Hey everyone- hope you’re all having a good week! I had a few people text me about the results of my MRI & surgery consult so I figured I better update you!
I did my MRI two weeks ago and they took images with and without contrast. The good news is that the mass that was present on the ultrasound did not “light up” on the MRI so we’re hopeful that small mass is just scar tissue rather than residual cancer cells. However, we will not know for sure until the mass is removed and sent to pathology after surgery.
I met with my surgeon on Monday, and we agreed to go forward with breast-conserving surgery (aka “lumpectomy”). She will also do a sentinel lymph node biopsy to be sure there is no cancer in the lymph nodes. We are planning for surgery on November 27 as long as my pesky white blood cell count comes back up – it was really low last week again. I better enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner because no eating after midnight!
From what I know now, I’ll check in early in the morning and will have a radioactive dye injected into my left breast. The dye traces the circulation from the tumor itself to the lymph nodes. The surgeon will then remove the first node to which the tumor drains as well as any other lymph nodes which may contain cancer cells.
Once the nodes are removed, they are sent to pathology to determine how many contain cancerous cells. If there are cancerous cells in a majority of the nodes, the surgeon may choose to remove additional nodes while I’m still under anesthesia. Otherwise, she will remove the mass and that will be that!
The recovery should be relatively “easy” as I should only have 2 small incisions and no precautions or drains like I would have if I opted for a mastectomy with reconstruction. I should mention that I’m not choosing a mastectomy for several reasons:
- I do not have a BRCA gene mutation, therefore my risk of a local recurrence and my overall cancer survival rate is not affected by choosing a more conservative surgery.
- As a rehab professional, I am well aware that a mastectomy is a MAJOR surgery, and the recovery is more difficult and the healing timeline can be longer.
- Had I chosen mastectomy, I would have likely chosen to have reconstruction as well which would require multiple additional surgeries & I just don’t have the energy for all of that!
Breast-conserving surgery is my personal choice based on what I know about my cancer now. There are many reasons why someone else would choose a mastectomy. Everyone’s situation is very different so just because this seems to be the right option for me doesn’t mean it’s the right (or best) option for someone else.
I will need radiation after surgery as well and I’ll be referred to a radiation oncologist to determine the plan. I’m also going to see my PT colleague for pre-operative lymphedema measures so I have a baseline to compare to after surgery.
My hair and eyebrows are growing in nicely! In fact, I can almost make a baby mohawk. For 3 weeks post-chemo, I’m pretty excited about that! With my eyelashes growing in, my eyes have become super irritated, but I will be SO thankful to have lashes again! I miss mascara!
If you have any questions for me about surgery, lymphedema risk, or anything related to breast cancer or physical therapy – leave a comment for me below!
Hop you all have a great weekend! My mom will be here in two days! How lucky am I?!