After the MRI on June 12th and while we were waiting on the genetic testing, my husband and sister were encouraging me to get a 2nd opinion. Actually, my sister who had just went through her own cancer scare last year, kept really encouraging me to call the Mayo Clinic. She had gone to Mayo in Rochester, MN for a cutting edge throat cancer surgery and had phenomenal success. She lives near Charlotte, NC and was shocked to learn that Mayo was in network with her insurance company. Click here to read about her trek. And while you are on her blog, search around. She has a few more updates hidden among all her travels.
She kept pressing me to just see if Mayo was in network for me. Well since my hubby also wanted me to get that 2nd opinion, I figured the least I could do was to call them. Mayo has a Breast Center in Jacksonville, FL and that’s only about 6.5 hours away from our home in Clayton, NC. I called them on June 19th and our insurance was also in network! I couldn’t believe it! I was on cloud nine. At first they gave me an appointment of July 22nd and I happily agreed. However, after many friends praying for me and me praying like crazy, the schedulers called me back the very next morning and had an appointment for me on June 27th! That was only one week and one day from the day that I called them!
I was a little worried about the logistics of making all this happen but my hubby and sister kept telling me not to worry about that so I’ve pushed all those thoughts away. We are only going to be out the gas and lodging and hopefully that won’t be too bad. My sister is the Airbnb queen so I know we are going to be in good hands.
Speaking of logistics and organization, my good friend Desiree, just happens to live in Jacksonville and she is going through breast cancer at this very same time. She has been a world of support to me! One of the first things she recommended to me was this book. Now that I’ve read it cover to cover and watched the dvd thanks to my other rock star cancer survivor friend, Connie, I can also recommend everything from Kris Carr. Go check out her website! But back to logistics. In the book, Kris recommends you setting up your cancer trek as a business. I’m the CEO of “Save My A$$ Unlimited.” I’ve elected my hubby Ron as chief record keeper and CFO. He’s in charge of all the insurance stuff and bills. My sister Rosa, is in charge of all travel. My sister Tammy, is in charge of all things recovery and humor. Tammy lives in Missouri and even if she can’t be with me during my entire recovery, she’s still in charge of making sure someone has my back.
Here Rosa and I are at an outside healing meditation area at Mayo.
On my first appointment at Mayo, I could tell right away that things were really going to be different. My Raleigh doctor was very experienced (over 34 years as a breast surgeon) and she was kind. My only beef with her was that she wouldn’t give me her recommendation. Heck, I’m a newbie in all of this and she just kept saying that we could try a lumpectomy and see if we can get clean edges. But then at the same time, she said a mastectomy would bring the same survival rate. I needed her expert guidance and she kept side stepping my every question.
My first doctor at Mayo didn’t hesitate at all to tell me her personal opinion. She said without a doubt, she recommenced a full left mastectomy. The comment that really hit home to me was when she also said that they could biopsy the satellite nodules that the MRI had reveled but that even if the biopsy came back negative, she would not believe it. These areas of enhancement are in a straight line leading from the main tumor heading straight to my nipple. I’m a layman and it really seems logical to me that anything at all showing up on the left side had to go!
Oh and by the way, my DO, also recommended a full left mastectomy. He was the doc that I’ve been going to to help me with nutrition and whole body care as it trek through cancer.
So there you had it. 2 docs so far telling me the same thing.
On the 2nd day at Mayo, I met with the breast surgeon. This guy walks in and I immediately think of a video gamer. I thought to myself, that even if he doesn’t have a lot of years of experience, I think his hands are going to be quite nimble. Then I learned that his mother was a breast cancer survivor and that is where his passion came from. He as well didn’t hesitate at all and told me left mastectomy with no nipple sparing was my best choice. It felt great to have 3 doctors telling me their honest opinion.
That was it for day 1 and 2 at Mayo but then they called me back and I had to go back on July 5th to meet with the plastic surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation oncologist. These appointments all went great too. Everyone is very hopeful that I won’t have to have chemo or radiation but because of those darn satellite nodules, there is a chance I may have to. Bad part is, I won’t know until about 2-3 days after surgery. And because of that, I can’t do immediate reconstruction.
My favorite appointment on this second Mayo trip was with the plastic surgeon. We went over all the choices and again, I looked to the expert and asked for his honest opinion. Should I go with implants or should I trip DIEP. A DIEP procedure uses fat and capillaries from your tummy to reconstruct your breast.
He didn’t hesitate either. He said that I was an excellent candidate for DIEP. I was young (Yay! I felt great to be called young at 54). I was a non-smoker. I was healthy. And, I had enough fat and skin in my abdominal area. (Yay for belly fat!) Actually this is the only good thing that will ever come from my belly fat. You have probably heard that carrying your weight around your tummy is the worst place health wise to carry your weight. You know the apple shape is so much worse than the pear shape figure. It is actually so very true. My cancer feeds on estrogen and your body can make its own estrogen from belly fat.
So that is our plan. He’s going to put in some tissue expanders right after the breast surgeon completes the mastectomy. I’ll have to go back once a week for 3 weeks to get the expander slowly filled until the left reaches the correct size. Then we can proceed with the DIEP. Only slow down is going to be if I have to have chemo or radiation. We can’t start with the DIEP until 3 months after the last day of radiation. I am praying so hard for no chemo or radiation!!!
I got the call today with my surgery date. It is going to be on August 2nd with an August 1st pre-op appointment. These next 3 weeks can’t pass quickly enough!
Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts. With God, I’ve got this!