Honestly, from the start, I had a feeling what my future path held for me, but I needed more information from the medical doctors to make a final decision. To me, having a significant amount of information to help form a decision was necessary. Without it, I would wonder if I made the right decision. Consultations were scheduled with both the medical and radiation oncologists. My husband, Eric, was sticking by my side and accompanied me to the radiation oncologist appointment. My mom, having gone through all of this a few times, drove that six hour drive again to attend the medical oncology appointment. She felt she needed to be there. Even though I’m an adult now, I don’t think I would have had it any other way.
Armed with our questions in hand, I asked both medical doctors what my options were — in particular, I asked their opinions on double mastectomies. I understand not everyone agrees on the radical treatments, but I wanted advice and the opportunity to keep my options open. The radiation oncologist was certain radiation would do the trick and there was no need to take drastic measures. However, after he told me that other types of cancer could develop due to the radiation, I knew this was not the treatment for me. Eric and I thanked him for his time, walked out of the room, and never looked back.
My medical oncologist was more receptive to the idea of mastectomies. He did not try to persuade me against it. In fact, he said given our family history and the likelihood of more breast cancer in the future, it might be the better option. If it was his daughter in my same situation, he would be recommending that same treatment. With more discussion, I found out chemotherapy was not an option for DCIS, but radiation was. I would need to be on hormone therapy if I went with the radiation treatments, but since I might have a mastectomy, he thought I would not need that type of therapy. Again, my mom and I thanked him for his time. He knew my decision was made before I even made it. He didn’t expect to hear from me again.
In the end, my options were 1) more surgery to gain clearer margins, six-weeks of radiation, alternating mammograms and MRI’s every six months, five years of hormone therapy, and bi-annual oncology appointments, or 2) double mastectomies, with or without reconstruction, and no need for oncology appointments. Even though I had a feeling I knew what I wanted to do, I still had a lot to think about, and I needed to be able to think alone. This was not the decision of the medical professionals, not my families, but mine and mine alone.
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