So, blogging is new to me, but since I will need a quick and easy way to keep everyone "abreast" (thank you David McMurray!) of what's going on with me as I undergo my second round of treatments for breast cancer, I decided to create one at the suggestion of one of my friends, Andrew Valls.
Okay, for those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed on October 3, 2007, with a second and different cancer in the right breast. Five years ago, from August 2002 to March 2003, I underwent treatments for a 2.0 cm infiltrating lobular carcinoma. The treatments included a lumpectomy with sentinel node dissection, four treatments of adriamycin and cytoxan, and 6 1/2 weeks of radiation. Since the tumor was estrogen-positive, I started taking tamoxifen in April 2003 and just finished taking it on October 10.
This time around, I have a very small (2-3mm) infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I have decided to go with bilateral mastectomy (which decreases my overal risk of recurrence from 20% to 1-2%) followed by reconstruction. So far, I know that it is estrogen positive as well and since I'm premenopausal and tamoxifen (which tends to work with premenopausal women) did not work, I may have to either surgically or chemically induce menopause by taking out my ovaries or stopping them from working with monthly injections. But that's a decision to make later.
For reconstruction, I will go with implants, although I won't need to decide on saline or silione just yet. Even if I wanted to do a TRAM flap (i.e., use my own tummy tissue and muscle), I only have enough tummy tissue for one breast! So, I'd need an implant anyway. Implants have a shorter surgery time and a shorter recovery time. And, apparently, they will be able to use the nipple from the non-cancerous breast to help reconstruct the nipple on the right side. Ah, the things you don't know.
Two women at the support group last night were kind and generous enough to show me what mastectomy and reconstruction look like -thank you ladies! It's helping to demystify the whole process and what to expect.
We're waiting to see whether or not I need to do chemo. So far, the chest x-ray is normal and I am now waiting for the results of the PET scan.
Overall, I'm doing okay and am planning to have a "Boob Ball" on November 3, in order to say good-bye to the troublesome cancer appendages and also to celebrate life and laughter. My only requirement for guests is that they need to bring a boob joke, which I will put into a notebook that I can enjoy after surgery. Of course, there are times when I feel sad or lonely or tired or stressed out, but my friends and family and colleagues have been great - I just need to make a phone call and I feel a lot better! Scott (my boyfriend) and my family, especially, have been great. When Scott is able, he's here with me and has attended a couple of consultations with doctors. He's also helping me as I work through feelings and consider treatment options. Humor helps tremendously!
So, anyway, save the date! For those of you in town, the "Boob Ball" is November 3, probably around 6 or 7pm. And, remember your boob jokes!! : )
Dee (or Deanna or Dede)
Monday, October 15, 2007