Appointments and Info Galore This Week, by Caroline

Nov 5

Busy week with lots of appointments to get everything lined up. This week started out with a MRI. All I can really say about that is, Ativan all the way! I have never taken any anti-anxiety medicine, but Ativan did the trick. For someone who gets claustrophobic in a crowded elevator, I was more nervous about GETTING the MRI, than the results!  I repeat, Ativan all the way! Totally chill through all the noise and being encapsulated. No worries!

And the results? Fortunately, only the one little cancer spot. No obvious lymph node involvement and nothing in the right breast. Good news!

A little humor for you. My plastic surgeon (Dr. Greg MacKay) when he saw my boobs: “Oh, good! You have small breasts! They will be easy to work with!” At first, I started to get offended, but my self talk was, “Caroline, he JUST told you that is a good thing, so shut up!” Never knew that having had the life sucked out of my breasts by nursing three children would be a plus. Of course, he added, “I assume you will want a lift too?” HA! I tried so hard not to laugh out loud as I said, “Yes, please.” OMG! Then when he told me that he would probably need to use some fat from a different  part of my body to make it look natural, I asked if that could be from my tummy. Well, just to let you know, the answer is no. That is not the best fat to use for this. Outer thigh is better. Who knew hip fat was better fat?

The bottom line from my plastic surgery consult was – my doctor is awesome. Does this all the time. He was VERY frank about the complications that can result. 25-50% complication percentage when you weigh in every little thing that can go wrong. That is a LOT! No driving for 4-6 weeks post-op. WHAT? That sounds extreme, but I sure don’t want to mess anything up. Oh- and no grocery shopping. Yes, that is what he said. Because he knows women; we tend to carry too many bags in at a time, etc. No exercise for 4-6 weeks. I might go crazy on that one.

Genetic screening… Got results back. The nine genes that point directly to breast cancer were negative. Good news! I have one particular gene that is tied to some other cancers. However, with solid preventative care and annual testing, it sounds like they are mostly easy to detect early. Just need to stay on top of getting the testing done annually. Am also going to consider a total hysterectomy down the road due to the types of cancers this is linked to. But one thing at a time. And need to have my kids tested so that they can be proactive. One example, this particular gene increases the likelihood of colon cancer by 15-20%, so they recommend that if you have this gene, you get an annual colonoscopy starting at age 25 instead of 50. That’s a significant difference in care because of having this knowledge. One cool thing… the lab (Invitae) that did my genetic testing will test my kids for free for 90 days. I think that is pretty darn awesome! Honestly, at the end of my call with the genetic counselor, I felt blessed to be positive for only one of the 49 cancer-related genes!

My appointment with Dr. Amerson, my breast specialist went well. She is so reassuring that this is a “nice” cancer (small and slow growing). She will be conservative but thorough with what lymph nodes will need to be taken out, if any.  This appointment confirmed for me that I am doing the right thing by having a double mastectomy. I have a nice cancer this time. There are a lot of women who have an aggressive form. I don’t want to be one of those down the road because I took the easy way out with a lumpectomy.

Surgery is scheduled for Nov 5 at Northside. I will spend one night in the hospital. A little over 2 weeks away. I’m ready to get it behind me.

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