Today was a great day! Any teacher loves a snow day, and today was a glorious one. An unexpected day off since the snow was not supposed to accumulate too badly. More and more in today's world, snow days are decided upon more quickly than "back in my day" (yeah...when I walked two miles in the blizzard with cardboard in my boots and a driving wind in my face...no, now that I think of it...that was a movie I saw). Times change...society changes....and (as I know now) life can change "on a dime".
Things are pretty good today. My cold is just about gone, the side effects from the Taxol are "manageable", (I am so glad I am on the lower dosage! It might be a longer treatment time, but so worth it!), and I am feeling more like myself. So today is a small break in the journey to stop and take a rest and just coast on this feeling of "I'm OK".
As I take this respite, I find myself looking on the calendar and seeing my appointment with my breast surgeon for next Thursday. This appointment will begin the decisions on the next part of my journey. It will be another 8 weeks of chemo and some more weeks in between to get the chemo out of my system before surgery can even happen; but sometime in the early spring, my decisions about the next step...(more breast surgery) need to be decided.
To remind you of my circumstance, I already had breast surgery in September. At that time, we were told at first everything looked "good". But they don't tell you to "wait for the results of the labs" for nothing. And when they came back, I found out that most of my margins (the areas near the removed tissue) still had plenty of DCIS tissue present (non-invasive cancer, but cancer that still needs to go) and there was a darn "speck" of cancer on my second node. The minute I heard that, I knew my world had changed and nothing would be the same. Since the invasive cancer had already been removed, the priority became to ensure that any cancer that might be traveling in my body was "tracked down and eliminated". Chemo was the next step and this is the part of the journey I have been on since October. After chemo, the next step would, in most cases, be radiation...but that is where my decisions come in and why this will not be my next step.
I have already spoken with my breast surgeon concerning the need for a mastectomy on my left breast, This is because so much tissue has already been removed, and so much more would still have to go (the leftover non-invasive tissue mentioned above). It is such a vast area, that the mastectomy is the recommended option for me. Since I will be having the mastectomy, that eliminates the need for radiation. The decision that I will talk to her about further, though, is my decision to have the other breast removed as well.
It is not an easy decision since right now, there "appears" to be no need to do both breasts. However, like so many others who have gone through this...you don't want to overlook any possible way that you can protect your body and try to ensure you never have to go through this again. I have always had a problem with "dense breasts" and I do fear that it is only a matter of time before something shows on my other breast. I don't want to wait for that "other shoe to drop" and I don't want to feel like I am playing "Russian roulette" with my life. So, my decision is becoming more and more clear to me that I need to have the double mastectomy.
Soon I begin making all new decisions about reconstruction, learning new surgical/medical terminology, and deciding on the type of surgery itself (there are many ways that it can be done). It does mean that we are kinda at the mid-point in the chemo so that is encouraging. As I have said before, though, I always find looking too much into the future during this whole journey can get daunting. But it is time to look ahead now somewhat....decisions need to be made...my future determined. But hey, life goes on....thank God!