This week I had a chance meeting with the Linda I used to work with. Being in her presence always brightened my day. That was a long time ago-over 15 years. She looked just as I remembered her and she returned that compliment to me. So there we were!
We exchanged breast cancer war stories. I had heard that she was a breast cancer survivor. Her cancer was very aggressive and she had to undergo a double mastectomy. She told me that Herceptin saved her life. It had just come on the market and without it she would not have survived. She had just passed the 4 year anniversary. She looked so healthy and so happy. She treasures each day. So do I.
My breast cancer was 15 years ago. Both of us underwent the stereotactic core biopsy which we both recalled with trepidation. Not a pleasant experience.
My cancer was detected in a mammogram. It was the pattern of calcium spots that is suspicious. So the first test was the core biopsy. It could not be pin-pointed that way and I had suffered hours of having to remain completely still while I was being probed with a needle. The end result was that I needed to have a surgical biopsy. Another long period of waiting, to find out that it was recommended that I have a total mastectomy on the right side. I did not seek a second opinion for I could not be sure which was right and I opted to do the most radical thing.
I underwent the mastectomy and reconstruction in November of 1996. The reconstruction did not go well, the skin necrosed and it had to be redone. So in 1 week I experienced 3 surgeries. My hospital stay was extended. I was grateful for the visits from friends and the cards I received.
The results from the pathology of the breast tissue and the sentinel node showed NO cancer anywhere. So I was fortunate that I did not have to have chemo or radiation or tamoxifen therapy. It was like-”hey-you lost your breast-sorry-not sure why but that’s how it is”.
To this day, I wonder if my surgical biopsy was correct but it doesn’t much matter as I have no right breast and in its place I have a scarred reconstruction. However the outcome could have been far more devastating and what other choice could I have made??