Steve and I met with my surgeon yesterday, Dr. Jessica Deree. After much discussion and deliberation, we decided that I would have a single mastectomy as well as removal of my lymph nodes on my right side. The surgery is scheduled for April 14. During the appointment, as previously reported, we learned that my cancer is approximately 25% of its original size. I left Kaiser walking a little lighter and feeling like a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. It was a great day.
I have always liked Dr. Deree, but as we were discussing the possibility of a bilateral mastectomy, I had requested and received a second opinion. We liked him too (Dr. Ditmars). I also talked quite a bit to my American Cancer Society Reach Counselor and also learned a great deal through the research of Kelly and Darin. (Sorry for kind of late night call, Kelly!) We were prepared.
Still, as Dr. Deree explained her recommendations, I began to get scared. It was real. However, by the end of our discussion, I was even more convinced that Dr. Deree was the right surgeon for me. Her recommendations seemed to be truly in my best interest. She did not tell me her plan; she presented options. Good options.
It is important to note that while my tumor has shrunk approximately 75%, it is currently disk-shaped and flat. Since the tumor was initially the size of a golf ball and is located at the very top of my breast, it is easy to envision why a lumpectomy or a quadrantectomy (basically a larger lumpectomy) is not a desirable option. Plus, neither of these options ensures that the maximum amount of the cancer and/or micro-disease can be removed.
So my best option is mastectomy. Because I am a candidate for radiation post-surgery, re-construction cannot occur at the time of surgery. Instead, the tentative plan is to have re-construction once I am healed from radiation. At this time, they will remove my other breast and re-construct both during the same surgery. Overall, this is a much less painful/traumatic surgery for me now and ensures that I will be the happiest with the results of reconstruction when all is said and done. The whole process will take up to year.
Dr. Deree also referred me to plastic surgery for a consultation. While the consultation is not really necessary before surgery, from what I have learned, I would feel better about having it. Dr. Deree is trying to make this happen for us.
What now? We are going to Disneyland! Steve is on Spring Break and tomorrow, the kids are flying as "unaccompanied minors" to see Darin and Kelly in Portland for the weekend. On Friday, Steve and I are heading out! I am really excited to celebrate this milestone at the Happiest Place on Earth...because really, I am the happiest I have been in a long time.