Its all I can think about--should I have the mastectomy, or not, and if I do, should I do a bilateral (remove both breasts)?
I've been reading alot on the forums at Breastcancer.org. Pros are: no need for radiation (in my case, anyway); no need for repeated lumpectomies; no worries about cancer returning to that breast. Some women remove the non-cancerous breast also--for cosmetic reasons, (both will be the same size), or prophylactic (sp?) reasons--they don't have to worry about getting cancer in that breast. Although there is a chance (5% I think?) that you can still can breast cancer because there still is a small amount of breast tissue on the chest wall. If reconstruction is done you can end up with perkier breasts!
Cons are: uneven breasts (if only doing one); longer recovery; phantom pains occurring months to years later (post mastectomy pain syndrome); self-image concerns.
I'm sure there are more issues on both sides, but that's all I can think of at the moment.
I'm really struggling with the self image stuff. Of course Rich will still love me, no matter what I do, but men are visual after all. I may end up looking better with clothes on, but reconstructed breasts will never be the same as "real" ones.
And I worry alot about the pains that may happen after, and may last for years. I want to be done with cancer once I've finished treatment, I don't want to suffer for years. OK, knowing what I know about cancer treatment, that shouldn't be a concern. Most treatments DO have lasting effects. My neuropathy could be permanent, and I have "female" issues from radiation that I will have to deal with forever, and don't forget the sensitive, sometimes very painful skin on my bottom, and the list goes on.
I've been struggling with "who am I?" I have the head knowledge of knowing I am loved by my husband, kids, family, and that I am created in God's own image. But I still feel like I am losing myself as a woman. I might be a hairless, boobless, scarred up shell of a woman. Hey, just laying it out there. Actually, just typing all this helps me work through it. And I know it may sound silly to many of you. But these are the things I have to work through.
Right now, I'm going to try to give it a rest. I won't be making the decision until I have the genetic test results, and I talk over ALL my options with the surgeon.
Today I worked in my garden for a little bit. Couldn't do too much with one arm, but I did fill one big bag with leaves and plant debris. Everyone else around here has already cleaned out their gardens, and mine are still full of oak leaves! And the weeds are already taking over! I'm thinking of paying the neighbor boy to clean out the rest and weed for me. Then I want to buy more perennials to plant. I haven't done much with mine and last year they didn't look so good. Time to fill in with some new ones. We'll see if it gets done this year. I guess it depends on how well I handle this chemo. I can't imagine that it could be worse than the Folfox I had before. This stuff is supposed to be easier to tolerate--I've heard that before though! There are people who were able to work through the 12 rounds of Folfox, and I could hardly lift my head off the pillow! And remember my radiation was supposed to be easy? NOT!! If anyone has to have radiation for colon/rectal/anal cancer, have them talk to me FIRST. There are things they need to know!
I think I'm healing well from my surgery. I haven't needed any pain meds the last 2 days. I'm a little sore now, from being so busy today, but its not too bad. I have to wear bulky clothes, or loose shirts so that you can't really tell I'm not wearing a bra, or see my drain. I wear a cami that has a pocket for my drain and a light shelf bra, but anyone my size knows shelf bras are a joke! The drain is a pain(in the rain in Spain[sorry]), but, manageable. I'm scared to have it yanked out tho! Some people say it hurts alot, some not so much. I've heard its a quick pain that only hurts for a moment.
Oh--speaking of "my size"...Rich and I ran into some friends at Walmart and we were talking about mastectomies (seems everyone knows someone who's had one). I said it might be easier to have them both removed, to help even things out. Rich looked at my chest and said in my case I might be walking around leaning to one side if I only have one removed, and then my friend mimicked how I might be walking. Funny guys--ha-ha...but really, it was good to laugh about it! Although I'm pretty sure my cheeks turned red!
Next week I will have my MUGA test for my heart on Tues., and then on Friday my 3 ct scans (chest, abdomen, and pelvic area), and bone scan. I should be glowing in the dark after all these tests are done! On either one of those days I will have an EKG too. I guess they don't have to schedule that. My gene test results should be in soon, and I need to meet with my surgeon too. Lots to do! I won't have surgery or chemo until after Alyssa's "wedding" (vow renewal and reception), which is May 23rd.
Okay--thanks for checking in, and thanks for listening--I feel better already!
Oh--Just wanted to mention that Shonna is singing at church tomorrow. Come and visit us at Bridgewood, if you'd like. :)
Love and blessings!