This has been a long day. Not exactly over yet but I can hear the fat lady warming up. My last clinic appointment turned out to be a ‘one out of four is pretty dismal‘ affair and therefore in contrast, this has been a rip roaring success. The plan I have still required modification but there were fewer rug-pulling-out-from-under-me moments and more, let’s-look-at-this-sensibly ones.
First up: my GP. I am new to her and so feeling my way. I intended to break her in gently, to mould her to my way of thinking, to win her over gradually. Instead, I rather fear I have been thrown upon her at the speed of sound and she is seeing me at my worst. However, she is lovely. I am warming to her very much. I left her surgery with the appropriate forms signed and necessary medications tweaked.
Second: All Singing All Dancing Breast Unit & Breast Surgeon. You will be glad to know I achieved a personal best for turning up early. This time, appointment was 11:30am, I arrived 11am. It is not big, and it is not clever but on this occasion I was not left to fester in the waiting room. We were seen early instead. Not the best way to encourage me to reform my ways but something of a result so I was not complaining. This was going to be a day of Girl Power. My first appointment was with Brainy Spice. She was the surgeon who will now be in charge of my cancer care. She will ultimately make the decisions and generally take charge of my treatment. She is awesome. I liked her immediately. If my cancer has any sense. Any sense whatsoever, it will not mess with this woman. Her no nonsense approach immediately put me at ease. She instinctively knew when I was in need of hard facts and when I was in need of explanation. Her answers always gave supporting evidence and she was confident in her dealings with me. But best of all, Best of ALL – she asked permission to touch me before laying a single solitary finger anywhere on my body.
Brainy Spice knew I wanted to go ahead with immediate reconstruction if possible. She knew about my ridiculous allergies (I mean, titanium? Seriously??!) and knew that reconstruction using my own tissue was likely to be the way forward. Her suggestion was to have my sentinel lymph nodes biopsied before surgery in order to establish whether the cancer has spread that far. If so, then delayed reconstruction would be a better option, giving time for whatever treatment deemed appropriate to be completed. She wanted this discussed with the oncoplastic surgeon at my next appointment and then asked me to return to her later in the day.
Next up: Oncoplastic Surgeon. This is where things deviated more significantly from my plan. I knew implants were not a great option for me and felt that reconstruction using my tummy acreage was the way to go. However, all my extensive research did not tell me what Surgical Spice mentioned pretty much immediately. This option relies heavily on titanium clips that are left permanently in situ. I do not want to have my new boob stapled to me. This is a bad idea. On many levels. More to the point, Surgical Spice was losing colour rapidly at the thought of allergic complications should she perform this procedure on me. As I liked her nearly as much as I liked Brainy Spice I needed to heed her misgivings. She also asked permission before touching so immediately shot into my top 10 of favourite surgeons. And so, she has persuaded me that the LD Flap is the way to go. This will use muscle and fat from my left shoulder and back, tunnel it under my arm (I am hoping for hard hats, flash lights and mining equipment) and push it out in the form of a new, albeit considerably smaller, boob. Eventually over time, with much mining and excavations on the other side, plus a bit of surgical fat hoovering and redistributing (I’m from Lancashire, we waste nothing), I should end up with a perfectly decent set of C cups. I am thinking of asking Emma Bridgewater to paint them.
And then: back to Brainy Spice. My sentinel node biopsy is all booked for Monday 7th March. My results should be back the following week and all being well, my main surgery will be happening in the run up to Easter.
Finally: there were numerous people to see for bloods, ECGs, history taking, pre-op assessment and consent signing. In the midst of all this I also had two meetings with different breast care nurses. I have to say, I love these Bosom Friends. Everyone, medical and nursing staff, were so calm, caring and unflappable. I got more information about my cancers. I knew I had three but not the details other than the 6mm grade 3 mentioned before. Today I discovered that I also have a 22mm grade 1 tumour and a 12mm as yet ungraded area. These are spread over a 52mm area. The best news was that while the grade 3 bit is bad, contrary to my fears, fast growing in breast cancer terms does not mean it will take over the population of large city in a few hours. So a few weeks here or there really is ok.
I will still be glad when it is all over though. But at least I now have a plan.