I woke up on this Thursday sick to my stomach. I had a full day of doctors starting with the first plastic surgeon I would see. It would be the first appointment where my bf could not make it so the day started off feeling a little incomplete.
It was a cold, windy day so I took an uber down to my parents hotel which was conveniently located by the hospital we would be going to. I remember ordering a cappuccino and a bagel. Normally I didn’t eat carbs like that often but when I was diagnosed, I completely stopped giving a fuck about anything like that. How could I care?
We walked into the office we were going to and it made me somewhat uncomfortable that I was in a plastic surgeons office about to discuss my breasts. Sure, I had thought about getting a breast reduction in the past but this was not that. I was not there electively and I was not happy about it. They handed me over a pamphlet of options which made me feel uncomfortable. It was a different protocol then the elective stuff. I got a little anxious thinking about what the potential cost of this would be. They couldn’t charge me right? This was not my choice. I knew that I DID NOT want breast implants. The idea just seemed ridiculous.
I filled out what felt like 83 pages of paper work and waited for my name to be called. I couldn’t sit still so I paced around the waiting room, noticing every detail around me and feeling like I did not belong there. They called me back and my Dad decided to stay behind until I had been examined. My Mom came back with me and I met with the NP. She was sweet, made me feel comfortable and told me that the Surgeon I was about to see is the best of the best. I feel like that became a trend with every PA or NP that I saw. I said, of course you think he is the best, you work for him! She smiled and said, “he is fantastic, but I know that you can’t go wrong in this city with some of the best hospitals at your fingertips.” I thought about it and felt so lucky. How lucky was I that I had all of these options. It made the fear subside just for a little until the surgeon came in.
He was charismatic, nonchalant, and got down to the point. He examined me and took some photos and told me what my options were. I could get a lumpectomy and because of the decent chunk of tissue that would need to be removed, he would do a reduction as well to even things out. I had plenty to spare so that seemed like a no brainer. But this came along with a decent amount of treatment and a much higher recurrence rate that I wanted no parts of. Then he got into the mastectomy. It made me cringe. There were two options. They could replace my breasts with implants (NO THANKS) or they could do something where they took tissue from my abdomen and performed a micro surgery which would take about 10 hours. They would take my tissue, skin, and blood vessels and transplant that up to create breasts (NO THANKS.) It made my head spin. He told me that I would struggle carrying a baby if we did that option since I would be sliced in half then sowed back together rather tightly with little to no room for my belly to ever stretch (NO FUCKING THANKS.) I looked up at him with a completely stunned look mixed with tears in my eyes and asked if there was another option. I knew what the answer was. My Dad asked how much this would all cost. He smirked and said that this was beyond my control and insurance would cover any option that I went with. Ok, first bit of good news I heard yet.
I sat there and looked at the lesser of two evils. I suppose I am either getting breast implants or doing the breast reduction lumpectomy option but with that came a whole lot more treatment according to the previous Surgical Oncologist. I knew I was seeing a 2nd Surgical Oncologist at a rivaling hospital right after so I would wait to see what she said.
We left and decided we all needed air and something to eat. I needed to call my bf and fill him in too. He was already on his way back down to the city to meet us for the remaining appointments that day. We went to lunch and talked everything over. I couldn’t think straight.
I arrived at the other hospital and checked into the Breast Cancer Center. This is where my friend Erica comes for treatment so I felt like I was in good hands. I was about to see the Surgical Oncologist that was referred to me by the head of the board there. My Dad had pulled his strings and we were confident that this would be the Surgeon I would go with. They took me back before my bf had a chance to get there. I was anxious and really needed him there. I heard his voice as I waited in the room and immediately felt a sense of relief. I needed my A team with me so that we could make the final decision together.
I was ready to hear what this doctor would tell me and hoped that she had all the answers I was looking for. I hoped that she would have some groundbreaking option that no one told me about yet where I could magically make this all go away pain free. Maybe she would tell me that the other hospital made a mistake and I was really ok. Or, she would just tell me the same things I have been hearing with the same direction the previous surgeon had told me leaving me empty and confused. What I really wanted was for someone to just make this decision for me. I wanted someone to tell me what to do because how could I decide?
She came in and was young, like almost too young and had a tacky necklace on. It bothered me. I don’t know if it was because I worked for a jewelry company and that I had a keen eye for it or if i was just being super critical because I was extremely uncomfortable and annoyed and just looking for reasons to dislike her. I tried to get passed her age and her taste in jewelry and reminded myself that she was referred to me by the board of the Breast Cancer Center so she must have done something right! Gosh why am I being a bitch, cut the shit Janine!
Alright, alright I am listening to every word she is saying and she gives me those same options. Please for the love of God tell me what to do lady. I tell her I just met with a plastic surgeon and he recommended I get implants and not the abdominal surgery and she strongly disagrees. Her recommendation is mastectomy with a flap (the only option the previous doctor was against. awesome) but then circles back to the lumpectomy option with the 12 weeks of radiation every single day and 5-10 years of Hormone Therapy which would shut my body down into menopause.
This was a nightmare. This was an actual nightmare and I felt like I was in a hole and the only way to get out was to be extremely damaged along the way and hope for the best and never truly being out of the woods with recurrence percentages no matter which way I went. Please tell me this isn’t happening. There was no easy choice, they all sucked and now I have two contradictory options from two different top surgeons. How the hell will I ever figure out what to do and how the fuck do I wake up from this nightmare.