-5 times a week... What's going on? Is this a movie? Dream?
It all became more real when I started seeing surgeons, plastics surgeons... did my MRI. Craziest thing for me is that everybody tells you stuff, gives you a bunch of statistics and then they say it's your decision how to move forward. One thing all surgeons agreed was that I had to do mastectomy on my left breast. What about the right one? There is nothing there... BUT...of course there is higher risk of getting DCIS or invasive breast cancer on the right breast in the future, which means I will be doing mammograms, check ups and live with cancer fear for the rest of my life. And if it recurs, I hope that we will be lucky enough to catch it early on like we did this time. What if we can not?
DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is a non-invasive breast cancer. In DCIS, the abnormal cells are contained in the milk ducts. It is called “in situ” (which means "in place") because the cells have not left the milk ducts to invade nearby breast tissue.
After seeing 3 different surgeons in LA, my husband insisted we go to Houston to Md Anderson for another opinion. After all they are the best and I was lucky to have a friend who knew an oncologist who specialized in breast cancer there. So we spend 4 days in Houston, going thru mammogram and ultrasound again. They did the pathology on my biopsy slides again. And the result? Same thing. Mastectomy on the left breast... and it is up to me to do both or not... If I do both I won't need radiation and some say plastic surgery looks much better, more symmetrical when you do both at the same time.
Ok I made my decision, I will do both and put this all behind. I don't want to do radiation... I don't want to live with cancer in my head for the rest of my life. Get it all out!