October is breast cancer awareness month.
As a “survivor” of breast cancer (or technically in my case, a cancer of the breast), I have mixed feelings about it all.
Three years ago today I had my first mastectomy for a stubborn recurrent phyllodes tumor.
On October 30, 2020 I had my second mastectomy when it came back again. I’m currently gearing up for surgery #10 as I make plans for reconstruction to bring this chapter to a close. Though thanks to my 30 radiation treatments earlier this year, that is much more complicated than usual.
I’ve heard Les Brown say before, “if you do what is easy your life will be hard, if you do what is hard your life will be easy”. After that first mastectomy at my post op my surgeon said that in one spot she didn’t get clear margins, and she could go back and remove more skin and tissue now or we could wait and see.
I opted for wait and see. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, there was no way I could face another surgery right then … but oh how I wish I had.
If I had done it then, or a few months later, or when my first reconstruction was done perhaps I wouldn’t have gone through another recurrence. And another mastectomy. And then an excruciatingly painful liver biopsy (long story, all is well). And then radiation treatments. And now trying to figure out which of the reconstruction options are right for me right now, when none of them are great.
Long story, but here’s the point … advocate for YOURSELF. Listen to how YOU feel. ASK QUESTIONS. Then ask more. And then more again. You’ll have to call and email doctor’s offices repeatedly, and chase people down. It will be exhausting and frustrating and hard, but it is infinitely easier than the alternative.
Are you a survivor or in the midst of a battle now? If you feel comfortable, comment here so we can support you.