Since my last scan came back questionable, life has once again gone into overdrive. My oncologist went out of town the week after the news broke. How I wish I could be one of those quiet, patient, easygoing people with cancer (if they exist?). But I am not. So, since he was out of town, I decided to get the ball rolling myself and contacted the ob/gyn and talk oophorectomy/hysterectomy. As luck would have it, I got an appointment rather quickly.
In discussing my options, we decided that the best course would be a full hysterectomy. Some may call it overkill, but I have to look at my future. It is true that an oophorectomy (ovary removal) is all that is necessary to move on to the next treatment, however, this is my thinking: I am 41. I am not planning on having anymore children. I may not be having problems with the other female parts yet, but that is no guarantee that I won’t in the future. The hysterectomy is a more serious surgery, but I am young and otherwise healthy….ya know…besides the terminal cancer. So why not have it done now? It would not be good to find out years from now that I need the major surgery while I am on chemotherapy and immunosuppressed. The drugs I am on now are easier and more tolerable and I believe I am in better shape physically to handle recovering from a major surgery. Also, the menopausal side effects are supposedly no different regardless of which way I go.
The other thing I have to chuckle at, is the “major surgery” part. Doctors tend to forget that two years ago I had an 11 hour surgery that took 2 nights in ICU and 3 more nights in the hospital, plus 12 weeks of home recovery. I think the 3 hour, 1 night in the hospital hysterectomy is probably doable for me. I realize all surgery comes with risks and possible complications, but I feel fairly confident that this one is most likely a drop in the bucket compared to the past.
In talking with my oncologist once he was back in town, he too agreed, after discussion, that the hysterectomy is probably the best option. It removes the risk of ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers from the picture. Who would be unlucky enough to get one of those cancers on top of breast cancer? Normally, I would guess no one. But in this case, I have to say, probably ME!
The plan is to have the surgery on May 2nd. Then, after recovery (approximately 4-6 weeks), I will have a repeat PET/CT scan to confirm progression of the cancer. If the scan confirms progression, then I will start a new drug, most likely, Arimidex. I have pondered the possibility that the scan in March was a fluke, and perhaps all of this is unnecessary. But, the research on pre-menopausal women with breast cancer is mixed. Certain studies have shown that removing the ovaries, therefore shutting down the major production of estrogen, can slow the progression of the cancer. I have been considering this surgery since diagnosis in 2012. I think the possible progression was just the event to tip the scales in favor of the surgery.
I will continue with my pamidronate infusions. I was hoping to get a break from them, but my oncologist doesn’t feel that’s a wise decision if the cancer is indeed progressing.
So, my summer to do list will have some new additions. 1) Finish recovering from surgery. 2) Get another PET/CT Scan. 3) Adjust to menopause. 4) Adjust to new cancer drug. The good news is, there are some other, better things to look forward to. A 10 year anniversary celebration with Mark near where we got married in Mexico. Nick’s birthday (the big 16). A family trip to Alaska. Another opportunity to participate in the NEA Representative Assembly which takes place in Denver this year.
Life continues to move forward. I continue to balance the good with the bad.