WARNING – Some content may make you wince
When I was told I had cancer, I was also told that they wanted to investigate the calcifications further which would involve a vacuum biopsy. I needed to wait a week for this procedure. Back at the breast institute again, the nurses are beginning to recognise me soon they will know me by name! I wasn’t nervous about the procedure as the last biopsy was painless and I was having a local anaesthetic. I was taken to a room, and asked to remove my top clothes (yep these boobs get another outing – wonder if it will ever get any easier), I lay on a bed on my left side, then my right breast is placed in the mammogram machine, the radiologist gives me a local on the surface of my breast and another inside my breast in the area to be cut, yes this did hurt. My vacuum biopsy was guided by a mammogram, they can also be guided by ultrasound (however calcifications do not show up on an ultrasound) the radiologist places a probe into the area of breast that has the calcifications in, a vacuum then draws the tissue into the probe. a rotating cutting device removes a tissue sample and this is then pulled up the probe as a sample. Unfortunately whilst I was having the first sample taken I had to cry out as I could feel it all, and it B#####y hurt. More local anaesthetic was needed (you would have thought they would have looked at the size of my boobs and guessed that before!) They needed to take 6 samples, but this is me we are talking about so the machine decided to have a little melt down and got stuck half way through. It took them an hour to take the samples, I was extremely uncomfortable. The nurses were fantastic though they had covered me up and kept me informed to what was going on, lots of people in and out of the room, trying to fix the machine. Once I was released from its grips I was moved to another room, where a nurse then spent 15 minutes massaging my breast – not lightly either to stop the bruising (unfortunately this didn’t help, or if it did I dread to think how bruised it could have been) All in all an experience I don’t wish to repeat in a hurry.
I needed to wait week for results as these are on a Friday, 16th December, my work Christmas do, not be going to that then. I see a different consultant this time, he explains that the area of calcifications is pre cancerous and if left would become a cancer. My cancer is very tiny as we caught it early, but this other area is large. He recommends that I have it all removed, so this would mean a mastectomy, we have suddenly gone from a simple lumpectomy to the whole breast going. How did this happen? Diane was with us, as the consultant explained it all to me after again examining my breasts, he also said I have options, I could have a simple mastectomy, or they maybe able to do a reconstruction at the same time. I said I would like to explore this avenue. Another wait to see a plastic surgeon, this would not be till next week 23rd December, Christmas.
Back we go to the breast institute my new second home, I meet with 2 plastic surgeons, one who specialises in using your tummy area and one who uses your back, and implants. Both female, this is the first time I actually felt like an object when being examined, the surgeon who uses the tummy, poked and prodded, pulled and pinched. She said she would do it using my tummy but had concerns around my BMI, I could have a mastectomy, lose weight and in the future have a reconstruction, or risk it now but………….all the worse scenarios possible given. Another option was a skin saving mastectomy with a skin stretching implant ready to fill later or an LD reconstruction (Latissimus Doris Flap) using back muscle, fat and tissue again this surgeon was concerned about my BMI. Luckily Diane was there to save the day, she took us into another room with her ipad and showed me pictures of all the successful options, she also said we have to give you worse case scenarios so you can make an informed choice. Diane kindly said she was surprised about their concern regarding BMI, as she said I don’t look to bad etc. We left Nottingham with loads of leaflets (and heads throbbing with information) about mastectomy’s and reconstructions, with the idea I was to make a decision by the following Tuesday, first day back after Christmas break, it was agreed that I would ring Diane, and she would then schedule a meeting with whichever surgeon would do the operation (if I couldn’t make a decision Diane did say she would make an appointment to discuss further) Cancers taking Christmas too.
How do you know if you’ve made the right decision? This is so alien, no one can tell you what to choose, you feel scared because you have cancer, guilty because Christmas is ruined as this is hanging over you, all you want to do is curl up and shut the world out, I cancel seeing friends and going out, I can’t cope with everyone else’s lives carrying on as normal, all the happy pictures on facebook. (I know this is a normal reaction to grief any grief and this is a type of grief, I am losing part of me) cancer has turned my world upside down.
I pull myself together, I am a positive person, oh yes I am…………..but how do I make this decision, I ask myself. But I do, not sure how but it came to me LD reconstruction was what I choose, this is what I want ….no I don’t want it, but this is what I need. I ring Diane early that Tuesday morning, and she was bright and said that she would organise a meeting with the surgeon, she will get back to me before the end of the week. When she rang me back she was happy to say that Mr Kristjen would be my surgeon and that she was positive that I would like him and be happy with this, oh and how right was she !!
Adrienne, your writing is so amazing. I had no appreciation of what you were going through over Christmas. My mother often has the mantra “this to will pass”. However when you are in the moment it is hard to see past it. You are an inspiration. Love you Em x
Another insightful post. I’m sure this is so helpful for anyone who might go through this. And with the statistics, it could be any of us. X
If I ever have to go through this nightmare then your words will have removed one fear for me. The not knowing. Thank you xxx
You are an inspiration hunny, I had no idea, what all the ins and outs are like and as you said, to dealing with the cancer is one thing, but to have to make a decision on the reconstruction, is another !! xxx