Decisions are never easy, especially when they can mean the difference between life and death...
I met with my radiologist yesterday to discuss whether radiation is needed or not. The short answer is yes, according to him. That is not what I wanted to hear but he certainly painted a compelling case.
When I left the appointment, I sat down to summarize in writing the compelling case so I could understand, and found I didn't understand. I have a call back to him to clarify. Here it is, as I see it. I am certain I am missing something.
My re-occurrence risk for cancer is 8%. Hormone drug therapy cuts that to 4%. Radiation therapy cuts that by 50% again. I think. Frankly, it was a little confusing. He said because there was lymph involvement, they do radiation to prevent having to do more lymph surgery. He also said that the hormone drug I will be on, which cuts re-occurrence in half, is systemic, but radiation is local treatment (targeted on the breast/armpit.) That supposedly also cuts the risk in half. I don't get this, and here is where I drove him and the nurse crazy. If it reoccurs locally...it still reoccurs...so who cares if it is systemic or local treatment? With the drug, my risk goes to 4%. Radiation would take it to 2%. If that is the case, I am not sure it is worth going through radiation when my risk is so low...unless I am totally misunderstanding. The nurse who took my call seemed to indicate I was misunderstanding.
I know I am driving my doc and my nurse up the wall. I asked it every way to Sunday, and they didn't seem to understand what I was asking or how to answer my question without ambiguity. I am not being a pain in the neck, at least not just because I am a jerk. I don't want to take such a serious decision lightly. Bombarding my body for 6-weeks with radiation is a hard thing to dismiss as trivial. If I am not fully behind this treatment, I am sure it will be even less fun than it is already promising to be.
Then, dilemma #2. Ideally, the radiologist starts radiation now. But it must go 6-weeks uninterrupted. That means, I would have to cancel the trip to see my folks, my sister, and Cape Cod. The best window for radiation is in the first 3-months of surgery. So, ideally, I should cancel the trip if I decide on radiation. However, the radiologist agreed that quality of life matters, and he understood why I would not want to cancel the trip.
I meet with the surgeon today. My second half of the reconstruction surgery (the easier half I am told) is currently scheduled for August 1, but then that would further push radiation back. The radiologist typically does radiation before the second surgery. So surgery could be pushed back, but I must make a decision quickly as the operating room facility fills fast.
So, I am not at all sure what I should do. I am praying about it, and hoping answers will come.
There is a third dilemma too. Right now the reconstructed breast is perky like a 16-year-old's. The normal breast is obviously of an old lady pushing six decades of succumbing to gravity. I can get it "adjusted" during the second surgery. However, insurance doesn't pay for it...and it does cause a little more pain and suffering.
But, there is this. Frankly, it is hard to look in the mirror and feel freakish. There will be no pictures, so you are going to have to trust me on this.
I went on a long 8-mile walk and prayed. Show me Lord! These are not easy decisions, and I really haven't the slightest clue what I should do. I added my 2x4 prayer: I am thick headed, Lord. You are going to have to smack me over the head with an answer or I won't get it."
Pray for me if you think of it. I want to do what God would have me do...but I just am not sure what that is.
On a positive note, the little baby saved from abortion, and then born only to have serious respiratory issues had a bad turn two nights ago and went on full oxygen support. (For back story, see my blogs from June 14,15.) However, the mom and many of you prayed all morning yesterday over that sweet little guy. His breathing normalized, and he is now only on 44% oxygen support. Keep the prayers coming, dear friends!
The prayers of a righteous man availeth much.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Pray without ceasing,