why I chose to have my breast tissue removed
This is my journey through Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomies. Or in my kids terms “they’re gonna cut my Mom’s boobs off so she doesn’t get cancer like her Mom did.” Don’t freak out, I’ve explained it much more thoroughly than that to them. We can get into all that later.
There are so many blogs on this that have helped me tremendously. I decided to document my journey to return the help in that way. Another reason is due to the feedback and misunderstanding I’ve experienced lately. I respect each persons choice in the matter and realize that this decision is huge and not for everyone. What I’ve experienced seems to come from a lack of knowledge on the topic and hopefully I’ll be another small voice helping to educate.
My Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 29 years old. She had a mastectomy of her left breast, chemo and radiation. We all thought she was going to be ok after that. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to 8 of her lymph nodes and the doctors gave up hope. After that she tried an herbal treatment for a while and even took trips to Mexico for IV treatments not approved in the US. She lost her battle August 19th 1996 at just 32 years old. At that time she had a 14-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter and 9-year-old daughter.
She was in a hospital bed on a morphine pump and could not speak, eat or drink. She didn’t know who any of us where and was in excruciating pain. Remembering those being her words I can still hear her voice say them in my mind. I helped my family take care of her by brushing her hair, reading and singing to her. We took small sponges on the end of what looked like a sucker stick, dipped them in water and pressed them against the inside of her cheek since she could not drink. I helped turn her fragile body on her side to bathe her while she cried in pain. There is no word worthy to describe the experience of watching your mother die.
I’m giving you such a small glimpse into my story in order to explain my passion and fears on the topic of breast cancer. My mother was incredible! She helped my brother, sister and I say goodbye. Told us not to question God and fully believed in his plan for her and us. She and my Dad told us what was going to happen through each step. She showed us her mastectomy scar and let us touch it. We saw her wigs and her prosthetic that went into her bra.
I remember with immense heartache the day they sat us down to tell us Mom was getting a morphine pump because she was hurting so badly. They said that she might not remember us after a while. I despised that pump. At 12 years old Mom in pain or Mom not knowing who we are just isn’t a fair choice. I can play the day she died in my mind like a movie. It was not even a month after my 13th birthday at 4:20pm. When Dad carried her body down the stairs, she was around 75-lb. I Never Ever want my children to know what that looks like or how it makes you feel inside.
mammograms started at age 18 for me. I was told I have very dense breast tissue (http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/dense_breasts) and that they wanted to rotate mammogram/ultrasound every 6 months. If you have never had to do this let me tell ya, it’s a lot to keep up with. On my 29th Birthday I had 3 biopsies. Two biopsies were under ultrasound and one under MRI. That was not a fun Birthday, ouch! All biopsies came back fine and they put markers in my breast to mark the places. A year and a half later I found a lump on my left breast toward my armpit area. This is the same area my Mom found her cancer. Talk about being scared, this girl!
They decided that was a swollen lymph node. Four months later I could see the lump in the mirror where as before I could only feel it. I decided to have it checked again. They told me it had only grown a 10th of a centimeter and still it is a swollen lymph node and they don’t remove those. Needless to say the emotional toll all of this has had on me is great. Every time I go for a mammo/ultrasound/MRI I’m scared to death. I’ve always felt it’s a matter of when I get breast cancer not if. Sitting in that room waiting for results and it’s all I can do not to cry. I normally push people away and keep it all to myself so I can be strong and not lose it. Plus I passionately hate pity.
So, At this point in my life I am 30 years old. There are 2 small kids that are the beat of my heart and 2 stepchildren that live with their Father but also have all my love. I work full-time as a 911 Dispatcher and love my job. I did BRCA genetic testing 6 years ago and am an uninformed negative. I’ll explain what that means later. A Genetic Counselor established that I am high risk due to family history and she is completely on board with my decision to have PBM. I have been considering and researching this procedure for two years now and have finally decided this is what I want. My surgeon and plastic surgeon have decided the surgery will be the first week in September. My plan is to blog you through my journey in hopes it may help someone else.