When I came home from a long day of getting my second opinion and hospital pre-registration, I felt a sense of relief. I had chosen Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and selected my surgeon and plastic surgeon. I asked them to schedule my surgery after Easter and after my husband’s graduation from nursing school later that month. Several big decisions had been made, and I felt completely satisfied with my choices. Although the long day had exhausted me, I felt a peaceful calm.
The next thing on my to-do list was to wait on the results on my genetic testing to see if I carried the BRCA gene. If I did carry the gene, I definitely would choose a double mastectomy. If I didn’t carry it, the decision would be a little more complicated. As with any medical test results, I wanted to know, but at the same time I didn’t want to know.
March 2016 was a very busy, stressful time for me. I worked at a consignment sale, which took lots of time. Sadly, the health of one of my dogs, whom had been with me 14 years, declined dramatically. I made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized. When I tell you that having her put to sleep was one of my most painful experiences, I mean it. I cried and cried. To this day, I miss her very much.
On a happy note, my husband graduated LPN school, and my daughter had spring break.
Single or Double?
Did I want a single or double mastectomy? To be honest, I didn’t want any part of a mastectomy. I liked my body as it was and didn’t want to change anything. But the reality of breast cancer remained, so a mastectomy was inevitable.
After much contemplation, and for several reasons, my decision was to have a double mastectomy. My disability, cerebral palsy, makes getting a mammogram very difficult because I have trouble sitting still. I knew they would really want an especially clear image based on my breast cancer history. I didn’t want to have to worry about a reoccurrence of breast cancer and have to go through all this again.
I was lucky that my cancer was in a very early stage. If I did end up with breast cancer on the right side, I might not be as fortunate with an easy diagnosis, and I didn’t want to put myself or my family through that again. As I said, my husband just graduated from nursing school and didn’t have a job yet, so he had ample time to help me. I also had a long line of people to help me, my pets and my two children.
I told my surgeon I had chosen to have a double mastectomy. Even though my BRAC test came back negative and I didn’t need a double, he respected my choice. Now it was time to prepare for my surgery.
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