I now have a treatment plan! Oh my goodness. It feels like ten years have passed since my breast cancer was diagnosed. It’s only been a month, almost to the day (official diagnosis was made Sept. 13), but it feels longer. Much longer. About ten years.
But now I have a plan. I will have a lumpectomy with radiation next Friday, October 20. It’s outpatient surgery and I had the pre-op testing done yesterday. Everything came back normal. I consented during my initial office visit.
How did I get to lumpectomy?
When I was first diagnosed it felt like being hit with a tidal wave of fear, a wave so big and powerful that it would knock me down regardless of how firmly I tried to stand in place. In other words, I was terrified, which actually passed fairly quickly. In the place of the terror, though, an insidious, ordinary kind of fear took over. It seemed to perch on my right shoulder. It is not disruptively intrusive, but omnipresent, even though my prognosis, as I’ve already said, is good.
My breast cancer is estrogen and progesterone receptor positive, HER2 (human epidermal growth factor) receptor negative. It has a growth rate of 2% and my lymph nodes look clear on the ultrasound. In terms of prognosis, all of that is good, fantastically good. But you put that up against cancer, the idea of it, the threat implied in the word “malignancy,” and the good is not enough to salve that fear. My cancer is very treatable, but it’s still cancer. It’s still cancer.
I’m not afraid, but I am. I’m not worried, but I am. My surgery is Friday, October 20, at which time my very competent surgeon will cut the cancer out of my body. And I think that afterwards I will feel better. Maybe even normal. My body will be in pain, but with the tumor removed perhaps my mind will unclench. At least that’s what I’m hoping for—that the fear will be removed with the cancer.
There’s more—more to the story of how I got to lumpectomy—but I’ll have to explain later. For now there’s the worry, the preoccupying worry. The worry and the fear that never go away, but may be excised along with my tumor. I hope, hope, hope that’s what happens. Because my mind’s been clenched, or so it feels, for ten long years. And I’m ready, so ready, to stop being quite so afraid of this disease.