Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Options, Options, No Options

I’ve never considered myself as indecisive, but sometimes I get tired of making decisions.  At this point I can honestly say I have never made so many decisions in my life, and that my life depended on, as I have during my breast cancer.  One of the first decisions I had to make was what type of breast surgery was right for me.

You might think this was pretty cut and dry, but that really isn’t the case. Today women have so many more options than in previous years.  There are; Lumpectomy, Partial or Segmental Mastectomy or Quadrantectomy, Total Mastectomy, Modified Radical Mastectomy, and Radical Mastectomy. And that’s not all, there are also Skin Sparing Mastectomy or Nipple Sparing Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.  Even if you do not have cancer in both breasts, you have to decide if you are going to have a bilateral mastectomy or not. Are you BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive?

As I moved from one test to another it was like unwrapping a pretty package, each layer revealed something new.  And with each revelation, I had a tougher decision to make.  I can tell you that I read more, researched more, and prayed more during this time, than any other.  It was really hard

Looking at images of the surgeries was scary, but it brought some hope to me as well.  I knew I would have to have a mastectomy, so I began to research immediate reconstruction. At this point my local surgeon told us I was too young, and as my case was becoming more difficult he felt I needed to go somewhere else for my care.  This was an answer to our prayers. We really wanted a second opinion.  Not because we didn’t like what we were hearing, but because this was serious and we wanted to make sure we were making the right decision.  Through the help of my surgeon and local oncologist I was able to get into the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Here my pretty pink package continued to unwrap.  Really I should have said that if you are diagnosed early on, you have a lot of options available to you. In my case, many of the options, well, weren’t available anymore.  I had to have a bilateral Modified Radical Mastectomy.  I couldn’t have immediate reconstruction because the size of my tumor was too large and I would need radiation.  Not that this was my first choice, but it was the only choice I could make and feel good about.

Here are a few links that share a brief explanation on the various types of breast cancer surgeries:

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