Wednesday, January 13, 2016


     This week has been rather exciting. I received a phone call Monday from Anne, the breast cancer nurse manager. I did not think she was very pleasant when I met her in person on Dec 16. She isn't that great on the phone, either. But she called to tell me that my MRI from Dec 23rd showed that the mass in my right breast is bigger than Dr. Haigh realized, so he would not be able to do a lumpectomy.
     I told her that I never wanted a lumpectomy. I want a double mastectomy. She asked if I had met with plastic surgery. I said no, that I was waiting to hear my test results from Dr. Haigh. She said she would put in the referral for plastic surgery and that they would call me to set up an appointment.
     Anne also mentioned that it looked like I had a funny blood vessel next to my liver, so they wanted to do a CT scan to check that out. As scary as breast cancer is, liver cancer is way scarier, so this was alarming. She said I'd get a call to schedule the CT scan.
     She finished the call saying that maybe Dr. Haigh wouldn't need to see me on the 13th, since we couldn't schedule surgery until after I had met with plastic surgery. I said that I wanted to see him to discuss all over my test results. So she said we would keep that appointment.
     I got home from work Monday and emailed Dr. Haigh, to let him know that I wanted the bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, and sooner rather than later. I then asked him for a ballpark for when he thought this could happen.
    Dr. Haigh emailed me this morning that we could do the bilateral if I wanted, and that he is super busy -- he's the assistant director of the department. So he asked if he could hand my case over to a colleague of his who did have surgery availability in February.
     At my appointment today, my friend Carolyn went with me. I had to undress to my waist and put on a gown, so she got to see my boobs. It was a bonding experience.
     Dr. Haigh's chief resident came in to see me, to make sure that it was ok for Dr. Haigh to pass me over to Dr. Leung. Then Dr. Haigh came in to see me. He tried to convince me that a single mastectomy would be sufficient. I told him that these breasts had failed to live up to their promise, and that I could no longer trust them and they both had to go. So he said that was fine. He told me about Dr. Leung and that she was more experienced in nipple saving breast surgery, and that that might interest me. We chatted a bit and then he said goodbye.
     While waiting for Dr. Leung, plastic surgery called me to set up an appointment with them. I am meeting with a plastic surgeon on Jan 26.
     Dr. Leung came in with her resident, and spent some time reviewing my record. She said that the team had discussed my case during the tumor session this morning, so she was pretty familiar. She said that doing the bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction was fine.  She said that we should be able to do the surgery at the beginning of February. I am meeting with her next on Jan 28, so we can discuss my plastic surgery consult, and I can sign all of the consent forms and complete my pre-operation stuff.
     I will have to miss a month of work. Dr. Leung said that I should assume I will need chemo, and if so, that most women choose not to work during chemo. I told her that I would prefer to work during chemo. She was definitely not encouraging. She said that as a teacher, I am surrounded by germs, and chemo weakens the immune system. I told her we would see how it goes.
     After Dr. Leung left, I met with Juanita, the cancer support social worker. She was super chatty. By this time, Carolyn and I had been at the clinic for more than an hour. Anyway, Juanita gave me a calendar of support group meetings, and gave me some information about disability for the time I'm recuperating from surgery. I asked her if I could work during chemo, and she said that many women do, and that I should try it and see how it goes, and I can always take time off if I need to.
     So it's feeling a bit overwhelming now that everything is happening. But I am ready for things to start happening. It helps to have a sense of when surgery will occur. I can plan for missing most of February for surgery and recovery. When I get back to work, it will be March. Spring break is at the end of March, I think. I think I can make it until summer break. We shall see.

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