We went to the surgeon last Wednesday, after an updated MRI on Monday. We stopped at the hospital to pick up the report before the appointment and of course read it in the car. It indicated that except for edema (swelling) there wasn't any evidence of a tumor.
We met with Dr. Compagnoni and she gave us the perspective on the MRI report. While it would seem to be good news that the tumor is undetectable, she still wants to proceed with a mastectomy, a complete removal of the breast. They will also remove some lymph glands, with a check by a pathologist during surgery to help make sure no more lymph glands than necessary are removed.
The next issue was about potential reconstruction. Would Deb want to have something implanted or not? The options are to use abdominal tissue or an implant of saline or silicone. Abdominal tissue is removed below the navel, which is the least likely alternative to cause issues later. There is a scar and the potential for the abdominal muscles to be sore for some time. The recovery time can extend to six or seven weeks.
Using a saline or silicone implant reduces the hospital stay, but at the time of surgery a expander is inserted with a pump. During a several month period the pump expands the skin over the chest wall so that when all treatment is finished, a permanent implant can be inserted.
http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/reconstruction/types/implants.jsp is the web site that discusses implants.
Deb is still doing homework on this, but leaning toward not having reconstructive surgery. She can have it in the future, of course, but would like to heal more quickly and her life style isn't going to be affected by her decision not to have an implant.
I know that Deb is starting to struggle more with the enormity of cancer, surgery to remove a breast, and the aftercare. There is also the reality of repeated checks and the potential for a recurrence.
If not for the kindness shown to us, and all the prayers from so many people, we would be lost. There has been a flood of information and events as this is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So many people with cancer, and so many family members and friends struggling with care and support for the victims.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.
So many have trod this path before us, without the advantage of the medical care we have now, so we will make our choices and leave it in God's hands.
Thanks to all for your caring. It is impossible to describe how your love and warmth makes it possible for us to endure, sometimes even with humor!
God Bless all of you,