Friday, June 10, 2011

The Long Version of the Story

Who really wants to go for a mammogram. Before I got pregnant with Wyatt, someone suggested, (I think it was my mother), that I go for a "baseline" mammogram. I was in my early thirties but had a family history of Breast Cancer. How bad could it really be? I remember asking my mother and she described it to me as if I were lying down on the driveway and having your breast be run over by a car. Perfect image in my head to start the adventure. So some time in 2005 I went. It really wasn't half as bad as my mom made it out to be.

Life went on and I had Wyatt, I breast fed him for 10 months. The beginning was awful, it hurt and my nipples were raw and raging. At one point I even got mastitis and poor Tim had to "milk" it out of me. That is when I knew I truly met the man of my dreams :). Then came Nate and I nursed him as well again not so comfortable but I did it anyway. When I was all done with the breast feeding, I figured I should go back for another mammogram to check up on the girls. You are supposed to wait some period of time after you stop nursing, so I did and about 9 months later I went back. This time to a new place. I remember sitting outside the office on the phone with Carlene trying to calm her nerves about her own issues at the time. So there I went into the office, took my shirt off, had some lovely nurse lift my boob onto a cold slab and then proceed to squish it. Sounds fun right?

I left there with no worries just a regular day at the doctor. Unfortunately I got a call to come back because they thought they saw something. So I did and they told me not to worry, wasn't anything to bad and come back in a year. REALITY - if I listened to them I would probably be DEAD or close to it.

Three months later, when I was in the shower feeling myself up, I felt something. It felt like a peeble. I asked Tim to take a feel and he happily did but was not so happy to feel the bump. I decided to wait until after the weekend (and my first Triathlon) to call the doctor. Monday morning I called Dr. Ghophrany, as I said in a previous post she was terrific. She got me in to have a sonogram, which led to a biopsy.

I remember after the sonogram sitting in this little changing room all alone thinking ,"No FUCKING way, are you kidding me!" Then bursting into tears. The radiologist was walking by at that moment and consoled me. Actually gave me a hug, told me a friend of his was going through it with his wife and that I was going to be ok. REALLY, how did he know. But it was a nice gesture and he did get me in super fast for a biopsy.

Then for the biopsy. I really wanted Tim in the room but the radiologist said it wasn't a great idea. I guess he gets a little stage fright. Can't say that was to fun. Having some man stick a large needle into your boob, and dig around to get a piece. I was a little black and blue from that.

Two days later, I was waiting to hear from Dr. Ghophrany. And at the end of my day, at work, 6 pm on June 4, 2009, I got a call from her. She didn't sound so happy and came right out and gave me the news. She assured me we were going to take care of this and gave me her cell phone number just in case I needed anything.

My mother and aunt were at my house because I was supposed to be flying to Florida to celebrate my sister Ashley's baby shower. So coming home to them was not so fun. The look on both of their faces will stay with me forever. Tim was his calm self (but not for long, will have to save that for another post). After making a ton of calls, at about 9 pm on thursday night I called Dr. Ghoprany on her personal cell phone. She immediatey hung up with me and I sent Tim to CVS to pick up my first ever prescription of Zanax. It was just what I needed to get me through the night and next 6 or so months.

That monday I met with my breast surgeon, Dr. Manasseh. I had gotten a lot of advice both wanted and unwanted about how many doctors I needed to see. When I met her I knew I only needed to see one and Tim felt the same way. I would describe her a a "typical New Yorker". She used her hands a lot when she talked. Was skinny and looked like she could have been 10 years younger than me. Turns out she was only 2 years younger. She gave us the only option she thought, mastectomy. My cancer was the kind that starts in your milk ducts but seeped out. So that wasn't really good. Funny thing though is when I first got the news the only option that I could think of for me was doing both of them. Like I have said before - who needs them anyway. I really just didn't want to first look lop sided and second ever have to go through it again. For me it was the only option. She gave me a list of plastic surgeons and I happen to know one on the list. That leads me to Dr. Passaretti.

Tim came with me to my appointment, it was in Darien CT. When we arrived at the office to meet the receptionist, I wasn't sure I was in the right place for a mastectomy. The woman behind the desk was very pretty (looked like maybe she had some work done, her boobs were beautiful). They put us in a room and in walked Dr. P, in his three piece suit looking very fancy. He also looked ten years younger than me and very cute! I was asked to put on a gown, open in the front. When he came in he started to "exam" me. Felt a little more like getting to second base but he was going to make them better than ever. He explained the process. First Dr. Manasseh would remove all the breast tissue, if you have a weak stomach you should probably skip this part. She would remove my nipples (which sucked for me anyway during breast feeding), then scoop out the rest, like scooping ice cream. Then Dr. P would step in and place expanders in. Following that I would have to make a visit to his very fancy office to get filled. Yep, filled. Each week he would take a giagantic needle, place it in the filling spot and push in saline, until I was as big as I wanted. I could have gone DD but thought I would stay at my regular size a C for all of you who don't know me. I even got to see pictures of other women and his nurse, who herself was beautiful with fake boobs, showed me some pictures of women who came out even better than the ones in the book.

My decision was made. Dr. Manasseh would be the breast surgeon and Dr. Passaretti would be the plastic surgeon. I didn't need to go for any second opinions and really didn't want to be bothered. I had the cancer and I wanted it out. I had tried to call Slone Kettering, which is an amazing cancer hospital, but they wanted so much information and could not get me in for weeks. I just wanted it OUT of my body. I didn't want to wait and I did not want to be touched by any more people than I really needed to. I am not a shy person but how many hands did I really need on the girls to tell me they were coming off!! Between the two of them I felt confident they would get the job done. But I was really not so happy this job had to be done.

Dr. Manasseh and Dr. Passaretti knew each other and I did not have to do any of the "planning" piece. The first time they called me with a date it was about a month out. After one phone call to Dr. Manasseh she arranged for it to be the following Friday. I was so relieved that this was going to happen sooner than later.

Even though it was such devastating news I kept calm. I had my moments but for the most part I wanted it over. I knew at the end of the day being alive and watching my children grow was more important than my boobs. For that week in between my diagnosis and the surgery I had spoken to so many of my friends. Some came to visit, some called. All of them in shock of what was happening and I took it as my job to keep them calm. Not so easy when your trying to keep yourself calm!

I am happy to report my new perky boobs and nipples look better than ever. In another post I will go through the whole surgery part. But for now I thank Dr. Manasseh for getting the yucky stuff out and Dr. Passaretti for putting the good ones in.

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