Friday, January 29, 2010

1/29/79

Whoever thought I would be spending my 31st birthday trying to decide whether or not to keep my breasts?

Yesterday, I received the news that my margins were unclear again. The area of DCIS (which is pre-invasive cancer) turned out to be over 3cm, despite only showing up as 3 millimeters on the MRI/mammo/etc. I now have to at least go back for a 2nd re-excision surgery (surgery #3), and consider getting a mastectomy. If I got the 2nd re-excision and margins were clear, I'd need to follow that with radiation. If I chose mastectomy instead, I would not need radiation. It's a huge, difficult decision. I know that most people think I should take the route of re-excision + radiation, because mastectomy is "so extreme." But it worries me that there was so much DCIS in my breast that was unable to be detected through imaging. It makes me wonder what other cancer might be in my breast, or even the other one, that can't be detected by anything other than surgery. I also wonder, would 6 weeks of daily radiation truly be less physically dangerous/damaging to my health than mastectomy? Is mastectomy only seen as OMG SO EXTREME because of its emotional effects?

There are a gazillion thoughts inside of me, but I don't want to blog about my reasons for and against mastectomy. For once, it's a topic that just feels too personal for the blog. I have to think more first, just by myself.

Despite the unrealness of spending my 31st birthday trying to decide whether to keep my breasts or not, I have also had a wonderful time with friends and family today. I had plenty of laughing fits, and also was in tears of gratitude over the outpouring of love I received from so many people...phone calls, emails, FB messages, e-cards, snail mail cards, surprise gifts! I am so blessed to have such amazing friends and family and people who love me. Life is GOOD. And it will KEEP being good.

8 comments:

  1. my eyes just filled with tears. britta, i love you so much. i wish i could just hug you. everything will be okay. life is good. you will get through this. whatever decisions you make will be the right decisions for YOU and that's all that matters. i will email you soon. at work now. -- xoxo T

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  2. Sending you lots of hugs and good wishes.

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  3. I love you babe, and that is a fucking hard decision.

    at least if they remove ALL of it, there's no radiation or chemo...

    But- i dunno. I'm not sure how attached you are to them. There are lots of flat chested people who look beautiful. If they are making you sick... and you have to get rid of them... so be it. You will not stop being Britta. Your body will still be beautiful (and strong :) )

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  4. hey britta! it's interesting, i think of mastectomy as "extreme" only because of the large surface area of skin and underlying muscle involved...certainly not as an emotional thing...i really, really want you to be able to do trapeze! and your pull-ups! and everything you want to do, without having to wait through a long recovery period, or go through any more pain. i hope you don't have to do it, but of course i respect your decision--whatever you decide-- 100%! wishing you well today, and hope you are getting some sunshine! xo Cathryn

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  5. As far as my opinion goes, I don't consider mastectomy as "extreme" as some may. Yes, it has serious social consequences. It may play with your gender identity a bit (though something tells me your gender identity would only be adapted to the change in your body.) As far as medical procedures go, though, chemo takes a toll on your whole body and radiation can also leave you weak and feeling ill. Surgery after surgery is expensive, annoying, and keeps you from doing the things you love. Perhaps, for you, these options are actually more extreme than removing your breasts.

    I think you're absolutely gorgeous. I also think you would be just as beautiful without breast(s). Seriously hot. Just as smart, funny, and strong-willed as ever. Your breasts are a part of you, for sure, but they don't make you who you are. I support whatever decision you ultimately choose.

    ~Myrtle

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  6. i love the comment that you will be just as smart, funny, and strong-willed as ever. so true! i have a feeling that even though whatever option you choose will change you in some way (emotionally, physically, spiritually), all the things i love about britta will blaze on through. but i'm sorry you have to make this big, hard decision. freaking margins! i'm so glad you have love and laughter and gratitude on your bday despite the bad news.

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  7. wow...thank you, friends. i love you. decisions are so hard for me, and your support means a lot!

    just to be clear, getting a mastectomy (i'd choose to have them both removed) would eliminate the need for radiation, but not effect my need for chemo or hormone therapy. radiation only targets the cancer cells in the breast, thus, no breast = nothing to radiate. but cancer and hormone therapy are systemic; their purpose is to kill/prevent cancer in the rest of your body. it's unlikely that an oncologist would even recommend chemo in my situation, though, given the small size and early stage of my tumor, and my negative lymph nodes.

    i love myself and my body, with or without breasts... this i know. i really just want to do whatever proves to be best for my physical health. and i'm tempted to say, i want to go with whichever option gets me back on trapeze the quickest, but maybe what i mean is i want whichever option will keep me trapezing for years and years to come. if that's even possible to figure out, and if one option is really better than the other in that regard. OH SO CONFUSING.

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  8. B--I'm so horrified. I'm so sorry. I'm so loving you right now. That is such a hard decision to make. Know that your body will tell you what is best. Plenty of people have survived and gone on to live healthy lives after radiation. Plenty of people have also had masectomys and gone on to live healthy lives. You'll know what is right in your heart. My advice? Meditate, with some close goddesses and herbs that know you well. Ask for guidance. It may take a few tries, but the answers will come to you eventually.

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