Last year on this day, I was at Magee Women’s Hospital getting my yearly mammogram. I wasn’t nervous – I’d done this many many times and, because at the time I had just turned 36 years old, I knew I’d be fine. Even though I am BRCA2+, I didn’t expect to even think about cancer until I was at least 40, and by then I knew I’d have had a preventative mastectomy and it would be a moot point.
After the mammogram, I sat in the waiting area while the radiologist determined if I needed to have any more films. When the technician came to get me and said I would be having an ultrasound, my gut kicked into high gear. I knew right then and there that I was in trouble. And I was. After some more films and an ultrasound, the radiologist showed me the areas of micro-calcification in my right breast, and I scheduled a biopsy. There was no doubt in my mind what the biopsy would reveal.
Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The biopsy revealed pre-cancerous cells (DCIS). Nonetheless, as someone who is BRCA+, I knew that my life was about to change in drastic ways.
Since this day last year, I have had a bilateral mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction, a complete hysterectomy with oophorectomy and salpingectomy, and tomorrow I go in for what will hopefully be my last surgery – some nips and tucks to revise the original breast reconstruction. Strangely, my gut is telling me this is a bad move – that I’m pushing things, I’m asking for too much. After two perfect surgeries, why go in for more, especially when it’s solely aesthetic? I feel like there’s too much of a chance for something to go wrong – my biggest fear, like the last two times, is the anesthesia – what if I just don’t wake up? And what if I don’t like the result this time? Do I go in for even more plastic surgery?
Regardless, I do feel like I need some closure with this whole thing. So, I’m going to allow my brain to supersede my gut on this one. As I did before my previous surgeries, I will use today to relax, listen to my pre-surgery guided imagery, and just enjoy the day.
Before I head in for the surgery, I do want to give a message to all (three) of my readers: Anyone can manage his/her own risk of breast/ovarian cancer. Genetic testing, genetic counseling, screening, surgery – whatever you choose, we all have the power to manage our own risk. Doing so will save your life – it saved mine!