I went to the Sonnenalp Breast Center outside of Vail, Colorado, for the stereotactic biopsy this past Monday. Erin went with me, and I am so happy she did! She had to wait for nearly two hours in the waiting room, (after waiting for an hour while I had an MRI…) and I appreciate every second. It was so nice to have someone to talk with before and after these procedures. She was all-in when I talked cancer, and in the next moment happy to chat about our bad-girl teenage days.
Dr. Monique Fox performed the procedure, and she and her assistants were great! The procedure involved laying face-down on an exam table with a hole in the middle. Think cornhole (TY, Kimmie). The rogue boob was then dropped through the hole (doesn’t this sound like an AWESOME procedure already?!?). There is a mammogram machine UNDER the table, which compressed my hanging boob in order to take images. (I really wish I had a [real] picture of this). The doctor looked at the images and figured out where she wanted to biopsy (distance from surface, density of tissue, etc.). In my case, she was looking to biopsy some microcalcifications lining one duct. She opted to biopsy some of the microcalcifications that were farthest from the mass which was biopsied last week, and fairly close to my nipple (underneath the surfacce, of course) in order to determine the extent of the cancer in my body (mind you, there are TONS of these little guys-I saw them on the mammogram after the procedure). If the calcifications are DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) as suspected, then a surgeon will likely want to perform a mastectomy and not just a lumpectomy. This is because the DCIS spans a surgically significant distance, NOT just because I have a combination of DCIS and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
Once the placement of the needle/biopsy was determined, the doctor gave me a Lidocaine injection. The injection stung a little bit, just enough to make me say “Ow, Ow, Ow!” One of the nurses rubbed my back for a few seconds, and the pain dissipated. Dr. Fox then made an incision, and used a needle similar to the one used for the first biopsy to take mulitple “core” samples of my breast tissue. The goal is to hit some pieces of the microcalcifications in at least a few of the samples so that the pathologist can determine whether they are benign or DCIS. The samples look like little pieces of spaghetti, and she took TEN of them, holy moly! One of the assistants showed me a magnified x-ray-esque image of the samples. About half of them had bits of the microcalcifications.
I didn’t bleed much following this procedure, and I didn’t hurt much until later that night. I could barely sleep. Every time I moved, I felt extremely sore. Tylenol didn’t help much, nor did the mini-ice pack the nurses gave me before I left the Center. I got out of bed before 6a (not normal for me), and took care of my animals, then went back to sleep until noon. I ran errands that afternoon, and even just a little pressure from the seatbelt hurt. Luckily, I slept a lot better last night, and am sore today but feel I can function normally.
Dr. Fox called me yesterday afternoon and confirmed that the microcalcifications are indeed DCIS. I scheduled an appointment with the Center’s breast cancer team for next Tuesday to get a recommendation for treatment from their breast cancer team (surgeon, oncologist, etc.), but I am already second-guessing myself. The surgeons are trained for breast surgery, but it’s not the majority of what they do, and I really want a team working on me who specializes in this area. I think I feel most comfortable going to Dana Farber in Boston or Moffitt in Tampa for this, especially since I have the resources in both places (I can get there for next to nothing, and have friends and family to stay with in both places). I ended up calling DF today, and should hear back from them tomorrow.
I looked up pictures of breasts post-mastectomy on a good plastic surgeon’s website today. I have a friend who unfortunately had to go through this at age 29, and she told me about this particular surgeon. It was interesting and the end results did look great, but I still cried.
If I end up having surgery in Boston, I want Mr. Mulder to come with me. Kim & Caylan-How do you feel about that?!?
Here’s a picture of my Mr. Mulder and his bridge, on the day Bing and I became engaged: