The day after my diagnosis I found out I had an appointment with a surgeon. I came to know that fortunately I was referred to a very well respected surgeon who was a man of few words but was very aggressive in the operating room in regards to the surgeries he preformed. For this I am thankful.
I was literally a wreck that day. The news of the previous morning still whirling in my head.
I remember sitting in the waiting area of his office wanting to scream " don't you know I have cancer". I am not so sure who I wanted to scream that at.
After going into his office he turned and looked at me and said " what would you like me to do". I think my brain exploded as I expected to be told what was going to happen. I thought that was his job. At this point all I know is I have cancer. I don't know what type, if its in my nodes or if it has spread anywhere else. What do I want? I want not to have cancer. I want this all to go away, to be a dream, a very bad one that I would wake up from and it would all be gone.
He then did a breast exam and was very thorough but I remember lying there and feeling completely invaded not only by him manipulating my breasts like they were like putty but by the cancer. I turned my head on the table and the tears came, I was completely overwhelmed.
When we returned to the room he ran through the list of choices like we were shopping for surgeries. I found it all totally weird and while he spoke I kept thinking " how can I keep my boob?" If I could find a way to keep it I would, no problem with that decision. In the end we asked him what he recommended for the best possible outcome and he said " Mastectomy". He has said it now, if I make any other choice it would be the wrong choice or would it? I wanted my boob!!!!! I think down deep I knew he was right. I knew that with a tumor with some girth like mine, a lumpectomy would leave me with not much of a boob after the excision and then clearing the margins around it. He had said that if the margins were not clear he would have to go back in. As I know now I had two tumors, a second one in the duct at 0.1cm had started.
I remember looking at him and saying okay to the mastectomy. I signed the papers. Decision done.
In 24 hours my life changed forever. I was called in a half hour of leaving the doctors office from OR booking. I missed that call but followed up the next morning. Surgery was scheduled the following week.
This was really happening. I felt like I was being swept along in a tsunami.
The next week and half was a mix of bravery and complete devastation. Some days my " big girl pants" just did nothing for me and other days I managed.
Pre-op was a disaster. I woke up with my first ever identifiable panic attack. I thought I was going to completely crumble. It was four hours of " sit here" " go there" " take off your clothes" " roll up your sleeve. I had my beloved with me and I could see him look at me with complete helplessness. No one could fix this it just had to happen.
The day of the surgery was surreal. It was really going to happen. I needed to do this so I could strive for tomorrow. They took me in and marked me for the Sentinel node biopsy. I gotta say this freakin hurt. They inject the radioactive die in close to the nipple area. I screamed out when she did it and then proceeded to sob. I had woken up with an unusual headache that morning, something I was not used to. I could barely look at the lights on the ceiling as I lay there crying. The doctor was great and completely empathetic and tried reassuring me. She has some success. Once done with the marking they sent me out to sit on the chairs in the waiting room with the johnny coat on. I feel asleep on my husbands shoulder.
" Sondria Browne" that is me I thought as the nurse called me to go to surgery. No turning back now it was going to happen. All the " why me's"seemed distant as at this point I was just in the moment. No lamenting. I was resolved to what comes next although, oh so very sad and scared. My headache had turned out to be a distraction on this very stressful day as I could barely keep focus..it was definitely a migraine not something I ever get, maybe a godsend on this day. I said good bye to my hubby and they wheeled me up to the OR. A young doctor came over to me after my arrival and marked me to ensure they took the right breast. She had two students with her and they were coming in to the OR. Then the anesthesiologist came with her student and talked about what they would do. I am thinking okay that is five in the operating room. The surgeon came to see me and just looked down and smiled at me, he had his mask on but I could tell in his eye's. It was then off to the OR. Three nurses were there, one fussing over me and one going around making sure it was all ready to go, she was in charge you could tell...
To tell you the truth at this point I just wanted to go to sleep, to make the pain my head and the pain in my heart go away. I hear the doctor say " we just gave you something for pain" " I think thank god".
"You are going to go to sleep now" I hear the doctor say...... good night irene................