I think the surgeon thought I was a little crazy as she was telling me the results of my pathology report stating the two tumors that were removed and the fact that they do not know if anymore remain in my breast and even where specifically these tumors came from. So, my case now officially became rare and complex. Within 30 minutes I was driving from one hospital to another to meet with the breast surgeon in the Breast Care Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN. This surgeon was waiting for me to go over all of my options.
I called a friend frantically asking for her to take my daughter after school and that I was just told I have breast cancer. I then called my husband and asked him to meet me at the Breast Center in 15 minutes. As we sat in the small sterile examination room, the doctor walked in and was all of my age and introduced herself as "Amy". She said she does not like to go by Dr. or even her last name. I felt a bit at ease, but continued to hold back the tears as this was all so surreal.
Amy, as she likes to be called, sat with Mike and I for almost 2 hours. She explained my type of cancer (DCIS), what that means and options of treatment. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a common non-invasive breast cancer that is found in the milk ducts of the breast. Non-invasive means that it cannot and will not spread to lymph nodes and is not considered terminal. Whew!
I was told that possible treatments for DCIS include:
Tamoxifen - and estrogen suppressing medication - since estrogen feeds cancer cells - that I would take for five years
Radiation - to my entire right breast - since they have no clear margins or idea where the cancer came from
Alternating mammograms and MRIs every six months to look for cancer
Mastectomy - partial or bilateral with or without reconstruction
My first reaction was to ask Amy, if I was crazy to think about just removing the breasts right now and hopefully never have to worry about breast cancer again. She said that was a very natural reaction and completely within the scope of treatment options if I so choose. Of course, at this point I was only 10 tens into the healing process from my breast reduction surgery that Mike was like, whoa maybe we should slow down and think about all of this.
After almost two hours of listening to Amy tell us all about DCIS, treatments and coming up with a plan to heal for 2 months and then have a breast MRI, Mike and I left the office in shock. I wasn't sure what to do or say to anyone at this point, but I did feel better knowing that I was not given a certain amount of time left to live and I wasn't facing chemotherapy at this point.
The next month would be full of appointments with my plastic surgeon, an oncologist, a radiation oncologist and eventually a genetic specialist. I plan to take the summer to heal and wait for the results of my upcoming breast MRI.