Standard of Care

It might surprise you to find out that I'm only on my 5th (of 25) round of radiation. We had some delays.

Before I had a chance to attend my pre-radiation planning appointment, I received a call from my breast surgeon.  He called while I was in Denver, for my brother's wedding. There I was, happily having breakfast with my whole family (and future family), the boys were stealing everyone's attention (and hearts) when my phone rang. I figured it was someone confirming an upcoming appointment, so I was surprised to hear my surgeon on the other end.

He said he had presented my case to the team of Oncologists, and that with my mastectomy pathology report having micro metastasis in 1 (of 4 removed) lymph node, it is "standard of care" to go back in for an additional surgery to remove ALL the surrounding lymph nodes in my left (cancer) side. He said the team came to the consensus that I should proceed with the additional surgery, however, my personal Oncologist and breast surgeon were both fine with me not having the surgery, and simply proceeding with radiation. But, it was still their responsibility to let me know that the Team recommendation, was to have surgery first, then radiation.

So, there I was, trying to be present and enjoy the moments in Denver, while processing this information. I didn't want to have yet another surgery, especially one that may cause more harm than good. I allowed myself one freaked out crying session while sitting on a bench at the Denver Children’s Museum (which is awesome by the way). Then I forced myself not to think about it until our vacation was over. I was like 67% successful in that.

Once I got back to Orlando, I scheduled an appointment with my Oncologist and asked for more information and his opinion. He confirmed that it was standard of care, but that he could NOT offer me any guarantees, having the surgery wouldn't increase my survival statistics and it didn't prevent recurrence by any additional percentages. Having the surgery, however, would come with it's complications, mainly lymphadema and increased limited range of motion. AND if I had the surgery, I still had to go through radiation, so it's not like I was getting out of that. So, my decision was to skip the surgery and proceed with radiation immediately.

Naturally, the guilt is ridiculous. Constantly nagging at me about if I made the right decision. If my cancer comes back, will I kick myself for not doing the surgery? Definitely, but this is the decision I made.

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