This post is part of my story. To read the first part, go here.
We left of last time with a positive BRCA1 diagnosis and a recommendation to have preventative surgery.
The Dude and I left the office feeling a bit shell-shocked. Neither one of us expected this to be a big deal. I don't quite know what we expected, but it wasn't this. We didn't even really know where to begin. So we stopped and thanked God.
For gently bringing us to being okay with not having any more naturally born children.
For bringing us Doctor, someone who had knowledge and compassion and a clear direction.
For blessing us with our family and a wide network of support.
For giving wisdom when we ask.
The Dude first addressed the ovarian cancer issue. Here were the pros to having a full hysterectomy:
It would decrease the risk of breast cancer.
It would almost eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer - something that was very appealing to me after watching my aunt suffer.
No more monthly cycles.
The major cons:
It is major surgery and I have four small children.
It will put my body into surgical menopause and I will need to take replacement hormone therapy for a while.
There are other health implications later down the road relating to bone health and heart health.
For us, the pros significantly outweighed the cons and we decided that we would move forward with the hysterectomy. And soon, because there really wasn't a reason to wait.
Ovarian cancer is very serious for women because it is hard, almost impossible to catch. There are no sure-fire screening methods and so when it is detected it is likely in late stages.
The mastectomy was the hard one for us. And we didn't really even discuss it right away. We thought that if we took the offer of hysterectomy back to Doctor and presented it to her on a silver platter and said, "no thank you" to the mastectomy, that she would be quite pleased with us.
She saw us coming a mile away.
The Dude and I met up with her again and before we could get out our silver platter she went into why she highly recommended a mastectomy. She said that my mom had breast cancer. And at a very young age. She said that she would not mess around with this, and she would like us to at least go have a consult with a breast surgeon in Wichita. Further, she wouldn't be ready to discuss hormone therapy until we had our plane for breast cancer, whether that be intense screening or surgery.
The Dude and I left this meeting feeling downright beat up. My mom was furious and felt as though Doctor was bullying us into a decision. I was urged by friends and family to seek out a second opinion. I was told that a mastectomy sounded extremely drastic.
But, I heard the urgency in Doctor's voice, as did my husband. I looked into her eyes and saw honesty and compassion. So we scheduled a meeting with the breast surgeon. "It's just a meeting," I said. "It doesn't mean we will do anything."
Let me wrap up this post by saying that this entire process has been blanketed with peace. I am not one to keep quiet about things, as my friends who are reading this will attest, I have been discussing with them the ins and outs of each decision. Their common comments sound like this:
This just doesn't seem like a big deal to you.
You are handling this all so well.
You seem just fine with it all.
I'm not going to pretend that I am cool as a cucumber and have no attachment at all to my reproductive organs, but then again, my hope does not rely on my reproductive organs. As silly as that might sound. There may be lots of emotions rolled up with them, things like,
My child bearing years are over. No more exciting "I'm pregnant!!" announcements, no more little kicks, no more labor pains, no more moments of birth, no more nursing...
Will I be a hot menopausal mess? A 30 year old with hot flashes... sexy.
Will I feel like myself? Will mommy be mean and irritable? Will the Dude's young wife transform before his eyes to an old hag?
But, there are emotions, and then there is truth.