Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I Know So Far, Part 4

Yesterday at school I told the other members of my department (well, the ones who are helping out with summer studying) about my diagnosis. I'm so fortunate to have coworkers who are caring and supportive!

I need to call to find out how long my MRI will take, because I want to go out to eat afterward and I'd like to see if anyone wants to come along. But I don't know what time that will be yet!

One of the other teachers mentioned that I'd probably get my reconstruction right away because radiation damages the skin, so they don't like doing reconstruction afterward. So I might get my new bod sooner than I'd thought! But, really, I just won't know until Monday or so.

"I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."

"... I hate waiting." :P

So, anyway.

An unpleasant surprise in the path report was that they found a SECOND tumor just in some of the flesh that they scooped out with the primary one. Now, the good news on this one is that it's DCIS, the non-invasive kind. So it's not gonna kill me - especially now that it's out! The not-so-good news is... what are the chances that the only other tumor I had just happened to be the one that they found in that tissue sample?

I'm thinking that maybe it's better than the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field (3720 to 1, in case you were wondering) but probably not by much.

Now, hopefully tomorrow's MRI will be able to pinpoint the rest of the little buggers (that one was 2mm, which is maybe a bit smaller than a lowercase o). I'm really really hoping that the MRI can see things all the way down to, like, micrometers. I'm not sure how small a micrometer is, but it sounds near-invisible.

This might be something that's best handled with radiation therapy. I really don't know; surgery might be a better option. Guess I'll find out on Monday!

The last really important thing from my path report is that my primary tumor grows really well when it's "fed" by estrogen and progesterone. This means that if we can reduce or remove those hormones, it (and any cancer cells related to it) will be a lot less dangerous to me.

These hormones are produced by the ovaries. So I can have my ovaries removed... or I can take drugs that prevent production of those hormones or suppress them or something. I'm really leaning forward to the surgery because it's a once-and-done thing. I think I'd have to take the drugs pretty much forever. And it's the sort of thing that you HAVE TO REMEMBER... and I'm not so good at that!

Plus? The idea of never again having to buy tampons or waking up in the middle of the night with cramps or feeling sick to my stomach and aching all over... ooo, I like that idea a LOT. It'll also reduce my Aleve consumption, and all that sodium probably isn't good for me ;)

Finally, because I'm so young, there's also a fairly strong possibility that I'll have a "prophylactic mastectomy" on the other side. Prophylactic means preventative (that's why sometimes condoms are called prophylactics). So even if the MRI shows that my left side is clear, my risk factors are high enough that it should be taken care of just to be safe. And one really really awesome thing about that is that I wouldn't EVER have to wear a bra again! And I won't sag! Not ever!

There are different possibilities for reconstruction, but after thinking about it for awhile, I'm leaning toward getting another implant. A lot of that is that I know I don't want to have to fuss with prosthetics - with reconstruction, once it's done, I won't have to do anything special. And implants mean less cutting me up than other forms of reconstruction (there are other methods where you actually use your own tissue). Finally... well... implants come in different sizes, and I'm kind of hoping to be able to maybe pick whatever size I want!

So that's pretty much all there is to it. So far, anyway. What concerns me most at this point is that I'm not sure what the best way to keep tabs on things is. I really wish there was some way to be sure we could catch any tumors before they got to this stage, but I can't imagine that an annual MRI would be feasible. That's something I'm going to need to ask on Monday, I guess.

The cancer panel meets tomorrow and they're going to discuss my case. I'll be interested to see what everybody had to say!


Joan said...

You and my sweet friend are walking a very similar path. Hers helps me understand your and your helps me understand hers... Does that make sense?

Oh, and never having saggy boobs? That is so cool! ;)

Mrs. Chili said...

I love your tone here. "I won't sag! Ever!" You really are on an epic adventure, and I continue to be grateful that you're taking us along.

Why wouldn't an annual MRI be feasible? I would imagine, with your history, that it would be something that would be recommended...

Clix said...

Joan: I absolutely know what you mean. While no two journeys are the same, each one helps us understand the others! Your friend is so fortunate to have your support :)

Chili: due to the expense. I can see insurance companies fighting us on it, especially after all the surgery that they'll be paying for. Because think about it - shouldn't that have lowered my risk? I mean, I'm hopeful but I think I might have to be a bit pushy.

Fortunately I think I can manage that. >;)

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