We had my appointment with the surgeon this week. I say 'we', because my husband took off work to join me for the general hand holding, and also to be one of the hemispheres of my brain. Who needs Siri when you've got a Larry? These past seven days have consisted of me saying aloud, "Remember that we have to ask about ____," every seven or eight minutes. And Larry only forgot one of the questions, so I call that awesome.
We finally met with the surgeon, a very calm man with a matter of fact manner. I adore those qualities in my doctors. He reviewed my medical history with me, which meant, of course, that I remembered all sorts of things that I forgot to write down myself, like that time I forgot to take my blood pressure meds and ended up in the ER with supraventricular tachycardia. (How could I have forgotten that? My heart was stopped twice!)
My husband, ever helpful, then remembered "that thing".
"You know, that thing."
I stared at him blankly, because "that thing" could have been anything. I've had a lot of "things" over the years. Lots of mileage, as Indiana Jones would say. Larry was determined to help me out.
"You know...remember when Zane was born and you told the anesthesiologist about it and he decided to do general anesthesia...?"
"Oh, yeah! That thing." I felt that Larry and I had bonded over our shared inability to remember something. That "thing" was a mild Chiari Malformation, where part of the brain ends up in the spinal column. The doctor wrote that down, too. I started to feel as though I was already battle scarred, with all the surgeries and various illnesses I'd survived over the years. But the surgeon didn't even bat an eye, and I realized that he'd seen this scenario played out many times.
We then found out that the kind of cancer that I had was what they call "infiltrating"; which means that it likes to travel. That part was bad. The good part was that, for now, it appears that the cancer has stayed in one place, because the biopsy of my lymph node was negative. At this point, my surgeon noted that I was pretty calm, and I commented that he missed the waterworks by a day or two.
Then the surgeon outlined all of my surgical options, least invasive to most invasive. I was surprised to learn that a complete mastectomy did not improve my survivability rate, compared to all of the other options. No, the survivability rate was the same no matter which option I chose. The doctor also spoke about chemotherapy, and radiation, and gave me the names of several oncologists that he deemed 'competent'.
Competent is good.
He gave me the option of thinking about everything before I made a decision, but I had already decided on a direction. A lumpectomy would be the least invasive, with minimal downtime. As long as the cancer hasn't decided to up and leave town, that's what we're doing. The doctor said that an MRI was the first step, prior to surgery, to see how big is big and how bad is bad.
As we walked out of the building, Larry observed that the doctor had never used words such as "You need to be prepared for___" or other terms used to impart bad news. No wonder I liked him.
So...Step 1. MRI. Step 2. Oncologist. Step 3. Schedule surgery.
"Team Tina" has a plan.