Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lots of Updates

Hello readers.  I have been a little MIA.  I haven't felt like talking or blogging for a little bit.  I have been doing a lot of resting as I recover from my last "big" treatment.  

It's exciting to say that I am 100% through my first phase of chemo (AC).  I am 7 days out and doing pretty good, considering.  I am pretty tired and have very low energy, but all-in-all I think I am doing well.  I will be starting phase 2 of chemo on 6/1.  It's a weekly treatment that will last 12 weeks. 

Last week, Steve and I met with some new members of my Hopkins team of doctors.  Monday, we met with my new surgeon, Dr. H.  We both liked him a lot, and we talked about several different surgical options we are considering at this point.  There are a few factors that we considered and discussed that resulted in my decision to have a mastectomy.  One of the factors discussed is my need for reconstruction.  After two surgeries and only a very small margin being "clear", the need for a third surgery was recommended.  There would still be a chance that the third surgery would not result in a big enough clear margin.  I currently need some reconstruction because of the current look and size of my right breast.  After all the swelling went down and my milk finally dried up, there is a pretty big difference in size.  It was also recommended that any decisions regarding reconstruction be made prior to starting radiation since that will cause future reconstruction to be a challenge, if not impossible, post radiation.  The whole nature of a lumpectomy is to preserve as much of the breast as possible, eliminating the need for a mastectomy.  Dr. H and I both agreed at this point a mastectomy with reconstruction is our best option.  With that being said, I feel we should just do a bilateral mastectomy, which would greatly reduce my chances of recurrence of cancer in my left breast and also make both breasts equal again.  They prefer to do a tummy tuck as part of the reconstruction, but unfortunately, I will not be a candidate for that.  This will make it a little more challenging for my plastic surgeon since I have very little extra body fat.  I will meet with my plastic surgeon in the next few weeks to discuss my options.

We also met with my radiation oncologist, Dr. A.  I really liked her.  She was very energetic and positive about everything.  She was very firm on my needing radiation.  Dr. H tried very hard lobbying on my behalf not to have radiation.  Reconstruction would be much easier, and I would have more reconstruction options if I did not have radiation.  Unfortunately, she did not waver on her opinion regarding radiation.  I will start radiation 3-6 weeks after the mastectomy.  I will receive daily treatments for 5-6 weeks. 

On Tuesday of that same week, I met with the genetic counselor at Hopkins.  We discussed the implications of genetic testing.  I will not be publishing my results on this blog, but I should know my test results in 2-3 weeks.  The biggest con was life insurance and the need to have the policy's updated prior to any testing.  Unfortunately, since I already have cancer and life insurance will be extremely costly right now, it didn't factor into my decision.  We also talked about the sociological aspects of knowing your specific statistics of getting cancer again.  A lot of what we discussed was related to future preventative surgeries they will recommend if I am positive for the BRAC testing.  The biggest one being that I should have my ovaries removed when I am 40.  Oh, and have a mastectomy, which I am already planning on doing.  We also discussed Charlotte and what we should do as she grows up to help with early detection.  We can, of course, have her tested, but I am not sure that's the best thing at this time.  We also discussed the importance of my brothers and sisters being tested.  I am sure this will be something we discuss in great detail when we are all together on vacation in July.  I am not sure if they have ever had a family tree listed that was quite as large as mine.  Since my mom was the youngest of 14, and there are 6 of us kids plus 14 of my nieces and nephews, it was quite the list.  One of the frustrations myself and the counselor discussed, was the misconception that breast cancer is not passed down from the father's side of the family.  I cannot tell you how many people, and medical professionals, who have said that BC is not passed down from the father.  We need to re-educate ourselves and others that this is not the case. 

So, last week was a busy week, and there was a lot of information to process.  I will say that although I am done my first phase of chemo, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know it's there, but there are still a lot of steps before it is really close.  Here is my tentative timeline.  Of course, a lot will depend on how I do with chemo, healing after surgery, and radiation. 

Mid Aug - Complete phase 2 of chemo
Mid Sep - Mastectomy
Mid Oct-Nov - Radiation
Jan-Feb - Reconstruction

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure the decision to have the mastectomy was not an easy one....but I think it's the right one. :) I'm proud of you! You are such an inspiration, and so incredibly strong. Much love from the Webbs.