When you get cancer, the thought of it coming back or a new one forming becomes perpetually haunting. Since I made the decision to keep my breasts and went through with the lumpectomy, I have second guessed myself. My reasons for wanting a lumpectomy were always obvious to me. Less chance of surgical complications. Shorter recovery time. Ability to remain physically active. The option to breast feed if I am able to/want to. Retain nerve sensation. My reasons for considering mastectomy were only 1… second primary cancer. After learning that I don’t have any genetic mutation to significantly boost the chances of that, it seemed almost silly to do it. In my book, fear should not be the deciding factor in any major decision.
I belong to a Facebook group with other young women who have/had breast cancer. What I see is that the vast majority of them opt for double mastectomy. Some do it because they had to for reasons like the BRCA mutation or multiple tumors. But other women with stage 1a cancer (like me) with no genetic factor also opt for the more aggressive surgery. When you see everyone else doing something, it has a similar effect to when you’re sitting at your first high school party and everyone, except you, is drinking alcohol. You feel the peer pressure to do what everyone else is doing. It’s no different with this surgical decision. I see everyone remove their breasts and go through reconstruction and I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing… until today.
After today’s chemo was finished, my wonderful, sparkly, angel of an oncologist came in to meet with me. We went over my blood counts, discussed how I’ve been doing, and got onto the subject of the surgical options. I expressed my confusion to her and the pressure I feel about having made the wrong choice. She then referenced THREE recent, valid, large studies that determined that the survival rate for lumpectomy + radiation was higher than mastectomy. She reassured me that I made a good choice and the relief I felt was immeasurable!
At my first high school party I didn’t cave into the peer pressure to have a drink. I’ll be going against the norm again with this choice. I guess I never was much of a follower (a goody two shoes, maybe).
So the plan goes: 2 more rounds of chemo, 6 weeks of radiation, hormone therapy for ten years, no more cancer.
4 down. 2 to go.