Monday, May 23, 2016
My third Tour De Medicine appointment was with the general surgeon, Dr. Demo*. By now, Tad and I are getting tired of the cancer talk, but she dived on in anyway with her version. I’d really been hoping to skip straight to the surgery part, but she would not be dissuaded! And I picked up a few more bits of info, so it was still useful.
Once we were finally able to zero in on the surgery topic, we learned that during the surgery they’d confirm whether or not radiation was needed – if the cancer is too close to the chest wall, for example, radiation may be needed. They’d also perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy, where they’d pinpoint exactly the lymph nodes involved and biopsy them, to see whether or not the cancer had spread – which would determine the need for chemo. Finally, a sample of the meanest-looking tumor would be sent to a lab for an oncotype diagnostic test, which would predict the likelihood of cancer recurrence, also informing the need for chemo.
As for the surgery itself, it would require one night stay in the hospital, and a six week recovery time. I knew about the six weeks (Dr. Cancer had told me that), but in my head had been thinking, you know, take it easy for six weeks, don’t exert myself too much, etc. After all, I type for a living.
That’s not what she meant. She meant I’d need to be out of work for six weeks!
Suddenly, somehow, this bit of information brought home how serious all this is. You never know what is going to trigger an emotional reaction. It took me a moment to catch my breath.
Lastly, we discussed reconstruction. Dr. Demo strongly recommended that I research my options here. (Who, me? Research??) She reviewed my options, and helped to narrow down the ones that are the most relevant and appropriate for my situation. She explained that the mastectomy part was fairly prescribed, and would take about an hour; but the plastic surgery part could potentially be more complicated, depending on what I have done. The sooner I could make this decision, the sooner the surgery could be scheduled.
Upon which Tad quipped, “That makes sense; the demo is always easier than the installation!” I don’t think she liked being compared to a household contractor, but for Tad and me the analogy has stuck!