Since posting yesterday about my breast cancer diagnosis there has been a warm and embracing flow of affection, support, personal stories and valuable information. Thank you.
Yesterday afternoon I met with Dr. Marc Boisvert, the Medical Director of the Washington Hospital Center's Center for Breast Health. He and his team have studied the pathology, the mammograms, and the MRI. My cancer, DCIS, is small and contained and, thanks to a routine mammogram, was caught early. I am fortunate to have options that range from lumpectomy to mastectomy.
At first I was hell bent on a double mastectomy, but at this moment lean toward lumpectomy. Rather than be guided by my fear I've decided to be guided by my opportunity. I'm lucky. Hopefully nothing more will develop down the road, but if it does I would still have options. Surgery is scheduled for March 14. It is an outpatient procedure. I don't like the idea of surgery, or radiation, but so be it. Radiation cuts the risk of recurrence to about 15%. I could still change my mind and go for the double mastectomy, which would cut the chance of recurrence down to 5%. I have a little time to decide.
From the many many messages I've received (from all over the country) what stands out is that so many women, and men, have cancer stories to tell. The sharing of them makes it less frightening all around and raises the level of understanding. The more we know, the more we know. I was told this is a sisterhood, but its a brotherhood, too. A family of patients, a fraternity of professionals, and all the people who love us, take care of us, and wish us well.
I've been blessed to have a good friend, Sally Hosta, go with me to every test and medical meeting. Its important not to be alone, and for all kinds of reasons, but especially that second pair of ears.
Its been interesting to learn this type of cancer is on the rise in women. It occurs most often in the left breast, though the doctors don't know why. Mine is in the right breast. The cause is unclear. I have no apparent family history of breast cancer. In addition to family medical history, two questions the various doctors asked up front was whether I am of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and whether I drink soy. No on both counts, but apparently there is some connection to DCIS.
According to the American Cancer Society, 60,000 new cases of DCIS are diagnosed in the United States each year. Again, mine is practically microscopic and was caught by a routine mammogram.