Why Choose a Double Mastectomy?

I was diagnosed with DCIS – Stage Zero – Was a doubleM too much? For some it may be too extreme, for me it wasn’t.  There are many factors to consider;

  • Family History
  • Can you live with the thought of recurrence?
  • What was evident from initial test;
    • Mammogram
    • Ultrasound
    • MRI
    • Biopsy
    • Other
  • You are okay with submitting your self to chemotherapy, radiation and followup drugs (example Tamoxifen for 5 years)?

My mother died of breast cancer after radiation and 6 rounds of chemotherapy (experimental at the end), various hormone inhibitors and steroids.  She had a lumpectomy and my assumption is when they did the lumpectomy they did not remove enough.  Now there are procedures where a patient undergoes chemotherapy before lumpectomy. That seems like it would help mitigate the margin issue, and that process may have saved my mother.  That was strike two!  Strike one was stress; her husband, my Dad, died suddenly after a heart attack 3 years prior to her diagnosis. She was a widow in her 40s.

This is strike three. My mother developed a rash 6 months after her lumpectomy, and only after repeatedly asking her primary doctor was she referred to a dermatologist. She went 18 months with an itchy rash that slowly covered her torso. The dermatologist told her to immediately see her oncologist.  The oncologist screamed at her and asked her why she waited too long, she probably only had about 2 years of life.

Shit happens, mistakes are made, things are overlooked.  Don’t think about being lucky, and hoping a mistake won’t happen to you. It’s not luck, it’s random, it happens. Take that into consideration when making a decision. Don’t be a Debbie downer, think positive, but be aware of the risks.

For 20 years I have thought about what I would do if I got the “you have cancer” call. My decision was not a quick emotional thought. I had time to think about it.

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