We had a really good meeting today with the team of doctor's that would be administering my care. We went to the University of Colorado Hospital Cancer Center. We met with a medical oncologist who specializes in young women under 40 who get breast cancer. Her name is Dr. Virginia Borges. She seemed really sharp and personable. In addition to Dr. Borges, we also met with the surgical oncologist, plastic surgeon and the radiation oncologist. The whole team, under one roof -- communicating with each other about my case before they came in the room. Communicating. That is key for me. I don't, nor do I want my family to have to, communicate my case over and over again because the doctor's aren't talking to each other, or because they don't work in the same hospital and get too busy to return each others' call. I think this is the team for me.
SO -- at the end of this whirlwind week, here we are. I have to decide the removal process. I was fully prepared to have a double mastectomy -- cut it out, close it up, and it never comes back again, and I get to skip radiation therapy and have to deal with just chemo. (Oh and I get a new "set" out of the deal.) Right?
Wrong. There's no guarantee I get to skip radiation even with a double. There's no guarantee that it won't come back. And the reconstruction process isn't as simple as when you wake up from having implants put in and everything is pretty much perfect. It's much more complex, and takes a lot of time.
So, I think we are going to start with the lumpectomy. How does that saying go, "No need to cut off the leg, because of a broken foot." (Something like that.) I kept trying to make my decision based on how much I could avoid. "If I pick option A, I get to avoid treatment 1 and 2. Or, on the other hand, if I pick option B, I get to avoid treatment 2 and 3." Lessor of two evils. What I think I need to realize is that I can't cut corners with my treatment ... not if I don't want this coming back again. I can't make a decision simply because I want to avoid doing something that might be unpleasant. What's that saying that mom's say all the time -- "I don't care if you don't want to, you have to." (Usually always followed by "Because I said so!") I may not want radiation, or even chemo for that matter, but it looks like it's something I'm going to have to face.
Dr. Borges said that I can always choose to do the mastectomies down the line, if that's what I want. But at least, starting this way, it gives them an opportunity to look at the tumor and prepare a treatment plan and it gives me time, us time, to think over the mastectomy option. By choosing the lumpectomy, I will have more follow up treatments than a mastectomy, and more anxiety if another lump appears. More ultrasounds, mammograms, biopsies, anxiety ... anxiety ... anxiety. And I have so many more years to live - so I have to think about how long I'm willing to tolerate that much anxiety.
We'll see how things go. Surgical scheduling will put my appointment roughly 2 to 3 weeks from now, just because of their schedule. I just have to call them and confirm my decision. After that, a couple weeks to heal, 12 weeks of chemo, and probably 6-12 weeks of radiation, give or take. That puts us at roughly 30 weeks.
We'll get there.
(Thanks Roo for the great picture!)