Angela’s Corner: Dear Oncologist . . .Angela Banker
After receiving the shocking news of having invasive cancer, I knew my life was about to change again. I definitely was not looking forward to any more change. Once I was finally home, feeling better, and near my computer, I had an email to write. My oncologist told me to email him if there were any questions or changes in my health or family history. This, unfortunately, was a major game changer.
Sitting down to the computer I brought up my email. Starting the first line seemed like a lifetime went by. This really was going to be hard to write. Can I simply say, “Hi! I have cancer. Now what?” After meeting him only once months before, would he really remember me? I sat at the computer for a good half hour writing and revising the email. Finally, I just decided to put fingers to keys and went with something like this:
As you may remember, I decided to have bi-lateral mastectomies after receiving my DCIS diagnosis. I am now in the recovery stage, and am feeling better every day. However, with the mastectomy comes news that I, indeed, had Stage 1 Invasive Lobular cancer. I’m sure this probably changes everything. What are our next steps?
With a few email exchanges between us, I had a new oncology appointment scheduled. I knew my life would be changing again after that scheduled appointment. The reality of how much it could be changing would be devastating. Dr. T. would have my life in his hands; the puppeteer and the puppet. Oh how I wanted to cut those strings and run.
When I was first diagnosed with DCIS, I had two options – radiation and Tamoxifen, or mastectomies. To me, this was a no-brainer. Mastectomies would provide me with a quality of life and hopes of bypassing the multiple recurrences that frequently happen in our family history. This also provided me the opportunity to expand our family at any time and not be forced to wait.
Naturally, I was nervous for that new oncology appointment. I headed to this meeting by myself, not something I really wanted to do, but it was needed. Dr. T. read my pathology results and was shocked. All my imaging (mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI) failed to pick up this cancer. Unfortunately, lobular cancer often mimics breast tissue; therefore, it is not uncommon for it to go undetected. The news, to me, wasn’t what I wanted to hear. He needed to send my tumor to California for oncotype therapy to test the tumor before he could truly make a recommendation for treatment. More than likely it would be anti-estrogen therapy, but he wanted a definitive answer. I didn’t blame him. I’ve learned from my experiences that taking a stab, an educated guess, isn’t the route I like to take. After all, I need definitive answers.
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