Follow-Up

December 23:  At 9AM, we found ourselves back in Dr. Penman’s office for a post surgery follow – up appointment.  Dr. Penman was beaming when she walked in.  She was so happy with the outcome of my surgery!  She chose to use the word “curable.”  However, I am reluctant to use that word.  Although my prognosis is good, I know that I will always live with the fear of recurrence.  And I don’t think there is a cure out there that can squash or eliminate fear.

Dr. Penman proceeded to give me the stats:  the tumor was small at 1.1 cm, estrogen receptive (ER+), and it is infiltrating/invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC).  Given this information, she mentioned that my oncologist can run an additional test and there was a slight possibility that I might not have to endure chemotherapy! 

I had to undress from the waist up and then she ripped off my steri strips covering the incisions.  It did not hurt, but I wasn’t ready for them to come off.  I viewed them as my safety net so I wouldn’t have to look at my scars.  All in all, the scars are not too bad.  Each one is about 2 inches long and I feel that the one under my armpit is the worst. 

During our first consultation with Dr. Penman, she told us that sometimes after a lumpectomy, they’ll have to go back in to clean up the margins.  This usually happens about 10% of the time.  Guess what?  I fell into that 10%.  Basically, after a lumpectomy, if the pathology report states that your lump has cancer cells in the margin of tissue around it, you may need to have a bit more tissue removed. This is done to ensure that all of the cancer has been removed, and my risk of recurrence is lowered.  So, on January 10, I will be going in for a second minor surgery called a re-excision with a biopsy.  She just has to do a re-excision in my breast and not in my armpit.

Although I am bummed out about having to have this re-excision, overall I felt encouraged.  Dr. Penman kept telling us it was time to party!  And partying was definitely on my agenda, but first I had to get back to work!

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