Julie Costakis

First post: 8/29/2016 Latest post: 10/28/2016
Friends and family have asked about my health, so I hope this information will help anyone interested to understand more about my journey this year and how I arrived at the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy.  In April 2016, a "suspicious area" was detected during my routine mammogram at St. Vincent Breast Center on 86th Street.  The wonderful radiology technician who conducted such a thorough examination will always be my heroine!  I was treated so kindly there, and my dear friend Susan raced across town as I waited (on the verge of tears) to meet with the first breast surgeon.  Ten days later I underwent a stereotactic biopsy, performed by Christina Kim, MD at Community North.  My husband Tom was key in helping me meet with doctors and research options.  The biopsy led to the diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), often referred to as a very early form of breast cancer. I decided to wait until after our son Matt's commencement from DePauw University to have a lumpectomy, also performed by Dr. Kim at Community North in late May of 2016.  Dr. Kim was unable to achieve success, so I took a few weeks to determine the next step.  Tom was once again a tremendous support to gather data, meet with doctors, encourage me, listen to my fears and questions, as well as make decisions.  Erica Giblin, MD of St. Vincent Carmel Hospital was recommended to me by several people.  After meeting with her and a great deal of prayer, I felt confidant about moving forward with a treatment plan under her direction.  I also spoke with some amazing women who (sadly) have been on a similar path during the last 12 months.  Vicki, Karen, Sha, Beth, Sue, Jen and Kim -- thank you for your candid and heartfelt wisdom and guidance.  No one desires or chooses to be a member of this "sorority", but once in, these sisters are an incredible support!  The St. Vincent Hospital tumor board met to discuss my case, and although the recommendations were divided in half -- between a second lumpectomy and mastectomy, I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction.  Due to family history and other extenuating factors, it is the right thing.  With dear friends, family, neighbors, skilled healthcare providers and the Lord Almighty with me, I am ready to face the challenge awaiting me next Tuesday August 30, and the weeks beyond that. I have been showered with prayers, encouragement, physician referrals, laughter, friendship, gifts, support, meal delivery plans, as well as wisdom and post-mastectomy gear from the brave women who have gone before me. Thank you to everyone for your kindness -- I am at peace knowing that God "has it all under control."  Strange as it is to be the one on the receiving end of mercies, favors and support (due to my lack of humility), I have finally met a challenge I could not possibly negotiate on my own.  And oh, how wonderful it feels to let go and receive the blessings!  One final note, a suggestion my friend Jan shared with me months ago: That I should consider not approaching this experience like a battle, to refrain from the "mighty warrior" mentality.  This seemed odd because I had always heard "courageous battle" associated with the breast cancer experience. I decided to heed this wisdom.  While breast cancer deserves to be knocked out and destroyed, my role is to lean into God's promises of comfort and healing and protection -- lean into the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). He will guard my heart and my mind.  He is the Great Healer, the Mighty Warrior.  I do not need to fight through the next week and months with a battle mentality -- I need to trust God for all of these things!  I am so thankful He is my guardian, my warrior, so I can rest and heal.  I appreciate each one of you for caring about, praying for and loving me through the next portion of this journey.  I am so thankful that Tom, the boys and my mother have tolerated and loved me despite the many ups and downs thus far; they have truly exhibited unconditional love.  Tom will take over the CaringBridge posts once my surgery begins.  Even if I cannot always reply to your posts, please know that your encouragement, prayers, and kindness has and will make all the difference to me.  

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