So, the nurse from the hospital where I had my MRI called and said that unfortunately it showed further "suspicious lesions" in the affected breast. The good news is that my other breast was clear, so Lefty, as I've nicknamed her, gets to stay.
If I am still considering breast conservation (formerly known as a lumpectomy) then I need to have an ultra sound of these lesions. Assuming for moment they can find them on the u/s, it will immediately and definitively be clear if they are just cysts. If not, they still might be nothing but will have to be biopsied -- the same way my original lumps were, with a core needle procedure (numb the breast, u/s guided needle takes a piece for pathology).
Okay, now, let's say they can't find them using ultrasound, which does happen. Then I will need to do what's known as an MRI needle biopsy. It's more of an ordeal just by virtue of being slid in and out of an MRI machine a few times, but otherwise it's pretty much what it sounds like. If you want a great description check out this post at Brenda's Blog From Paraguay -- Brenda is a fabulous writer and describes her experience vividly.
Alternatively, during any of these procedures I can always say stop, let's just do a mastectomy and forget all this testing.
But I'm not going to do that -- even though I am now leaning more than ever towards having a mastectomy.
Well, because, if there is further cancer in my breast, especially if it's in a different area, then it's pretty clear breast conservation is no longer a viable option. Which ultimately means that the day I walk in to a hospital to have them remove my breast there will be no doubt whatsoever that I'm doing the right thing. Sure, I could assume I am choosing wisely just by there being something else suspicious in there, but that's not the same as knowing. Knowing might actually bring me more peace.
I could also find out it's completely nothing...but I may still be leaning towards mastectomy because of these MRI results.
Imagine if I chose breast conservation w/radiation and I got this same MRI result a couple years from now. I'd probably be kinda freaked. Still, the survival rate for breast conservation vs. mastectomy is the same -- reason being, if you get a recurrence after breast conservation you are SO carefully monitored they can find it early, and then they just go back and do a mastectomy. Again, let me stress -- long term survival for either lumpectomy w/radiation OR mastectomy are the same.
So, what's the problem then, some might say...why not keep your breast for now and worse case scenario you lose it later? Well, one problem is the cosmetic result doesn't always turn out as good once you have scars, asymmetry, and radiation damage, depending on individual circumstances. The other problem is some women could feel like they were living their life as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. Depends on the person, the unique cosmetic possibilities, and the individual importance applied to either.
I find myself thinking lately that when this is over I'd like it to be as over as possible...I mean, it will always be with me one way or the other, even if I never saw my reflection in the mirror I'd know it in my being. But the more often I can put this experience behind me, or at least to transcend and transform it, the better. Which decision will help me personally do that is what I am grappling with. My breast may just be letting me off the hook now and making the decision for me.
I'll have the ultra sound next week...then I'll take it one step at a time, but I will be taking each step available to me because I have to know. That's just how I am.
As I mentioned in my previous post I have some more docs to see, plastic surgeons, but will update asap. Heaps of love & gratitude...always & forever!
PS: It was one month ago today I was officially diagnosed with cancer.