This whole cancer thing has felt a lot like an Alice in Wonderland interlude until today when I consulted with the surgeon who is going to perform the mastectomy in May, about three weeks after my last dose of chemo.
Dr. T. examined said breast and interpreted the results of the infamous MRI of yesterday's post. I like her a lot. I immediately felt that she cared about me, and she had already consulted with Dr. C., the oncologist, as well as the radiologist who interpreted the MRI.
It's a fairly large tumor, as tumors go--about 1"x2"--and has a few "fingers" that want to reach out and involve more tissue. However, chemo treatment has a dramatic effect on reigning that in and making the borders easier to get when it's time for surgery. That's the word she used--dramatic. That means there won't be so much to remove, but there are a lot of secondary glands involved that have betrayed me and will have to go. She also said there's not a lot of pain involved, and my hospital stay will be one or two nights maximum. That's good; my family won't have to smuggle in so much real food.
All week something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount has been running through my mind: "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee..."
I still face another dilemma however: lopsidedness. That's because the kind of cancer I have is not the kind that lends itself easily to reconstruction. Breasts are supposed to be a balanced, matched set, which means I will probably have reduction surgery on the other side so I won't walk around listing starboard.
Before I start chemo on the 24th, Dr. T. will implant a port near my right collarbone, through which Dr. C. can insert the chemo cocktail, and from which blood samples can be taken to monitor the chemo. That eliminates the need for so much poking with needles during the chemo treatment period. Implantation of the port is an outpatient procedure scheduled for the 18th.
Dr. T. allayed some of my fears about chemo. She said it has fewer side effects than it did 15 or 20 years ago, mostly fatigue and hair loss. Well, that'll save me a little on the Personal Upkeep budget, but I'll miss my hairdresser friends. Bottom line: this cancer is highly treatable and the prognosis is excellent.
In other words, I can live with that.