After my visit with the surgeon, I had to go for a few more tests: a mammogram of my left breast, a chest x-ray, and an abdominal CT scan (the latter being part of my annual follow up from the kidney cancer). These tests would determine if there was any urgent reason to take more aggressive action. I got a kick out of reading all the medical reports: I have “stable appearance” of the chest and my lungs are “grossly clear” (how can something be gross and clear at the same time?). My liver and spleen are “homogeneous” without a whole bunch of big words. The adrenal glands and pancreas are “unremarkable” (come on, I think they’re kind of cute!). I do have a few tiny “calculi” in my kidneys (otherwise known as stones) and my perinephric fat planes are intact (I could have told them anything regarding fat was intact…). Bladder, uterus, ovaries, ureters, bowels… all clean. Likewise, my left mammogram came back as “benign”, see you in 12 months.
All of that was welcome relief; all good news. So why wasn’t I sleeping?
I firmly believe that God puts who and what we need in your path, when we need it, and last Wednesday was no different. When I went for my pre-admission testing at CMC Geisinger, the lovely nurse Jan who was giving me instructions for the day of surgery mentioned that she was a 25 year survivor!!!! We hit it off, both sharing a lot of information, and she talked about how her first breast cancer was very invasive. First cancer?? And how, four years later, it came back in the other breast (but they caught it early). And that’s when it hit me, like a smack upside the head… I was so afraid of cancer coming back in the left breast. I didn’t want to get cancer again in 2 or 4 or even 20 years. I couldn’t bear to go through this — again.
So I had a long discussion with David and I created a list of pros and cons for each option. And I honestly couldn’t come up with any substantial reasons to keep the left breast, outside of it not being medically necessary at this time. I called Dr. Burns, my beloved gynecologist, and asked if there was any good reason why I should keep it. And then I polled my mom, my sister-in-law, and a slew of friends and asked: “if it were you, what would you do” (a la Dr. Seuss)? And it was unanimous: take both.
Peace of mind is the number one reason for taking both. I’ve been sleeping much better since making that call. But other considerations: symmetry, reconstruction balance, never having to go for a mammogram again, and just how weird would it be to just have one! Plus I figure I can put on a warm-up jacket and pretend I’m a runner! 🙂
I know others would make a different decision, but I am so at peace with my decision and know that it’s the right thing for me.