Who knew that when Elizabeth and I decided to walk this year's Komen Race for the Cure (as seen in the photo above) and wear pink daily for the month of October that *I* would be the one discovering she had breast cancer barely a month later.
On November 7th, I went in for my routine screening mammogram. On the 9th, I received news that there were some abnormalities in both breasts - architectural distortion in the left and calcifications in the right. This probably hit me the hardest because it was completely unexpected. Worse yet, Elizabeth was standing right next to me as a I took the call from my PMD and saw me taking notes. The moment I hung up, she asked "do you have breast cancer?" The only answer at that moment was "I don't know but we're going to find out."
On the 21st, I had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The left breast was cleared (normal) but the right definitely had some micro calcifications in clusters. Being the doctor I am, I went into 100% research mode. The biopsy occurred on the 28th and the results came back on the 30th. At this point, they confirmed what I'd researched - I have DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) which is estrogen receptor positive. Rather than belabor the details here, try going to this link for more information on DCIS and its treatment: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/RecommendedTreatmentsforDuctalCarcinomaInSitu.html
As you can see, there are several options but all require surgery. I tend to favor a more radical approach (as those who know me well might have already guessed) and am more interested in a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy given that I only lasted one out of five years when I took tamoxifen as preventative therapy. While I'm giving you my personal opinions, I guarantee that I'll also be asking about a prophylactic mastectomy of my left breast. Not that they/I will do it but just saying.
On Monday, 12/5, I will meet with the oncologist at Houston Methodist (where my initial diagnosis was made). On 12/8-9, I'll be going through a multi-day imaging and physician meeting process at MD Anderson. This visit will include appointments with a PA, surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. Once I've received options from both facilities, we'll make our decision on what to do and where to go.
Elizabeth knows everything and seems to have a good handle on it. She knows that because I was high-risk for breast cancer and get yearly mammograms, my cancer was caught early and is curable. She also knows (without me telling her) that she's now at a higher risk and will have to start screenings at a younger age. It's terrible to put that burden on your 10-year old daughter.
Steve is his usual stoic self. It's always good to have a rock by your side when things can get emotional. But I also hope he knows that it's ok for him to express his own emotions.
I would be remiss to not give a heartfelt thanks to a former high school student of mine who is celebrating her own personal victory against breast cancer. She is my hero and has been a constant source of encouragement while we've been waiting for results to return.
The next time I post, I will have met with the doctors and have made a decision. Let the battle begin!