I’m sorry I haven’t updated sooner. Things got pretty wild very quickly after my last post. I had a stereotactic biopsy on both breasts. The following Tuesday we got the results back, I had widespread, high grade ductal carcinoma in situ all over my right breast. The microcalcifications on the left side were benign.
I had my first appointment with my oncologist the next day. She reviewed her findings and said that because I had an aggressive form of DCIS and because of my age (37), she recommended a mastectomy of the right breast. It was up to me if I wanted to keep my left breast, but she said my risk of recurrence on the other side was about 1/2 to 1% per year of life…meaning if I lived for 40 more years I had up to a 40% chance of recurrence on the left side. That made my decision pretty clear. I had to take them both off.
None of this was a surprise to me, after reading what I had online, but hearing it out loud was difficult. I was then referred to a plastic surgeon to decide on what sort of reconstruction I wanted. I had that appointment on my 38th birthday. Happy birthday to me. We decided on DIEP Flap reconstruction, which takes my belly fat and uses it to rebuild the breast, making a very natural looking and feeling breast and also giving a tummy tuck at the same time. It is a complicated surgery and my plastic surgeon also said that if my blood vessels didn’t match up then he would have to change to a different type of Flap surgery, called pedicled TRAM flap. With that one he would use my ab muscles to rebuild my breasts.
From there things moved very quickly. My plastic surgeon was taking a vacation at the end of June so I had to choose between having my surgery within the next 2 weeks or waiting until he got back. Given that waiting has never been my strong suit and it seemed easier to make arrangements for the kids in the summer, we went with the earlier option and my surgery was scheduled for June 15. A little over a month from mammogram to bilateral mastectomy.
And so here we are….3 weeks and 1 day since my surgery. He did end up having to do the pedicled TRAM flap surgery. The recovery is long, but my husband, my mom, my family and my friends have been BEYOND amazing. My children were sent on lots of adventures with other people so I could rest and heal.
I went through a period right before my surgery of deep, DEEP anger about having to lose my breasts. But when my oncologist called me 4 days after my surgery and told me that they confirmed the DCIS was non-invasive, that my lymph nodes were clear and it hadn’t spread, that I didn’t need chemo, radiation or any further treatment at all….that I was CANCER FREE……that all dissipated. One battle to win my war. Truly an amazing gift.
Tonight I am sitting on my electric recliner. It has been my home since I got back from the hospital. I sleep here now, laying back fully is still uncomfortable. Today was the first day I spent all day with all of my boys. We went to my parents house and I rested there while my boys played, brought me water, showered me with kisses and love. I felt so damn lucky. I know why I took off my breasts. I did it for them, for my husband, for my family and friends and, yes, for me. So that I get to have many, MANY more of these days, weeks and years ahead.
I feel like I have connected with my husband and my boys in new ways that I cannot even describe. My husband has been the most amazing caretaker, my boys have shown such tenderness and empathy. I have learned so much about them, I’m learning new things about myself. I still have a psychological journey to take. Physically I’m healing but the mental piece of this is muddy and cloudy for me right now. But I’m aware and working on it bit by bit. The biggest thing is I am HERE. I am getting stronger every single day. I will put up some more detailed posts on my journey in a special section here, but I have seen some of you guys checking back here to see what happened so I wanted to give you the update. It’s not the update I wanted to give, but I’m through the worst and have only positive things to look forward to.
Thank you for your support.