By Martha Phillips – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

Goin’ Through the Big C

Let’s talk treatment options… well, let’s back up to diagnosis! I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3. I am HR+ and HER2- and considered a Stage 2. When it comes to staging cancer tumors there are many variables. For me, my tumor was 4.5 cm, which is the main reason I was considered a Stage 2. There are many variations of breast cancer and then more variations. For me, being HR+ and HER2 – meant my cancer would respond to treatment and at the end of this arduous journey I would be cured. 

Now to my options! The breast surgeon gave me several options:

1. Lumpectomy on the right side with breast reduction on the left side.

2. single mastectomy on the right, with or without reconstruction.

3. double mastectomy with or without reconstruction. There is a procedure called “nipple sparing” which is what it sounds like, they remove the breast and keep the nipple. I, unfortunately am not a candidate for that procedure.

There was a small wrench thrown into my surgical options and that is they found a 1.3 cm lump in the left breast close to the chest wall. It would require a robotic needle/MRI guided biopsy. However, if I chose the double mastectomy, I could bypass that procedure and they would look at it in pathology after surgery.

The next step on making a decision was seeing the best plastic surgeon in the country.  My husband and I had a few days to discuss my options and had narrowed down the choices while being open to what the plastic surgeon had to say. We were able to make our final decision during that office visit. I chose the double mastectomy with the DIEP reconstruction. My surgery was 10 days later. My reconstruction surgery will take place after chemo and radiation, which leads me to my other treatment options.

Chemotherapy. I love my oncologist. He’s kind of like a hummingbird, all over the place. He explained to me my options, and I only had two: Plan A or plan B. After explaining both to me, I think he was about to tell me what he thought I should do but stopped himself and asked me what I was thinking. I quickly edited most of the curse words from my thoughts and said “I don’t want to ever do this shit again!”

This meant the more aggressive “Plan A” which is five months of chemo. The first two months will be once every 14 days for two months and then a different drug weekly for three months. And since five months of chemo isn’t enough, I had an appointment with the radiation oncologist who politely told me he thought I needed 28 days, Monday- Friday radiation therapy. Yes, this is a very aggressive treatment, but I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN!! 

“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31:25

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