Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take that, cancer!

Its done! Chemo is done!!

I had my last treatment on July 17th. Unfortunately the fatigue is cumulative with each round, so even though I did not have that evil Neulasta shot - so no bone pain - I am still dealing with some fatigue on day 14. (normally its gone by day 10) I had one day that I was feeling pretty good, and even posted something on Facebook about being back. Apparently it was caffeine talking. A couple days later my counts dropped further and I got sick. Today my neutrophils are at 400. I've been on a broad spectrum oran antibiotic for a week and will continue for a few more days. Without that I would be in the hospital on IV antibiotics.

Anyway, even though I'm still dealing with some side effects, chemo is done, and that is a huge thing! Clearly worth celebrating!

I have spent the last four months researching all of my option related to mastectomy and reconstruction while taking into consideration the risks associated with each decision.  I was, and still am, happy with my own boobs. I just don't want them to kill me. I have a 1/4 chance of getting cancer again if I leave them alone. I don't want cancer again.

Today I met with my plastic surgeon, Dr. L. I have used her in the past and knew she did breast reconstruction. She did her plastics training at Mayo clinic, and she is awesome! I have to say, my boobs are really the only part of me that I truly am happy with. I am NOT happy to be faced with the decision of whether or not to do a mastectomy.

First Dr. L.  looked at the size and shape of my breasts and the current scars from my lumpectomy and lymph node biopsies. Most women want to have a shape similar to their natural breasts. Based on where my scars are she thinks I am a good candidate for nipple sparing surgery. This is a big deal, because it means the end result is much closer to a natural breast. I really want to be comfortable looking at my own body, much less my husband. It is impossible to know until the doctors are in surgery and can take a good look at the nipple and surrounding tissue, but for now it looks like a good option.

Because there isn't cancerous tissue involved I can have reconstruction at the same time as mastectomy. That means as soon as the breast tissue is removed the doctor would place a tissue expander under the muscle of the chest wall. This would be left in for several months and slowly expanded through a port similar to the port in my chest. Once they're the right size (similar to my current natural size) I would have another out-patient surgery to exchange the expanders for implants.

Next we talked about the type of implants she recommends for me and why. I have been researching implants for months now. Who knew there were so many? I thought I had decided I would prefer a cohesive gel implant, but once I got to ask some questions and see them for myself I don't think so. I was able to feel all the different types of implants and see how they would look in position.  Dr. L. also explained that at the top of the chest there is often a cavity after mastectomy. She uses fat grafting to fill in that area.

Then we discussed timing of surgery. If I need to have radiation it is better to have the mastectomy done before radiation. After radiation nipple sparing is not an option. After radiation the skin will loose all its elasticity. The loss of elasticity means I would need to have a dorsal flap procedure done to have enough skin to create a breast. There is also another type of flap procedure, using abdominal tissue, but I am not a candidate for that.


Needless to say, I would prefer not to have the flap procedure done. More scaring. More risk of problems. Having radiation after mastectomy comes with its on set of problems an is certainly an issue to keep in mind, and I still need to find out if I can go without radiation if I'm having a mastectomy and have already had chemo.

I left feeling like I was, for once, doing something that was proactive instead of reactive. Chemo is reactive. Radiation is reactive. Mastectomy to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer in one breast, or a new diagnosis in the other is a proactive approach. Next week I will meet with my oncologist as well as my other surgeon (He and Dr. L would work together to do my mastectomy and reconstruction.)

There is  no way to 100% eliminate all risk of breast cancer recurrence or to eliminate the risk of developing cancer in the other breast, but mastectomy is as close to zero as a woman can get. 

1 comment:

Holly @ Everydays a Hollyday said...

Yay to finishing chemo.