Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Door Number One? Or Door Number Two?

Radiation Therapy consult today at the cancer center. And so finally everything is clear. As mud. Each time I try to sit down to blog, I start going off on a tangent. If it takes several consults to understand this stuff, how could I possibly bottom line it here?

The primary conversation here at Carbon manor is lumpectomy vs. full mastectomy. It’s probably just a distraction from larger fears, but there you have it.

Initially, I was thinking “get them off me yesterday!” but now I’m less certain.

It's true that if I keep my breasts, I’m faced with MRIs every year for the rest of my life. But there is actually no danger in an MRI. My breasts are dense and nearly impossible to read with a physical exam plus mammogram but a MRI with ultrasound is really effective. Plus now I have a baseline. I might even be able to skip the mammograms since they don’t work.

But what are the chances of developing a new breast cancer? Well, because they’ve determined my cancer is estrogen/progesterone fueled, it is pretty ‘good’. Part of my treatment will be to trigger menopause and shut down this rattletrap reproductive system that had nothing better to do than manufacture fibroids on my uterus and gnarly buggers in my breasts and make me a big crank once a month. With that treatment alone I’m already reducing the chance that another one will pop up. So that’s a mark in favor of keeping them.

From what I can discern, you have a mastectomy for two main reasons. Either you have multiple tumors and it’s just easier to take the whole thing. Or you are attempting to prevent future cancers and the anxiety/hassle that comes with it. A mastectomy doesn’t really protect me from the cancer I have now. It’s the lump removal, chemo and radiation that kills the current cancer. When they take a breast, they can’t get every single breast cell and in rare situations, it can return in the form of a rash or bump. Cancer's a real joker.

Mixed up in all this are vanity and gender concerns plus a plethora of pain fears—subconscious issues thrust to the forefront usually at oh, say, 2:15 a.m.. It's already changing me. Rapidly. When I come through this, I will no longer be who I was just a month ago. And I hope, as when Cam and Mads came into my life, it makes me a better person.

So today, I’m thinking I might try to live with the sword of Damocles above my head, as we all do, mine’s just shaped like boobs.

Tomorrow, I’ll be one step closer to a decision. An ultrasound to rule out multiple tumors.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michele, I have always known that you are a very wise strong young lady and I am very proud of the women you are. I am very proud to call you my daughter-in-law
r

Michele Harris said...

Thanks Rita. You rock and ya know it!

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed both by your strength through this and your large vocabulary. You will do great Mich! I'm proud to call you my friend in design and life. - Todd