Bilateral mastectomy with sentinel lymph node dissection and possible axiliary tail dissection with reconstruction.
That is the name of the surgery I will be having tomorrow morning (8/11) at 11:15. In non-medical terms it means I will be having both breasts removed, during surgery the Doctors will remove and biopsy the primary lymph nodes, there’s a possibility of removing more lymph nodes but that will be determined during surgery. The plastic surgeon will also begin reconstruction, this process will take a few months to be finish.
I am as ready as I can be for this surgery. This is what I had decided to do in March and I haven’t really had any doubts about whether this was the best option for me, it is. Removing the breast that has the cancer is kind of a no brainer for me, since I have two confirmed tumors and a possible third (which was not biopsied because I planned to do a mastectomy) even if a Doctor would recommend a lumpectomy there would be very little breast tissue left. Most Doctors that I have spoken with recommend a mastectomy because of the multiple locations and that the locations are in different quadrants of the breast (they view the breast as a pie divided into quarters, the tumors are in different quarters). Removing the unaffected breast isn’t really necessary from a medical standpoint, the statistics say it is very unlikely that the cancer would move to the other breast in the case of recurrence. So while I am only changing my chance of recurrence by 1-2% I still feel that 1-2% and some peace of mind is worth the extra recovery time. And to be honest I like symmetry and let’s face it a single mastectomy with reconstruction would not be symmetrical.
This is clearly a deeply personal and difficult decision. Breasts are a source of cultural controversy and over-sexualization in our world today, whether it’s talk of public breast-feeding or the exploitation of women it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day this appendage can nourish my children and attempt to kill me. 😉 All joking aside, this is not a completely simple choice, though in some ways it was for me, I have spent many hours working through this choice. For the many women that face breast cancer each day this choice looks different and there is no “right” decision, there’s also no “right” way to come to a decision.
So as we stare down the final hours before surgery I have complete peace in my choice, in my Doctors (seriously, they are great!), and in this time. I know that recovery will take time and effort and will bring pain, but nothing in life is easy and the plan is for this to bring me many more years of life so it’s worth the work. If you pray, please join with us tomorrow and know that the support, care and love we have felt is simply overwhelming. Thank you all for loving us.
This verse was shared with me and it has carried me through much of this time:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Love, Hope, and Laughter!!