Bullhead12's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Prefer not to answer/not applicable/unsure, Diagnosed: almost 6 years ago, Female, Age: 62, HER2 Positive: Don't Know, ER Positive: Don't Know, PR Positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    about 5 years ago
    Bullhead12's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I was retiring on 11/30/11 and my last day of work was 11/7. I had a mammogram in October and received a call that I would need to come back in for another test. I scheduled appt. for 11/8 (to avoid taking time off work) and was advised after my digital mammo that it showed a very suspicious area that wasn't there on my 2010 mammo's. As I had been through a prior lumpectomy in my other breast, I wasn't too concerned although that was a pre-cancerous condition at that time. I was advised to contact a surgeon to have a biopsy. I saw the surgeon the next week and was scheduled for a biopsy the next week. I still was not overly concerned until I saw the screen during the biopsy and there were microcalcifications in a very wide area. I became very concerned but had to wait for the pathology report. As the first lab sent a report that was very tentative and inconclusive, my surgeon sent for a new path report from John Hopkins. They were very definitive of a diagnosis of a stage 0 to 1 breast cancer and the area needed to be removed. What a way to start my retirement.

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  2. 2
    about 5 years ago
    Bullhead12's Avatar

    Whether to have another lumpectomy and take my chances, OR have a bilateral mastectomy and pretty much guarantee my results.

    Decision Point

    A decision I dwelled on every minute of every day. I was on the internet, reading articles, reading books, talking to others who had done both surgeries, conferring several times with both of my doctors, discussing with my friends and family. In the end it came down to what I wanted for me in the future and that was to have a very minimal worry about breast cancer again in my life. I felt we caught it very early and I was lucky but felt I couldn't wonder about the next time. Bilateral mastectomy with immediate implants worked for me.

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  3. 3
    about 5 years ago
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    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    After lengthy meetings with my surgeon, long conversations with friends, family, and consideration of my family history, I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy, instead of a lumpectomy. For me, I felt and still feel that this was the best decision. For years, I would have to have repeat mammograms and sometimes ultrasounds as my breast were very, very dense. There always seemed to be a shadow or the pictures weren't definitive enough. I waited for that phone call every time I had a mammo and stressed until the final results were in. Believe me, this was not an easy decision as I knew a lumpectomy was a short recovery time and the mastectomy would be a lengthy recovery. Luckily, my surgeon and the plastic surgeon were fabulous. We discussed all options inside and out and over and over until I felt comfortable. They never made me feel like I was wasting their time. They always took my phone calls and answered any questions that I had. Never did they offer their advice as to what they felt I should do until after I had made the decision to have the mastectomy and they both agreed that they felt I was making the right decision for me based on all of our conversations. My husband was right there beside me all of the way. I was lucky in that my DCIS was still non-invasive so I had the the time to research and make my decision. Also, my surgeon was doing a tissue sparing mastectomy and my plastic surgeon agreed that he would immediately place my implants in so I did not have to go through the tissue stretching. Of course, if my pathology report came back positive, I would have to have them removed but both were pretty sure that they would be able to remove all of the cancer which was in my milk ducts AND I would not require radiation or tamoxifen. The surgery went as we had expected and I stayed in the hospital for two days. This is an extensive surgery and requires a lengthy period of recovery. You have drains from each side and bulbs that hang from the front to catch the liquid that your body will be excreting. They must be emptied and measured every day and a log kept so the doctor can determine when it is appropriate to remove the drains. My drains were in for almost a month. Once the drains are removed, it is a little easier to function but you still cannot use your arms for anything except very minimal movement. It does get easier from there as you don't have the drains to deal with and movement becomes easier. I had my mastectomy in 1/2012, an additional plastic surgery in 5/12 and have temporarily suspended having my nipple formed and tattooed until winter as I need time to not be recuperating. I definitely know that I made the right decision for me. It's not for everyone and if you are thinking about it, make sure you are real comfortable with your surgeon and plastic surgeon as they can make all the difference.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  4. 4
    about 5 years ago
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    Allergic reaction

    Side Effects

    I don't do well with narcotic pain killers so had some issues to begin with but was given an anti-nausea which helped me tolerate the drugs better. Also, severe back spasms for which they gave me a muscle relaxer but I am apparently allergic to it because my whole body was covered with itchy hives. I took the pain killers faithfully for the first three days at home and then only as needed which was at night as your sleep position is restricted and the pain seems to escalate.

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  5. 5
    about 5 years ago
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    Body part/function

    Loss

    Although my experience was through my own choice, there is still a feeling of loss when you have both of your breasts removed. Although I immediately had implants, I still felt somewhat depressed over what was happening with my body. As I began to heal and became more comfortable with my new breasts ( smaller than my own by my choice) I put away that feeling of loss and was thankful that I was so OCD about my yearly mammograms. My cancer was caught very early and I was able to take my time to make the best decision for me.

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