Decisions, Decisions.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by goldenguru, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Well it has been a very long, trying couple of weeks.

    What I know for sure. They did not find any other cancer in my body. (Can I get a praise God??) So I am dealing with 1 small mass and a couple affected lymph nodes.

    When I left the surgeons office last, he said if the rest of the results were clear, he could probably do a lumpectomy and node sweep. Day surgery. Probably followed by chemo and radiation.

    I have been thinking that I would like to at least consider a bilateral mastectomy - because seriously - I don't want to do this again any time soon. We also discussed the benefits of a hysterectomy versus the Tomoxifin drug (which shuts down the ovaries).

    So I'm looking for opinions - even if they are hypothetical ones, but especially if you've faced this type of decision for real.

    I'm doing OK emotionally. It has been a VERY up and down ride. I have never spent more time on my knees, in my Bible and sitting in my hubbies lap. All good places to be I guess.

    I suspect that one of the hardest parts for me is going to be giving up the role of caregiver and having to be the recipient. I just don't know how that's gonna work for me.

    Ladies - I can't tell you how much I appreciate your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement. I have tried to explain this 'place' to people - but unless you've been a member ya just can understand.

    I appreciate you all. Hugs from my heart.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm really sorry that you have to go thru this. I have known of very succesful stories regarding breast cancer and 1 horrible one. The horrible one had these conditions: they found the lump and determined it was cancerous. The woman was around late 50's to 60yo and smoked. She was also on estrogen and medications for arthritis. The dr's spent a lot of time doing a lot of tests, therefore, no actual treatment was given for almost 6 mos. They had found that it had spread to her lymph nodes and I heard that it hadn't spread anywhere else, however, there was a suspicious "spot" on her liver or kidney or something like that. Eventually, they decided to do chemo. She had one treatment, then suffered a stroke a couple of days later and within a week had a heart attack and passed away.

    Sincerely, I'm not telling you this for you to feel worse. There are MANY success/recovery stories. But I would suggest getting a second opinion regarding treatment options, don't wait too long, and pay special attention if you have any of the other health risks along with it.

    To answer your question, I'm not sure exactly about the treatment options but if it were me and I could have a breast removed and that would almost assure me that the cancer wouldn't come back, that breast (or both) would be gone.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    GG - you've been in my thoughts. I cannot imagine having to face these kinds of choices. I do absolutely believe each of us makes the best possible choice for ourselves, our families, our lives, if we follow our hearts. I don't think there's ever an absolute so we have to be at peace with the path we choose. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job getting informed and working out what your options are. I think you will make the best decision.

    In the meantime, you and your family continue to be in my thoughts.
  4. ML

    ML Guest

    Praise God! I'm glad the c wasn't anywhere else and that you're coping as well as can be expected considering the circumstances. Adding my prayers and good thoughts in support.
  5. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I'm glad they didn't find it anywhere else.

    I had an ovarian cancer scare. I had to wait almost a week for them to remove one ovary to see if it was cancerous. Right before the surgery, the doctor told me my CA 125 number was very low and would mean it probably wasn't cancer. The doctor really thought I should just have the one ovary removed all along, but especially when he saw my CA 125 number.

    If they had just removed the one ovary, it could have been done laproscopically. Instead I had them to do the whole hysterectomy, remove both ovaries, and take a good look around while they were in there.

    Looking back, I might have been a bit hasty in my panic to do the whole thing, but I haven't ever regretted it.

    I don't know if I would do the same with breast cancer or not.

    Keeping you in my thoughts.
  6. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Thinking of you and your decisions...... you seem like you are in a good place and you are carefully considering your options....... sending any spare wisdom I have..... and lots of tender hugs........
  7. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    First of all, I'm with the others. FANTASTIC news that there is no cancer anywhere else!!!!!!!! I'm sure that was a huge relief for you.

    As for what I would do.....I had to think on this. Of course, my decision is hypothetical so take it how you will.

    With that said though....if it were me, and based on what you said here, I think I would have the mastectomy. (Bilateral means both sides, right?) I'm with you in that I wouldn't want to do this again and the mastectomy would be, I assume, the closest to a guarantee of non-recurrance you could get. Obviously there isn't a way to be 100% certain but I think this would be pretty durn close. While breasts are an important part of a woman's body, it's not all about the boobs. Besides, reconstructions have come a loooooooooong way over the years so it's not like you'll have to deal with weird bras or falsies the rest of your life.

