July 9, 2018
I learned in the last week or so that my surgeon is leaving the hospital where I’m being treated and is headed to LA. I had some questions about my healing and was lucky enough to get on her calendar this week.
I learned a few things today. On the practical side, I need to be massaging my incisions in the shower to break up the scar tissue underneath. While it would happen on its own over time, they’re hurting a little, and this will help. I was a little concerned that my right armpit is still 100% numb. She said it will take at least 6 months for that feeling to return and that there will still be a spot there afterward. I also have a lumpy spot right about where I was feeling my tumor. I know this is the tissue that they moved over when they removed the tumor and the space around it. She said that it will not completely go away. That’s going to make those regular mammograms that much more important because I won’t be able to feel a new lump around that.
There were a few other things that I wanted her to be aware of because I wasn’t comfortable/happy with how they were communicated to me pre-surgery. The first of these is that the genetic counseling results could have really impacted my surgical decision. The hospital didn’t have a person in this role when I started my treatment. Then, once they did, she had to go through a backlog of patient cases before getting to me about a month ago. I got the results back last week – there were no genetic abnormalities in my profile, which means that I don’t need to worry about adding extra screenings for other cancers to my list of things to do. This also helps my sister and her kids going forward. She and my niece will need to be hyper-vigilant about taking care of their health to help avoid getting breast cancer like I did. Next, we talked about the surgical choices. I learned that the reason that we didn’t talk about prophylactic mastectomies much was because the studies are showing that they’re not helpful in changing survival rates, and that the risk of complications is way higher when just a lumpectomy is all that’s needed. I suppose, 25 years ago when I made the decision that I’d want a double-mastectomy, that was what was known. Now things have evolved and that drastic surgery is no longer needed. The last thing was that while I had an idea how I’d look after surgery, there were still a couple of things that were a surprise, and it would have helped me to see some before and after photos. I also suggested that would help with anxiety about what the incisions look like after surgery. I knew going in that she was going to use glue on my incisions, and I know that the scars after that are pretty minimal. After that we talked a little about her new position in LA. I’m sad she’s leaving but happy she’s landed such a great new position!