So I got the results from the pathology today and heard lots of positive news. My lymphs are clear, which means nothing has spread, and there was no invasive cancer (‘microinvasions’) in the affected breast. There was no sign of anything troubling in my right breast.
When they took the breast tissue and spread it out they discovered the ‘margins’ namely the space between the cancer and the sample were very narrow indeed, less than 0.1mm, which means I am at a higher risk of a recurrence on my chest wall, for instance. Dr. Leong doesn’t believe follow up radiotherapy is required, but is going to take my case to the review panel to check.
The DCIS was very long – 9.5cm. Given the mammogram & ultrasound estimated 3cm and the MRI 5cm, this goes to show how the best imaging can only tell you part of the picture.
A positive thing this demonstrates quite emphatically is that a mastectomy was definitely the best, in fact the only choice in my case. If I’d have gone for a lumpectomy, they would have had to reoperate. So that’s a relief.
There is masses to be grateful for. How much longer before it became invasive? How much more concerning would the lousy margins be if invasive cancer were detected? And some people’s results show no margins whatsoever.
Also, is the story as bad as all that? I agree with Robert that there could well be an element of arse covering:
I hate how specialists so often leave the ‘small chance’ language to linger. I sometimes wander if it’s a ‘cover my arse’ strategy due to fear of litigation. I think we’re all ‘ones to watch’ these days, there appear so many things out to get us! Like sharks in the harbour – make the water cleaner, have more pleasure cruisers and what do you get? More shark sightings. Not necessarily more sharks.
Am I disappointed that the all clear isn’t clearer? Yes. I had hoped such comprehensive treatment would make the likelihood of a recurrence miniscule. It is still pretty small, though.
Plus who amongst us can hope for a life free of worry? I know my worry list today is a good deal shorter than it was yesterday. When I feed Theo tonight, for example, will I contemplate whether I’ll still be there when he’s in secondary school, like I did last night? No. I am going to be there, for sure.
There is still plenty to celebrate. Plenty.