    Reminds me...this should make you chuckle....I had a great aunt L who has since passed away but NOT from cancer. Back in, I believe, the 80's, she had breast cancer on one side and had that breast removed. She didn't have reconstruction but got a falsie instead. She HATED it and eventually just quit wearing it. Aunt L was....shall I say....blessed, so when you stood there talking to her, you would quickly realize that you were either tilting your head, leaning to one side or both. It was quite the experience. L would just stand there with a poo eating grin on her face when she saw you realized what you were doing. She was a character to say the least! LOL

    Anyway, that's my personal opinion. I'm sure you would still have to do chemo afterwards but maybe by doing the bilateral, you could avoid radiation. I have really mixed feelings about radiation.

    One more thing I'd like to say matter what treatment you decide on, and this will sound weird, have fun with it! If you do chemo and lose your hair....get some funky hats or wild wigs. Or if you're feeling particularly frisky, plaster a bunch of cool temporary tattoos on your head! You're a fighter, there's no reason to hide it! I've also seen pictures of women who had both breasts removed, did not do reconstruction and had very intricate, beautiful and meaningful tattoos (real ones) done on their chest. Granted, that may not be for everyone but I thought it was very cool. Basically, just do what you can to keep your sense of humor and your spirits up. Attitude goes a long way with how your body handles the illness and the treatments.

  8. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I had a friend send me the neatest email today about the building blocks of our DNA. It made me think of you. I tried to cut and past it here, but the picture wouldn't come with it and it's the most important part. Put the stuff in our DNA that holds us together LOOKS like a cross. Isn't that amazing? So yes....Praise Him. I'm delighted to hear all your news. I don't consider myself a holy roller, but dog goneit...when I hear news like this about a friend I could just go out and roll in the grass LIKE a dog. lol. (by the way if that's all it took? I'd roll every day for ya.)

    When I was considering a hysterectomy I found a website that was really a great help called Hyster-sisters. I don't know if it's .com or .org, but they will send you some literature for free. They have on line information as well. It was pre-surgical help, post surgical help. What to expect if you did a radical hysterectomy, what to expect if you did an ovary-only (forget the name) removal. What to expect if you only did a uterine-only removal. What to expect hormone wise..etc.

    I did have cervical cancer after Dude was born and had it all removed surgically. It wasn't as huge a deal as you are going through, but when they suspected the ductile carcinoma - I paid a lot of attention. When they told me later it was not cancer I was relieved but what it puts you through mentally (and surgically) is taxing.

    Without a doubt I see your husband stepping up and taking on responsibilities that maybe he never would have challenged himself to do. I think when all is said and done? The Guru house will heal, and be stronger and walk taller than ever. You have a lot of tough decisions ahead of you that no one would ever envy. All that strength and courage you've shown your family over the years have given them the example of how to behave in a crisis. You've shown them THIS is how the world will see our family when lesser people would fall apart. We are a testament to others. And now you know why you were able to be so brave when no one else could be. It wasn't for you - it was for THEM.

    Amazing isn't it? It's odd how that works. You think you're being so cool, and tough for yourself, showing the world how you are - and what you're really doing is teaching your family how you will expect them to handle crisis situations. What a lovely gift you've given them. Now - let them use it to support you - and let them....take care of YOU.

    And the teacher becomes the student. (isn't that what a Guru really is?) ;) - I think you're all going to be just fine.

    Hugs, Love & Continued Prayers - or rolls in the lawn - which ever strikes you best.
  9. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Kelly, my sister-in-law faced this in her early 40's. In her case, every woman in her family had died relatively young from various cancers. The type of breast cancer my sister in law had was pretty much guaranteed to *move* from one breast to the other so she ultimately had double mastectomies with reconstructive surgery. She saw it as choosing LIFE even though it was a very difficult decision.

    sister in law is now 63 and fit as a fiddle. :)

    I'm not sure why your conversation included breast surgery and a hysterectomy?

  10. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I have a friend whose mother and aunt passed away from breast cancer. When she got breast cancer, she decided to have the bilateral mastectomy. It's a very personal decision. Whatever you decide, know that our hearts and prayers are with you.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Of, my friend, you can certainly have a Praise God from me!! I am so thankful it hasn't spread.

    I don't have firsthand knowledge on this other than my Gma died from it. But she NEVER saw a doctor. I do mean never. After my aunt was born she went 30+ years not seeing a doctor. Then she started having a lotof pain. We lived out of state and my uncle had a witch of a wife who refused to let him do much for a few years. My aunt, the baby of hte family, moved back in with Gma after we all figured out Gma wasn't taking her medications. Within 2 years Gma was in a hospital bed in the dining room. But she wasn't out of her home, they had a wonderful woman who came in to sit with her whle my aunt worked and it wasn't all bad.

    IF she had gone to a doctor before that she would probably have lived a long time. but she had a good life and a lot of people who loved her deeply.

    My high school bff is now a radiation therapy specialist. She has amazing stories about how special all of her patients are.

