Monday, March 21, 2011

prophylactic bilateral mastectomy...

Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. It's a term that all you breast cancer survivors and patients have probably heard and it's growing in popularity. I never thought I'd have a week or two to become a mini-expert on the subject of breast cancer: it's prevention, detection and treatment and, yet, here I am learning more and more about the subject daily.

After the two tumors were found in my left breast and diagnosed as malignant, my general surgeon and I discussed the option of having an MRI to determine if we had found all the possible tumors and to ensure that there was no evidence of cancer in the other breast.

That was last Monday and by last Wednesday, I had learned the following about my breasts: there were not two, but six tumors on my left breast and my right breast had a 'suspicious,' spot that we would take a look at by way of ultrasound. I had, before the MRI, already decided on going the route of prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM), but now, as time wears on, the 'P,' in 'PBM,' is becoming less and less applicable.

Every one of my tumors is minuscule. I have seen so many doctors at this point and EVERY single one expresses his/her shock at my ability to have discerned these tumors that keep getting the descriptors, 'tiny,' and 'microscopic.' We're talking between 3mm and 7mm in size. They feel like seeds or grains of rice. It is phenomenal that I found these, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that I have such fibrous breast tissue.

Younger women tend to have very dense breast tissue and as we age, it loses it's density. This is a big problem for young women. It means that we generally don't find our tumors until they've become rather advanced and more difficult to ignore.

Due to these factors, I feel incredibly fortunate. Some people comment on how awful it is that I've been diagnosed with cancer and it is. It is horrible. But I don't feel that most of the time; most of the time I feel exceedingly blessed.
I am a very lucky girl.

Because of this luck, I feel like the mastectomy was the best route for me, even before the, 'suspicious,' spot was detected on my right breast. I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with as much peace of mind as possible. I fully intend on spending at least another fifty years here on this planet. For me--knowing how miraculous it was that I found these iddy biddy tumors when I did--having the mastectomy was the only choice.

So, I'll have my double mastectomy performed and, simultaneously, the reconstructive surgery by way of direct implant. Two tissue expanders will take the place of my original breast tissue and over the course of several weeks, through a series of saline injections, the expanders will safely stretch my breast tissue to accommodate the silicone implants that will swapped out in a later surgery.

It's involved. It's exhaustive. It's daunting. But, I'm armed with a growing arsenal of knowledge and have a supporting cast of gifted surgeons and doctors. My family and friends are incredible and I have a little girl who's waiting for my emergence on the other side of this, an even better version of myself. :)

For more information on the procedure of PBM, see the blog I have listed in my blogroll. April's story is phenomenal and truly inspiring. :)

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