Yeah, that was my reaction the first time when they used all of those fancy words – in short, two weeks ago today, I had a preventative double mastectomy, and I wasn’t quite ready to talk about it. “Wow, that happened fast!” is the response I’ve received from many. And why didn’t I talk about it before now – because this was my choice. I wanted to do it my way, on my terms only…without any input from the outside world or really, anyone outside of my medical team, to be quite frank. I went to my breast oncology surgeon and plastic surgeon appointments solo, because I knew what I wanted to do, so there was no reason for anyone else to accompany me – I wasn’t sick this time around, therefore, whole new ballgame.
Initially, before my genetic testing came back in March 2017, we thought I was more than likely going to need to do this when I finished chemo since the chances of me not having a genetic mutation with having both ovarian and endometrial cancer, was pretty low. BUT, as my luck would have it – the “low percentages” kept in my favor and there was really no genetic reason as to why I ended up with all that I have to date. So then why? I’ll explain that in more detail in a future post, but in short, one side of my family history is very strong in the breast cancer department and it took one additional thing happening this summer for me to go from not really a concern “at this moment in time” (a phrase used all to often in my world, I feel), to high-risk.
Sure, I had other options – adding one more set of doctor’s appointments and imaging every 6 months indefinitely. This is in addition to my regular 3 month appointments and blood draws to check my ca125 and visit with Dr. H to make sure the ovarian cancer was still maintaining N.E.D. status, the ultrasound every 12 months on my thyroid due to a polyp we needed to address and monitor once I was done with chemo, and a polyp in my gallbladder that decided to surface a year ago this October every 6 months – my head couldn’t take one more visit having to hold my breath until someone told me I was “okay” and I could breathe until the next time I had to come back. More times than not, it’s not that dramatic – but when the worst has happened out of nowhere, it’s kinda the approach you take, and in the in-between, you live it up creating memories and going on adventures to make up for lost time (as you may have guessed, this hasn’t slowed me down much at all!).
So I selected to have this procedure to ensure I had peace of mind with this whole thing. You see, once you go through chemo and having to worry about whether or not the cancer you have is going to kill you, you’ll do anything to ensure it doesn’t happen again, or at least that you have the least chance possible of it happening. I’d have been so angry with myself if I’d chosen to have imaging every 6 months to monitor things and then one day my oncologist told me they’d seen something on the images and we needed to take care of it.
As I write this, I’m feeling really great – bored out of my flipping mind, but really great! I’m restricted quite a bit this time around – heck, maybe I was last time, but I was too weak and too sick to remember wanting to do much. Over the next several weeks and months I’ll update about several things – the “why” behind family history, what the procedure entailed (this is COMPLETELY different than a breast augmentation or having had this done because you were diagnosed with breast cancer), things that have helped me post-procedure, how the kids are, and much much more. Folks, this isn’t a one and done kind of thing – it’s a longer process than I’d imagined, and yes, I will be having one more procedure and then I should be done with this part of things.
*** To those of you reading this who are breast cancer survivors, I would never compare this to what you’ve been through, remotely, just like if you needed to have a hysterectomy due to genetic or family history reasons you wouldn’t compare it to the procedure I had done – it’s not the same. And for those of you reading this who’ve had breast augmentation, it’s not the same…please don’t try to compare the two ***