A lot of times, it seems like we have a choice, but we really don’t. Right now, I am currently dealing with three (not) choices, as in, decisions I have to make even though the choice is either made for me or feels less than empowering.
Last year, after being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, I had my first PET test. The tech explained how it works, although at this point, all I can remember is this — an injection of radioactive….something…. along with sugar is injected into an IV. You wait a long time while both travel throughout the body. Any cancer will attack the sugar. The radioactive stuff makes the cancer shows up on the scan. So, essentially, the doctors can see the cancer activity because it’s activated by the sugar. If there was ever any evidence that I should cut sugar out of my diet – that was it. Why would I continue to put something in my body that gives cancer something to feed on?
But unfortunately, this is has been a really hard (not) choice for me. I confess – I eat a lot of sugar, and I love sugar. I’m not talking about candy, which I don’t really eat a lot of, but natural sugars – like fruit, or sugar naturally found in milk, or of course the most evil sugar, carbohydrates (bread, cereal, etc). And I put sugar in my coffee, which I drink all day (1-3 cups). When I want a “treat,” it is sugar – ice cream or some kind of chocolate. And these days, I have a treat daily. Yet, more and more I am thinking about ways I can reduce sugar from my diet. It really doesn’t seem like a (not) choice.
The cancer center has a nutritionist, and I think I will need to call them. I don’t know how to cut or reduce sugar from my diet in a healthy or sustainable way.
A lot of people in the BRCA community talk about the (not) choice between surveillance and surgery. Do you want your life to be run by a constant schedule of MRIs and mammograms required to surveil, or screen for, cancer when you are high risk, or do you want to have preventative surgery and, presumably, never go through one of those scans again? That decision was mostly made for me back in 2013 when pathologists found DCIS in my right breast, and I (not) chose to have a mastectomy to reduce the amount of breast tissue I had to practically nothing so as to avoid the chance of recurrence (of course, I had a recurrence anyway), and thus the need for surveillance (I also had a hysterectomy and my ovaries removed so as to eliminate the need to surveil anything “down there”). But, that (not) choice did effectively reduce my surveillance schedule to basically nothing.
Chemo, however, did a number on my body, and the port I had in my chest resulted in a small blood clot, which is living somewhere between my lung and heart. This means that I now take a baby aspirin every day, and I am signed up for a lifetime of every-three-months surveillance — definitely not a choice. I am writing this from the CT area of the hospital where I wait for my chest scan. So, even though I’ve eliminated the need for breast and ovary surveillance, I’ve traded those in for heart/lung surveillance. Smh
When I made the decision to go flat last year, I was left with a small “baby boob” on my right side – near my sternum, there is a flap of tissue that looks like a small breast. It’s visible from under my clothes if I don’t wear some kind of a bra with padding or a binder (which I usually don’t). Dr. Gimbel said to wait and see what happened with radiation because the skin would tighten; the skin under my arm did tighten, but this skin was not radiated – it’s basically in the middle of my chest. It did not tighten or change in any way.
I hate this baby boob. As much as I want to never have surgery again (the main reason I wanted to go flat in the first place), I feel like I might be willing to (not) choose surgery in order to get rid of this thing. I know my chest will never look fabulous naked, but it could look better when I’m clothed (which is, like, 90% of the time). However, I also now have this blood clot, which makes me a bit nervous. Dr. Gimbel says that’s not a big deal for surgery, and that I wouldn’t even need full anesthesia to have this removed. So the surgery is tempting. Yet, am I going to have elective surgery during a global pandemic when I do have blood clot. This (not) choice is really hard.
I did talk to Dr. Gimbel’s scheduler about when I could get this done; right now, I have given her some dates for the end of January. She will call me sometime in December to let me know a date. So, for now, I have time to (not) decide.