Why A Bilateral Mastectomy (Part 1)

Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »


    Often just the shocked, wide-eyed look on a person’s face has told me what they were silently asking me, “Why would you opt to remove both breasts when only one of them has cancer? Besides, the other one that does have cancer “just” has DCIS, noninvasive cancer!” 

    Please trust me when I tell you this decision has been made with my optimal survival in mind.

Oh my! You’re gonna do whaaaaat?

    Due to my ongoing health issues of Fibormyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, I am clearly not a good candidate for radiation therapy. My head Oncologist and a Radiation Oncologist have both clearly stated this fact. I do not have a healthy enough stamina baseline to endure the fatigue issues associated with radiation therapy. Nor do I have a healthy enough immune system baseline either.
    Now throw into the radiation therapy approach my drug sensitivity issues. The usual course of radiation therapy is followed up with five years of taking Tamoxifen. This is a drug that blocks your body producing any more Estrogen. The Oncologist plainly didn’t think I was a good candidate for this drug.
     Then let’s take a good hard look at my maternal side of my family tree — it’s loaded with breast cancer cases and one ovarian cancer case, a first cousin who quickly lost her battle with the disease. Myself and the one ovarian cancer cousin are the ONLY two females on that side of the family who have NOT had a hysterectomy. This lead my breast surgeon to believe that the hysterectomies are probably why there aren’t more cases of ovarian cancer on this side of my family tree.
    My breast surgeon has repeatedly stated, “there’s something to your family history. It can’t be overlooked.” I’m opting not to overlook it — I’m opting to leave cancer with only a 10% chance, per breast, to ever manifest it’s ugliness within my body ever again.
    My survival rate will skyrocket up to 90% per breast removal. Why leave a potentially ticking cancer time bomb hanging off of my body, the one without cancer right now?
    Why gamble with “if” the currently cancer free breast should ever get cancer in the future, that it will “just” be DCIS, next time? If malignant cancer did indeed show up next time? How would I be able to withstand chemotherapy when it’s already been clearly established I’m not a good enough candidate for the lesser course of treatment options, radiation therapy?
    So, for me, it was a no-brainer … fight back as hard as I can right now, remove both breasts now, do a bi-lateral mastectomy now. I know if I didn’t remove the left breast now, and cancer did indeed show up later down the road? I’d forever be kicking myself with regret for not having had the chutzpah to do what I knew was the right thing to do when I had the opportunity to do so at this point in time in my life. Say bye bye to my left breast too.
    I have very, very few regrets in my life. The bi-lateral decision came down to, this is one regret that I am not willing to have in my life. Nor am I willing to put my loved ones, nor myself, through what we’ve already been through with my having “just” DCIS in the right breast.

    Remove both breasts now. Knock me down once with one major surgery to have to recover from. Approaching my cancer management this way also gives me an even keeled reconstruction recovery route to have to navigate through — both breasts being reconstructed at the same rate. Doing a bi-lateral now, instead of just a mastectomy, saves me and my loved ones the chance of maybe years later down the road, having to go through this hell all over again.
    I am fighting back to survive this disease with every available tool I have. The bi-lateral mastectomy decision required doing some brutally honest reality checks and harnessing my fear into motivation to embrace logic … This is one of my ways of spitting in the eye of cancer, of surviving.

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3 Comments on “Why A Bilateral Mastectomy (Part 1)”

  1. 1 jayedee said at 12:40 am on September 29th, 2010:

    when i grow up, i wanna b e just like you! you're my hero, yanno!

  2. 2 Kaiku said at 1:31 am on September 30th, 2010:

    The Universe gave us the ability to use logic to deduce and conclude a reasonable course of action. The Reality of Fibromyalgia cannot be overlooked, and reality with a healthy dose of Brutal honesty makes for a clear cut decision..fire rooster style!

  3. 3 Chérie said at 12:48 pm on September 30th, 2010:

    Jayedee? I pray you NEVER grow up — you're "perfect" just the way you are! lol

    Kaiku — spoken like a true Fire Rooster! Thank you for allowing me to bounce off of your brain.

    Snoopy Girl — thanks for listening to my cancer verbal vomit the past few weeks. You rock, Sistah!