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!