When you get informed of having something that could potentially be cancerous, do you immediately fret over it? Yep. Do you want more information about it? Of course! Do you feel the need for a second opinion? Probably.
My husband and I differed on if we needed a second opinion after finding a mass on one of my ovaries.
I knew pretty quickly that I wanted that sucker out. Take it all, I thought. Oh well for not being able to bring another child into this world. I have one beautiful daughter and I need to be here for her. My decisions needed to be based on that fact.
My gynecologist informed me that, statistically, the mass growing in my ovary has a 13% chance of being cancer. Those odds were too high for my liking. In fact, if I had an 87% chance of hitting the jackpot, I’d go play the lottery.
He thought the best plan was to have a full hysterectomy. I, too, thought this might be the best route to take. I didn’t need my ovaries and uterus if it was going to cost me my life in the future.
However, the thought of menopause in my mid-thirties scared me. Not only was I having to give up my dream of more children, I would have to force unwanted symptoms onto myself. I began to think a second opinion was necessary.
I scheduled an appointment with my oncologist. His recommendation was to seek my surgery in Seattle. He felt that with my family history of breast cancer, it may be best to seek out a specialized surgeon. Besides, if I do fall into that 13% chance category, my little valley I live in would not be able to accommodate the extra “cancer” surgery that would be needed. He said it would be better to do it all in one surgery than in two. That made perfect sense to me.
My husband and I had a wonderful conversation with a high-risk breast and ovarian doctor. She, too, does not believe the tumors growing are cancerous. That helped ease my concerns a little. She came up with a plan of attack that sounded much better than the original plan. We will remove the right ovary only. A pathologist will take a look at it immediately. If it’s not cancerous, then they’ll close me up – leaving my left ovary to continue producing hormones. This will allow me to continue on my family plan. However, if it is cancer, then she will begin to remove the left ovary, fallopian tubes, uterus, and lymph nodes.
I’m not one to doubt my doctors or feel a second opinion is needed; I trust them and their knowledge. In this case though, it didn’t hurt to have someone else look at the images and blood test results. After all, my husband and I had differing opinions at first. Whereas I wasn’t going to stand still while (what could be) cancer grew in my body, he didn’t want us to jump to conclusions without talking to the doctors more thoroughly and exploring all of our options.
When it comes to your health and your body, never be afraid to seek out a second opinion. The diagnosis may change. The treatment plans may differ. The opinions can be at opposite sides of the spectrum. You just need to advocate for your wants and desires. Then see what opinion is most reasonable to you, what fits with your goals, and go from there.
Angela Banker is a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister; she is also a young survivor, a caregiver, a supporter, and a fighter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and found herself empowered to share her story to raise awareness about breast cancer. Angela participates in Relay For Life, started the Sisters Beating Breast Cancer page to inspire others, and continues to "fight like a girl" with the hope that her daughter will never have to hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer."