Ok, I'll cut to the chase first and then explain after -- I found a breast cancer surgeon who will attempt a nipple and skin sparing mastectomy.
I think I'm in shock.
When you have breast cancer surgery, whether it's a simple lumpectomy or a full mastectomy, they test all kinds of stuff for microscopic cancer cells while you are literally open on the operating table...your lymph nodes, the margins of the tumor & surrounding tissue, etc. Well, in a nipple-sparing mastectomy they would just test the tissue behind the nipple in the same way. If there is any cancer there, then off the nipple goes -- it can't be saved.
So clearly this if very simple, right?
Yet I've been unable to find a doctor willing to do this ostensibly because one of my tumors is a couple centimeters away from the areola. That doesn't mean there's cancer in my nipple/areola, just that there could be. So why would you remove what might be a perfectly innocent nipple without just testing it first, why remove it if you didn't have to? Again, this seems VERY simple to me.
It's simple to this doctor today too :)
He'll biopsy the cells behind my nipple. If there's cancer, bye-bye nipple. Yeah, that'll suck, but what a huge freaking difference to mourn the devastating loss of a CANCEROUS nipple instead of one that might have been perfectly healthy!
Also, the nipple might not survive after surgery -- that happens sometimes. It would be very sad but again, at least it had a fighting chance.
After the surgery all the tissues removed or sampled are further tested more extensively...that could reveal there was cancer in the nipple after all. I'd have to go back and have it removed. That would be crappy as well, but again, I'd be saying goodbye to a CANCEROUS nipple, not a healthy one.
Finally, the nipple won't have the same sensation anymore. It will react to temperature and touch, but it probably won't do much beyond that. Sad, but better than nothing.
This doctor doesn't recommend trying to conserve my breast because he thinks it is too risky cancer-wise, so it's not like he's careless and willing to leave malignant body parts on me.
Now the trick is to find a plastic surgeon willing to resist the temptation to nip and tuck my boobs into smithereens so I can win a wet T-shirt contest, lol. I need a PS just like the beloved one at the other hospital who was willing to make me a saggy old ta-ta to match it's mate. In all seriousness, if I can't find a plastic surgeon to replicate my existing breast then that means I could end up with two non-functioning nipples after they get done messing with Lefty...kinda defeats the purpose of saving the right nipple. So while there's hope, I'm only halfway there.
But it's better than what I had just yesterday :)