THE BREAST SURGERY~Part II
I was checked into the hospital for breast surgery at 7:30 AM, less than a week and a half after my core needle biopsy. The surgery again started with a trip to the mammography department, following my surgery preparation. My usual mammography technician was assisted by a second radiology tech, both of whom set me up for the radiologist. Once I was properly positioned in the mammography machine, the radiologist again took a few pictures and numbed my breast prior inserting a wire, via a large needle, into my breast tissue. The purpose of this wire is to meet up with the marker that was placed during the biopsy, and to give the surgeon the exact location of the cells to be removed. Once this wire was in place, I was taken to surgery.
I woke about an hour and a half later, ready to have a snack and go home. When I was being dressed post-surgery, I found I was wearing a sport type bra, well-padded with gauze, over and around my incision. I was told to wear it for the remainder of the day and then I could remove it at bedtime. I was also sent home with a prescription for pain relief medication and informed that ice packing was again appropriate as I felt necessary. The ordeal itself was over.
A few days later, my surgeon again called me at home to inform me the post-surgery biopsy report showed the same abnormal cells as the biopsy, but no full-blown cancer. Over the next few weeks, I was sore and tender, swollen and bruised. Sleeping was a bit problematic as finding a comfortable position wasn’t always easy. I was protective of my breast and didn’t want to be too close to anyone who could possibly bump into me. But overall, the experience wasn’t as bad as some might expect. I kept my physical activity limited and got as much rest as I could for the next few weeks.
At the three-week mark, I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon. At this appointment, he reviewed with me the likelihood that I would experience a recurrence and possible breast cancer. The verdict? There is a 20% chance that I will have breast cancer within five to twenty years. The good news? That chance can be reduced by up to half using preventative treatment, combined with good lifestyle habits. I already pass the diet and exercise test with flying colors so the only other task at hand was to give up my menopause related hormone therapy, which I had done the week of my surgery. Welcome back hot flashes, night sweats and hormone related acne! Furthermore, my surgeon ordered a six-month follow-up mammogram and appointment with him at the end of the year, and every six months thereafter, until he deems they are no longer needed. Those appointments were also already scheduled for me.
My surgeon then referred and scheduled me with an oncologist at a premier cancer center with a satellite office at the same hospital where I had my surgery—just twenty minutes from my home. Another blessing in my eyes as I need not travel out of town for my medical appointments. The last thing anyone wants to do when they are dealing with a medical issue is to deal with traffic jams, hazardous weather driving conditions and long waits in packed waiting rooms. I have the benefit of top notch care in a small-town environment, and that is stress alleviating indeed.
If you have yet to see your doctor for a breast health check-up, be sure to pick up the phone and schedule your appointment on Monday morning. It just may be the appointment that saves your life.
Live a beautiful life!