After five weeks of waiting, the results are finally in. The lab technicians have put eye to microscope and examined my cells. On the other hand, I’ve been patiently waiting. Making the most of feeling healthier and stronger, I threw myself into as much physical activity as possible. Of course I signed up to a CrossFit competition. Rubber arm at its best…
Today; Thursday, March 6th. D-day. I’ve been excited for this day to arrive! For me, getting my genetic test results is the final piece of the puzzle. Well, so I thought… As I drove to the hospital I started feeling anxious. My normal tough-as-nails-got-it-together-self started to unravel. It was 4 pm and we were finally sitting opposite Dr Gattas, genetic counsellor. Without hesitation he slid the single sheet of white paper across the desk. In front of me he pointed out the word: Negative, a very clear negative result to carrying the gene mutation. This is a positive result in many regards: my chances of a recurrence of breast cancer or ovarian cancer are reduced significantly. The room was silent. I should have been celebrating but all I felt was unease. Mentally, I thought I was prepared. “I had my plan of attack but now I’m not so sure,” I said. If only things were black and white. I was suddenly surrounded by grey.
Before receiving the results I had decided on a game plan (as per doctor recommendations): a positive result would mean surgery, a negative would see me start 6 weeks of radiation. If they couldn’t give me a definitive yes, or no, it was better to assume I did carry the gene mutation, than didn’t and therefore surgery would be the chosen path.
But Am I making the right decision? Recurrence is the fear that drives treatment. Isn’t that why I had chemo? Isn’t that why they recommend radiation? It’s all “preventative”, preventing a recurrence. Radiation only kills the tissue of the affected breast. Could I have a recurrence in the other breast? Even if I choose to have a double mastectomy, they can never remove all your breast tissue. It doesn’t eliminate your chances of having a recurrence (but reduces it by a great deal!). Both options have pros and cons; there is no “easy” option.
Once again, I’ve exhausted the majority of articles and research results available on the Internet. And I thought I was content with the findings. Listen to the experts’ advice, do your research and trust your intuition. “Sometimes you have to trust your gut feeling.” Dr Gattas voiced.
So what is stopping me from feeling 100% confident with the doctors’ recommendations? If it’s not genetic, then what has caused it? That is a question you could spend the rest of your life trying to answer. And I’m not opening that can of worms (well maybe a little). My cancer was hormone sensitive. Meaning: it’s possible my hormones played a significant role in the breast cancer. If that’s the case, the hormones will always be there. Isn’t that just as bad as carrying the gene mutation in some regard?
I hadn’t thought of this until the past week. I’ve been researching a drug that I’m “eligible” to take for the next 10 years. Without going into too much detail (that’s another blog on it’s own), this is what it says, “tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen in breast tissue.” So, if they want me to take a tablet to stop the hormones from causing cancerous cells to form in my breast tissue, wouldn’t it be in my best interest to not have the breast tissue there in the first place? Wouldn’t that reduce my chances or recurrence even further? (Feel free to chime in any experts in this field.)
I have decided to delay radiation by an extra week and meet again with my surgeon. More discussions are required until I feel comfortable with my decision. I thought I would have the final piece of the puzzle today… I was wrong.