    I can speak about the hysterectomy. I had everything including ovaries taken out. They didn't work right anyway. I have never for a single minute regretted it. I celebrate a little every month when I have no PMS and no week of misery. Dryness of all of your skin is a problem, but they have such lovely lotions that I end up feeling pampered while I use them.

    Whatever you decide a second opinion is a good idea.

    hugs and prayers lady!
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Very glad to hear that to hear that test results show no other cancer in your body!!! :D

    That hyster-sisters website is awesome!!!!! Please check it out...great information and comraderie! Please consider a second opinion on all surgeries...this goes double for a possible hysterectomy.

    Glad that you are sitting on your husband's lap....very nurturing...very cool!

    Sending you continued prayers, good thoughts, well wishes, strength and an extra dose of wisdom for help with these decisions ahead.
  13. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    How do you feel about having a bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy? The trauma to your body image is not small but I would do it in a New York minute if there was a high chance of cancer reoccuring.
    Has your doctor suggested that there is a high chance?
    I would do some research. Go to sites where there are people who has done this and why they did it.
    Very important is what are the side effects of that radical surgery vs. not having it done. Is there something half way that will give you a better than average chance of preventing cancer from coming back? What's the chances that with the surgery you won't have a reoccurance in another part? Just some questions to consider.

    It's hard to be the recipient of care when you have been a warrior mom. It's time for you to internally focus on your own care for a while. It becomes selfish to not allow those who love you to return that caring. Being the caretaker can become a power thing if it is not allowed to be reciprocated by those we love. It's certainly something I work on and I'm not facing what you are at this time. Your caretaking should be pure of intent and not something that makes you better/stronger than a family member. Don't you think? Just a thought. Everyone wants the good feelings that come with stepping up to help in a meaningful way.

    Many hugs.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im glad for you that the cancer was caught early. That is great. On the other....I would lose the boobs and the uterus in a hot second. They dont matter much in the grand scheme of things. You are much more important!
  15. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I have had large boobs, for my body frame, my whole life. If it were me, I would have the mastectomy and have new, perky boobs put in!!!!

    I had a hysterectomy at age 28. I had cervical cancer at 20 and by 28, they had to take everything in order to keep me "safe." I have never regretted that choice. I have had almost 20 years without a cycle...not something I have missed at all!!!!
  16. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    GG, I was in your shoes 9 years ago. I had the bilateral, you won't regret it. I also had an oopharectomy after they found a tumor, not cancer, but atypical cells. Thank God. I also have the BRCA 1 gene.

    I know these past few weeks have been like a whirlwind of emotions and decisions. You're a survivor, I know you'll come out the other side of this a different person. You'll be stronger, and small, silly things won't even bother you. You will apppreciate every second of your life. And some days you will even forget this happened.

    Remember this when you're going through treatment: You will get your life back. Everything will come back to normal, your hair will grow back. You can even have new boobs if you choose. When I was going through treatment, bald, and with scars on my chest, I never felt more beautiful. I was brave, like I was saving my own life. And I did it, and so will you.

    I'm a glass half full type of person. I can tell you honestly, having cancer has been a gift. Maybe in time you will feel like this as well. (((((((HUGS)))))))- Alyssa

    pm me if you want
  17. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Upallnight, You are awesome! This is beautiful:
  18. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so glad it hasn't spread! When they found cancer in my mom she decided to have a mastectomy in one breast. She never has regretted her decision and also never had to have chemo or radiation. Whatever you decide, I'll continue praying. Hugs.
  19. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    another thanking God that is has not spread.

    Since the "boob fairy" didn't bless me, having them removed would be a no brainer. I seriously doubt anyone would notice the difference!!!! But it's a personal decision only you can make.

    Best thoughts no matter what you decide.
  20. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I have no first hand experience. However my aunt is now in her 6th year cancer free. She too had a small mass and several affected lymph nodes. She considered the recommended lumpectomy as well as masectomy (for future prevention). She opted to follow the docs advice and had the lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation and it was very successful. She has had moments that she looks back and wishes she had opted for a bilateral masectomy, however as she continues to be well year after year, she is happier with her past decisions.
    I think it is truly a personal choice. Also, some women have a difficult time adjusting with breast removal, while others are perfectly content with the result. I think thats a huge factor as well. Personally I feel feminine with my breasts, but I wouldn't hesitate to do a masectomy to prevent future issues. However, I know most women would struggle afterwards with their body images etc and that is a very real fact to consider.
    This probably doesnt' help you but I wanted to share my aunts story. She is doing very well and each year that passes reduces her risk of reoccurance.
    I'm so happy that they've ruled out other locations for you and I wish you the best on your journey and will keep you in my prayers.