I was discussing breast cancer with BringOnTheBoobz and I thought, while I mentioned DIEP and the ongoing reconstruction, I never spoke of how this entire journey began, so here it is.
In December 2014, I went for my routine pap and mammogram. The mammogram came back needing further evaluation. I was told they needed to expand the views of one area because I have/had dense breasts. I went and then needed an ultrasound, like I have needed for years. I tried to tell the new tech that Day One, and she blew me off. I had it done December 19th. Well, this time, instead of going home, I was asked to come to the consult room. Oh oh. Not good. I work in the medical field, so I know this means there is a problem. I am cornered in this room, forgot to ask the hubster to come in, and I am told I need a biopsy of this area that has always been an issue on mammograms. I ask them to do it right there. They can't, obviously. In fact, they cannot get me in until January 6, 2015. Great. Another deductible. I go through Christmas wondering if the "exponential explosion of micro-calcifications in the right breast" are the waste product of cyst activity (which I have had for years) or, if they are the waste products of ductal carcinoma. Yes, I research everything.
January 6, 2015 rolled around and I had the biopsy. Even with deadening agents, it hurt. Badly. Especially near the surface of the skin. I waited for what felt like forever for the results, knowing the longer something takes to get back, the more likely there is an issue. Friday, the 9th, at 3:45 PM (funny how we remember stuff like this), my gynecologist called me. Not the nurse, the doctor, herself. I hear, "You have cancer. Blah, blah, blah." She says she has scheduled me for an appointment as soon as she could with this great breast doctor. She apologized and said the soonest she could get was Monday at 8:20 am. Yay! I'm thinking, that was fast! I was numb. I had clients coming in and had to see them. I am not sure I heard anything anyone said for the next 3 hours. I must have faked well. All I could think of is, "I have cancer." I did not hear what kind, how advanced. Nothing. I told my husband. One of my friends kept calling, so I told her. She seemed to get frustrated that I could not remember what kind, and that I did not ask about staging. Honestly, I did not think to ask about staging and I was so stunned to hear my name and cancer put together that I didn't hear what kind of breast cancer.
That Monday, the hubster and I hear I have Lobular Carcinoma in situ. If it is one breast, it is in the other. Also, this is a sneaky cancer that can metastasize to the liver and lungs before caught. Based on my family history, I had an 80% chance of it becoming invasive. I had 2 choices. One was to watch and see with a mammogram every 6 months. The other was to have a bi-lateral mastectomy, which would take my risk down to 3%. This was a no-brainer. We went for the bi-lateral mastectomy. She said I could meet with the plastic surgeon she liked to work with. They work together in the mastectomy, reconstruction surgeries. I said absolutely. I do not know any plastic surgeons, so why not go with the person she recommended?
I got blood work and chest X-rays. I came back at 1PM and met Dr. Hahm. My husband and I thought I would just get implants. Dr. Hahm told us about DIEP and how much of a better outcome it would be for me. After a detailed discussion, we agreed to a bi-lateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction.
Dr. Beatty, my breast doc, scheduled an MRI for me. It showed 20 different areas of lobular carcinoma and yes, it was in both breasts. This further confirmed the decision to do the mastectomy. It felt like forever, but from diagnosis to surgery was less than a month.
My surgery was set for February 4th. My girlfriends took me out for lunch before surgery day for lunch before surgery day. Surgery was February 4th. I was in for 10 hours. The biopsy of what was removed further confirmed the decision to do the mastectomy and DIEP flap. Nothing was normal. Nothing. I was surprised at how much a mammogram does not see. There was a small area of ductal carcinoma in situ in my left breast, and all sorts of atypical tissue. I wondered how something so small (my breasts) could be so bad? I am so grateful that I had that mammogram and biopsy. I firmly believe that if I had waited, in a year, I would have been facing radiation, or chemo.
I stayed in the hospital Tuesday through Sunday. The hospital was fantastic. I was out of work for 3 weeks. I really underestimated how incapacitated I would be. My husband was amazing, and he did everything for me. I went from 45 minutes of heavy cardio followed by weights to not being able to walk on my own to the bathroom less than 50 feet away.
Tomorrow, I will write up the recovery process and the weird things I noted along the way. If this helps one person to know it does get better, then I feel like my job is done. Happy healing.