In my month in review posts I have made mention of what I have been going through with breast cancer. Here is the whole story that I have promised:
I woke up Thanksgiving (Nov. 2011) morning to a quarter size spot of blood on my nightshirt right over my right nipple and since it was a holiday, I could not get a hold of my doctor until the following Monday. I wasn’t to concerned because I had just had my annual gynecological exam and mammogram in August and all the results came back normal. I honestly just thought that I had somehow scratched myself or something like that.
So on Monday I called my doctor and was told that she wanted to see me that day. So of course I rushed right in and we reviewed my mammogram results, did another physical breast exam (in which my doctor was able to take a sample of the blood coming from my nipple for testing) and scheduled a diagnostic mammogram. On the follow up visit, my doctor told me that I had a Ductal Papilloma (basically a skin tag, or wart, growing inside my milk duct) that needed to be removed.
So we scheduled an appointment with a general surgeon, had a few more tests done (to try and locate the exact location of the papilloma), and scheduled the surgery for January 2012. I was terrified, the only surgery I’d ever had was having my wisdom teeth removed. Plus, there was the added fear of what would my breast look like afterwards (how big would the scar be, etc). The surgery went well, the doctor told hubby that they were able to find and take out the papilloma.
The follow up visit a week later didn’t go as well. The pathology report said that it was NOT just a ductal papilloma, but was actually DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) which is basically stage 0 (non-invasive) breast cancer (only occurs about 10% of cases) AND there was not a large enough clear margin of normal cells around the tumor they removed. So, I would have to have another surgery (a lumpectomy) to remove a larger area around where the original tumor (papilloma) was. This was scheduled for February 2012. Again, the surgery went well, the doctor told hubby they “got all the bad cells”.
The follow up visit (once again) did not go well. The pathology report said that they did not remove all the DCIS (that is was multi-focal and aggressive) AND that they found a small (less than 1 cm) spot of Stage 1 (invasive) breast cancer. DCIS becomes invasive ductal breast cancer if it breaks through the wall of the milk duct. This meant that I would have to have a mastectomy. I have never heard anything that terrified me more, they were going to remove my right breast-the whole breast. So, once again we scheduled the surgery for March 2012.
I opted to have immediate reconstruction, which means that after the general surgeon removed the breast, a plastic surgeon would insert a tissue expander and then close up the incision. I would then go weekly and have the expander filled with saline solution until is was the desired size, then after about 3 months it would be replaced with an implant, and then about another 3 months the nipple would be created. This meant that in addition to the 3 surgeries I have already had, I would need 2 more surgeries, but at least these were positive surgeries.
If only my luck would allow it to go that smoothly, but that is for another post.