Women’s Voices is an opportunity to hear from women in our community about their health experiences. This is the sixth installment of Kathy’s Story. You can find the earlier posts here.
I was in quite a bit of shock after the pathology report came in. It turns out that had we not made the decision to remove the right breast as a preventative measure, my surgeon said I would almost certainly have died of invasive breast cancer. So, in that regard, I am blessed.
There was no cancer in the lymph nodes. There was invasive cancer in both breasts and I would be needing radiation. There was a tiny bit of micro invasion within the large DCIS tumor. I was told that I may need chemotherapy or hormone therapy. I was strongly hoping that it’d be the latter. I wasn’t sure about how reconstruction works in the midst of all of this, but was hoping to avoid backtracking in any way, if possible. I really wanted to keep going with things as planned.
We saw the reconstruction surgeon a few days later to “pump them up” quickly in preparation for the saline implants. We had an appointment with the oncologist after that, but hoped he could see me sooner, given the surprising findings. Other than that, I was just still recovering from surgery with my strong hubby and dumb puppy by my side.
The appointment was moved up. Phew. It was hard to wait for more information! Here is what we were told: While the surgeon could not get a clear margin, the oncologist did not feel that the benefit of radiation outweighed the risk. He planned to bring my case to other doctors for consultation, but if the tumor characteristics were favorable, I would most likely have only hormone therapy and oophorectomy ‑ by choice. So my treatment plan looked fabulous, so far.
And then finally, finally, finally: I got the tubes out, hooray! It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I was so glad they were gone ‑ 13 days was plenty. We then went to the oncologist who asked me why in the world I wasn’t having radiation. My odds of recurrence with mastectomy and Tamoxifen combined are 7 percent, and the odds with those two plus radiation are 1 percent. My case is still going to the “tumor board,” but it looks like this isn’t going to be a simple as I thought. I wasn’t sure when everything will start, but the other two surgeries ‑ removal of my ovaries and tubes, and the rest of my breast reconstruction ‑ would be timed around this.