I vividly recall one of the first conversations I had about this experience. It was with my friend Suzanne, the day after my mammogram. It sounds daft but I already knew the news wasn’t going to be good. “I’m on the train now!” I said, weepily (note I was able to mangle a metaphor in spite of the tears) “And I don’t know where it’s going to end.”
Six weeks later, I still don’t know where it’s going to end, but here’s a summary of the journey so far.
Mammogram & ultrasound, fine needle biopsy.
GP for pathology results, initial diagnosis which estimate a 3cm long DCIS tumour.
First meeting with breast cancer surgeon Dr. Leong to discuss treatment options.
MRI to get better quality imaging, which will help us decide on the best treatment.
First meeting with plastic surgeon, Dr. Moko, to discuss reconstruction options (should I proceed with a mastectomy).
Want to get off the train yet? Me too.
Dr. Leong to discuss MRI results which estimate a DCIS tumour that’s 5cm long. Decide on double mastectomy. Arrange surgery date.
Meet with the anaesthetist Dr. Crilly to discuss operation drugs and post op ‘pain management.’
Hospital admission. Surgery followed by daily consults with surgeons. On 14 August, I’m fitted with a corset-style bra with ten hooks and eyes. I am instructed that it needs to be worn ‘day and night’.*
Dr. Moko for first ‘expansion’ namely saline injection to pump up my new boobs. This happens gradually to allow the skin to stretch.
Dr. Leong to discuss pathology results, which were all clear, but… The DCIS tumour revealed itself to be 9.5cm.
Dr. Moko, second expansion.
GP for referral to psychologist and radiation oncologist. This happens:
Dr. Moko, third expansion.
Dr. Tulasi, radiation oncologist to discuss whether further treatment is recommended.
Dr. Grice, psychologist.
Date not known
Second surgery with Dr. Moko where she will remove the saline-filled expanders and insert permanent implants.
I’ve also got a referral for, but can’t yet be arsed to make an appointment with a genetic counsellor to discuss BRCA gene testing, which, if positive, could make me a candidate for a preventative oopherectomy (ovary removal.)
Moral of the story: don’t get cancer if you’ve got lots on.
* The bra was initially very tight and uncomfortable, so I was looking forward to half a day without it while it went through the wash. Little did I know that braless, my ‘breasts’ would drift apart on an orbit towards my armpits! Felt like the edges of grapefruits were brushing up against my inner biceps. V. disturbing. It went back on the second it was dry.