Can I be serious with you today? I know I kid around a lot and try to keep my posts "light" but yet educational, but I never forget that cancer....any cancer....is a serious life-threatening disease. I hope I never come across as "flippant" about it. Being "positive" is my way of handling it and in my opinion, it's the only way to get through it! I like to show pics and tell stories of my progress to encourage others and let them know that it is not an "automatic death sentence" and we can live with cancer! None of us are promised tomorrow...whether we are battling cancer or not. So, I choose to live each day in a positve manner and even during my cancer battle, I have found humor and blessings.
I have had questions from others lately as to why I chose to have a bilateral (double) masectomy, especially since the cancer was only in my left breast. It isn't anything the doctors coerced me into. As a matter of fact, they kept telling me I could have a lumpectomy and my survival rate would be the same. But, the reoccurence rate would not. My surgeon did not sway me one way or another...it is a very personal decision and may not be the right decision for others. Once I made that decision, my doctors fully supported me.
Before getting breast cancer, it was easy to say I'd "just take them off" if I was ever diagnosed. It is quite another thing when you are really faced with that decison. For me, I had a few months to think about it....since I had chemo first. I was always drawn to the bilateral masectomy decision, but there were times (especially when I felt bad from chemo) that a lumpectomy sure sounded easier! And it would have been! But, I also knew the bilateral masectomy would cut my chances of it returning drastically, even in my non-diseased breast. I couldn't ignore that fact and after going through chemo, I didn't like the thought of it returning and having to go through chemo again. I have known others who had a lumpectomy and had the cancer come back within a year or two. I wanted to give myself the best chance possible of it not returning.
NO GUARANTEE! Even with bilateral masectomy, it can still return. The comedian, Wanda Sykes, was recently disagnosed and had a bilateral masetomy and commented on the Ellen Show that she was 100% cured....that she could never get breast cancer again! I wish that were true. In reality, it reduces our chances 90%, but there is still that 10% chance of it reoccurring. So, the bilateral masectomy does dractically cut our chances of reoccurence....but not by 100%. My surgeon explained to me that it is impossible to remove all of the breast tissue, so some is still left behind. And cancer can return in that remaining breast tissue. I have also learned that breast cancer can spread to 4 areas of your body....bones, brain, lung, and liver.
I feel good about my chances, as I know I've done everything I can to keep that from happening...the rest is out of my hands. The thought of reoccurence is always at the back of a survivor's mind, but I choose not to dwell on it. Like I said, no one is guaranteed tomorrow and I choose to live my life in a positive manner and not dwell on things I cannot change.
Another reason I chose the bilateral masectomy was my own family history. With my mom and sister being diagnosed right ahead of me, I went from low risk to high risk immediately. So, with that in mind, I had to realize I was still at high risk and it just made sense for me to get the bilateral masectomy. I also have a history of "growing things", as I have had two large ovarian cysts removed at different times in my life. The last time...about 8 years ago....they were sure I had ovarian cancer, but as it turned out, I had pre-cancerous cells, but no cancer! Praise God! But, when making the decision, I considered my own health issues, along with my family history. I feel this was the right decision for me. It may not be the right decision for you or anyone else....everyone needs to make that decision for themselves and be comfortable with their decision. I have no regrets.
I'll be honest....the reconstruction was a harder decision for me than the bilateral masectomy. Quite frankly, I wasn't upset at the thought of being "boobless". But, for some, it would be devastating. I made the reconstruction decision at the last minute....I didn't think I'd do it and all of a sudden I was saying, "Let's go for it!" I even surprised myself. I was feeling weak from chemo and just didn't know if I wanted to put myself through more pain and procedures just to have boobs. I know I joke around a lot about my new "perky Cs", but in reality, it's a very uncomfortable procedure....even painful at times. About six weeks after the surgery, I began to feel better. It was pretty rough before that. As I "grow", I have no regrets with my decision and am eager to get these tissue expanders out and the silicone implants in! Again, this is a very personal decision and there is no wrong decision.
I hope I never offend anyone with my joking around. It's my way of dealing with all of this and keeping myself in an upbeat and positive mode. It's also my way of reassuring my family and friends that I will be ok. While I recognize the down side of cancer and don't want to make light of it....I also don't want to be "doom and gloom" either. I don't think that would help me at all and I truly believe there is a difference between "dying from cancer" and "living with cancer". I choose the latter. I will "live" until my last breath....whether that's a year or 30 years from now! I just know that God can use this experience of mine and has given me a purpose in life for however long He keeps me around. My deepest desire is to encourage others going through this, as so many have encouraged me.
I "preach" early detection and mammograms because I truly believe it gives us more hope for recovery and less treatment. But, I also recognize that so much research is helping us live longer, even when not caught early. We who are getting diagnosed today are more fortunate than those years ago, as much strides in treatment and prolonging our lives has been made. While it isn't necessarily cured, we can still live with it!
Until next time....get your mammograms and do your self exams!
And if you ever want to ask me anything, don't hesitate!
PS...I had promised pics of me and Larry at French Lick and will be getting them posted this week. I still need to upload and crop the pics.