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The Surgeon

I called my doctor’s office the next day and asked about a surgeon. They gave me a name and number for a surgeon that was in their building. I actually knew the office as one of the surgeons took care of a relative. I called and made an appointment. It was a week away. I don’t remember a lot from the next few days. I worked. I didn’t want to talk about it too much because there was a lot I didn’t know. Terry was coming with me to the appointment with the surgeon. He thought that I should see another surgeon as well, get a couple opinions. He was adamant that I don’t commit to the first one I saw. I agreed.

The day came for the appointment with the surgeon. We got to the office and we were brought to a room. They gave me a hospital gown to put on, remove my clothing from the waist up. It hadn’t dawned on me that the surgeon would want to do an exam. I thought we would just talk options. So I donned the gown and waited for the surgeon. He came in and we had a brief general discussion. He reviewed what they found on the biopsy and where the tumor was. He examined my boob. I admit it was a little odd having someone examine (handle) my boob while my boyfriend was sitting right there. We talked about the options, mastectomy vs. lumpectomy and possible treatments after the surgery. He would also remove 1 or 2 lymph nodes from under my arm for testing. A mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast. A lumpectomy is the removal of the cancer/tumor and surrounding tissue. He felt a lumpectomy was all that was needed. He looked at my boob again and said,”I think I can save the nipple”. Wait, what? I didn’t know my nipple was in danger. “Save my nipple?”I asked. He said based on where the tumor was he should be able to make the incision above the nipple. I thought I was so prepared and did my research. Mastectomy, lumpectomy, vanishing nipples, lymph nodes, I felt like a deer in the headlights. My brain went a little foggy. I spent time researching the medical aspects of the cancer and surgery, but I didn’t even think about the practical ones. How do they remove the cancer for a lumpectomy? What would my boob look like after? What kind of scar would there be. These things may seem trivial when facing cancer, but let’s face it; our boobs are part of who we are as women. We told him we wanted to talk about things and would give them a call. While I was getting dressed Terry said,”I really like him; I think he should do the surgery”. So much for second opinions…… I had to admit I liked him too. He was thorough and explained things without a lot of medical terminology. So we said we would like to schedule the surgery as soon as they could do it. The doctor was going on vacation for a couple weeks so we had to schedule it for after that. Vacation? I have a nasty thing growing in my boob and I want it out, like now. They advised me that I had to have an MRI prior to the surgery and that they needed to clear both the MRI and the surgery with my health insurance. Yay…more tests. The MRI is a more thorough test/scan that can see if there are any other tumors or growths anywhere in my boobs that wouldn’t show on the mammogram or ultra sound. They also explained that I would need to go in the day before the surgery so I could be injected with a radioactive dye that would make it easy for the surgeon to locate and remove some of my lymph nodes for testing. We set a tentative date for the MRI and the surgery. It all had to be approved by the insurance company before they would commit the dates.

While I know it would have been wise to meet with a couple surgeons I wanted involve Terry in the decision. He had previously lost 2 family members to cancer. I know it was not easy for him to hear my diagnosis. I felt if I involved him in some decisions and aspects of my treatments he would not feel like he had no control. In a previous talk he made me promise to not give up and to keep fighting. I meant to keep that promise and having him involved he would know that I was.

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