Tired and rather emotional
I hate using the term ‘roller-coaster’ to describe my breast cancer experiences but on occasions it really does fit the bill!
A few weeks ago I went through all the worry of yet another new cancer scare – my fourth one in the three year’s since active treatment finished. This time it turned out to be a benign nodule but that was after a whole barrage of tests accompanied by all the usual anxiety, so that I didn’t sleep properly for weeks as a result of it. Whilst in with my surgeon I discussed the possibility of having an elective mastectomy of my remaining breast because the regularity of these scares is having seriously detrimental effects on my mental health. I just want to be rid of the damned thing!
On the face of it, he was certainly open to the idea and suggested that it would be possible to do it and bi-lateral reconstruction at the same time at the larger regional hospital. As you can well imagine, I was quite excited by the prospect of there finally being the possibility of having reconstruction done as well as the attendant relief at the chance to be rid of all the anxiety related to the remaining breast.
Only a couple of weeks later we were off to see the onco-plastic surgeon to discuss it all in detail and whilst I knew I shouldn’t get too excited, it was hard not to be enthusiastic about the possibilities that lay ahead. Sadly though a few hours later all those hopes were well and truly dashed. The lovely surgeon went through every possible option but at the end of the consult she came to the conclusion that not only was I a very poor surgical risk, there was a strong possibility that I could go through a whole series of operations and not end up with a satisfactory result. She felt that it would be virtually impossible to do anything that would result in an outcome that would give me an even vaguely natural-looking breast. Not only that she was strongly adverse to a contra-lateral mastectomy, citing not only the Health Trust’s criteria, which she felt I didn’t meet but also that scares or not, it was better to hang onto the breast for continued monitoring. It is an understatement to say that I was extremely disappointed!
Two days later I had an appointment with my oncologist for a check up and I opened my heart to her about it all. Her thoughts are that, putting aside the disappointment over reconstruction, I am still far too emotionally fragile to consider any further surgery. As a result I have, albeit reluctantly, agreed that I will put the elective mastectomy on hold for a year. If there are no further scares then I will leave things as they are but if there is another one I will be able to have it done. I do understand that having something to easily check is a good thing but considering the fact that I’m considered to have a high potential for recurrence/new primary, you would have thought they would consider it simply on that basis and I’m annoyed that they won’t. I have been advised in support groups to ask for a consultation at a hospital in a different trust but the thoughts of having to travel a couple of hundred miles or more for a consult in a different region is not something I wish to consider, for logistical reasons if nothing else. Particularly as there would be no guarantee that another surgeon would agree to do it. The same applies to the reconstruction. I’ve been turned down three times now so making long journeys just be be disappointed again is not something I am prepared to do. No, what I need to do is find a way to deal with things remaining as they are. I’m not happy with it but sadly I am stuck with it so it’s a case of learning how to come to terms with it all and move forward.
It’s very difficult to make further progress though when I’m still being treated for PTSD from all the nearly dying during chemo crap. I still have nightmares and flashbacks and it is still proving virtually impossible to get a referral for any kind of counselling. I am sure that would make a difference but being a rural area means that services are really stretched so if you are not considered an urgent case, it’s almost impossible to get an appointment. It’s all very frustrating!
I hate that this is the person I have become; someone weighed down by anxiety and depression. Where is the strong woman I used to be? I guess it’s an indicator of just how traumatic those horrible experiences were but I am both angry and frustrated that I’m still dealing with the fallout of it all. Someone said a while back that happiness is like the tide and it does come back but right now I feel like it has gone out a very long way indeed.
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