Me, My Family, Post-Op Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

Two years later

Today is a Happy Anniversary for me, the 2 year mark since I underwent the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a life changing day for me. I thank god that I had the strength to make such a decision.  The year prior to the surgery was filled with doctors appointments, scans and blood work. The years prior to that were filled with biopsies and worry.  Since I also had the DIEP flap procedure done at the same time, my surgery took over 14 hours and  I spent 7 days in the hospital. The entire process took a total of three surgeries and several months to fully recover.  I would say that it took about a year before I felt normal.  I had numbness in my abdomen for a long time which was actually welcome after much pain.

I remember finally being released from the surgeons care many months after the BPM, walking to my car thinking both “wow” and “now what”?  Strange right?  Doctors became such a normal part of my life for so long that it was strange thinking about life after.  For so long my entire life was associated with my “procedure” it became part of my identity.

I can not believe it has been two years since the surgery.   I have not posted much over the last few months.  I started this blog as a way to help me keep my thoughts straight as I prepared for and recovered from major surgery.   As time has gone on I am not as sure as to what this will become.  I have recently entered a political race for our local town council.  I know that I do not want this sounding board to become anything political which is part of why I have stayed off of the pages. I also think there are already too many people posting about the day-to-day life of their children.  For the moment I will stay in the background posting from time to time.

Things that I learned through the process, never look back!  Make a decision and only look forward, trust in yourself that you made the right decision.   Especially with my pathology findings of lobular carcinoma in situ, had I waited another year or two….I can’t think about it and thankfully I did not!  Sadly, I also learned that many of the people who I loved and counted on were not there for me or my family when we needed them most.  A hurtful reality but one that we have accepted.  I no longer waste my time trying to keep our circle any larger than those who truly want to be a part of it.

I enjoy my family more than ever before. There are some who do not understand and to be honest I do not spend too much time explaining myself.  I hug my children tightly and kiss them everyday. I enjoy every minute I have with my family and I never pass up an opportunity to tell them how much I love them.  To all of the women out there, get you mammograms regularly, talk with your doctor and never be afraid to ask questions!

My beautiful family
My beautiful family
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Me, My Family

What if……

boy.-what-if-girl-love-quotes-Favim.com-627918.jpgI recently got into a conversation with someone in which I once again talked about my surgical history with the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. I share my story often and openly in the hopes that it may help someone else. I am typically met with some amount of shock followed by questions which are usually the same. Interestingly one of the first tends to be “was it painful”. Other typical questions surround BRCA testing, family history and what lead me to make the radical decision I did to have the mastectomy.

So, back to the most recent conversation. For the first time I was asked the question, “what if you made a mistake and the surgery was not needed.” I found that to be an interesting question especially since lobular carcinoma in situ(LCIS) was found. Even after discussing the pathology this person stuck to the yeah but “what if” question. A quick reply was what if I did not and 5 years down the road I was diagnosed with Breast cancer?tumblr_lvxxryaQc91qelri4o1_500_large

I do not live in “what if”. This is why I had the surgery. I never wanted to look back with regret. SO to help land my point I tossed out a few other what if questions.

What if the Declaration of Independence was never signed?

What if Martin Luther King had never been born?

What if women never gained the right to vote?

What if we had never pushed the norms of technology?

size300_whatif300All of these questions  sound just ridiculous.  Life is all about decisions.  They are not always easy or comfortable and there will always be someone standing off to the side just waiting to second guess or challenge. I am not sure if I swayed the person’s opinion nor do I really care to be honest.  You make decisions everyday, at the end of it all you can only hope you made more good than bad.

 

Me, Post-Op Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

Waiting for the call….

As 2012 began to wind down, my mobility had returned to almost normal.  Three surgeries were now a thing of the past, just a memory.  The scars from the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and DIEP flap procedures were healing nicely and the aches were improving with every day.  I began to set my sights on 2013 and a new start, one without worries about cancer risks or surgery.

Then came a visit to the gynecologist in October.  Based on the findings of lobular carcinoma in situ during the BPM, the doctor felt it would be smart to have a pelvic ultrasound due to the link between breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

On November 7, 2012, my thoughts of a worry free 2013 quickly came to an end when complex cysts were found in my right ovary.   January 14, 2013 I repeated the ultrasound hoping for improvement but found worse news.  The cyst was still there and larger, one was now also located on the left and something was seen in the lining of my uterus.  Worry free 2013 was long gone! A biopsy was performed as was a CA-125 blood test.  Both came back showing no cancer.  Instead the item on the uterine lining looked to be a polyp.  An endometrial ablation was recommended.  I decided to wait until a third ultrasound could be performed so we could make a decision about the cysts at the same time.

April 2, 2013 I went for that final ultrasound.  After I did something I do not normally do, I made a list of questions.  I was done having ultrasounds every few months and wanted to be ready for a real conversation about moving forward. Questions such as, Do we remove the cysts in the ovaries at the same time as the ablation? Do we remove an entire ovary or both?  Do we go fully radical and remove it all?

I was prepared for everything except for what came next.  The call came along with the normal pleasantries, how was our trip to Disney?  How was I feeling?  Although I do personally like my doctor, I wanted the results.  She stated with a long “WELL”, I was a bit nervous.  She continued, “the cyst on the left is gone, and the one on the right has reduced in size”. Ugh, what?  Gone?  The words swirled for a second in my head until I finally realized, this was good news!  I actually said to her, “well that is good news, right?” No more ultrasounds!  Not so good news about the uterine lining which showed a new cyst/polyp but we already knew that would not correct itself.

SO, I have a pre-op appointment at the end of May to prepare for the endometrial ablation.   My list of questions went onto the trash. In the greater scheme of where I have been and what I was expecting, a minor surgery! I would much prefer to stay out of hospitals yet, compared to the alternatives, I am pleased, and thankful!